Here are my personal reflections on last Sunday Black History Celebration:

There was no drama similar to the disruptive protest we experienced last year when District Attorney Jackie Lacey was our speaker. This allowed us to be a lot more relaxed. However, I don’t regret last year’s more edgy event because it demonstrated that we’re right in the mix of grassroots thinking about race issues in our community.

The speaker, Pastor Camille Russell Wooden, communicated the Gospel clearly and joyfully. I’m proud that ABC can continue to work with her through the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of churches in the Pasadena/Altadena area.

The music was thoroughly inspiring, from the Abundant Life Covenant Bible Church Praise Team, to our friend Candace Lacey singing “Stand,” to our own ABC Choir singing two different types of music, which can be heard here.

This year’s theme connected the work of the Civil Rights movement (seen in a video interview of Juanita DeVaughn) to the current crisis faced by refugees trying to find a safe future in the USA. The Statue of Liberty’s invitation, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” was the subject of one of the choir’s songs. The full lyrics can be seen here. They end with the challenge, “Remember what I stand here for!”

The DeVaughn family name appeared in the program repeatedly: Paula, Chair of the planning committee, brought the welcome, Juanita was featured in the video, Lauren was the emcee and Pastor Connie gave the Benediction. This was fitting because the event was held close to the one-year anniversary of Paul’s passing, and 36 years ago it was Paul who came up with the idea for this annual celebration. ABC is grateful for the blessing God has given and continues to give to the church and the community through this wonderful family.

Finally, I’m impressed with the teamwork involved in presenting this annual event. I thought of trying to list all the people who should be credited with helping to make it happen, but there are just too many, and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. Between the planning, the decorating, the rehearsing, the greeting, the ushering, the food preparation and service and the cleaning up, as many as fifty individuals were involved. Miraculously, there were no serious conflicts or hurt feelings that I’m aware of. That’s a tribute to the fact that we are genuinely a community of love in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you all for a wonderful evening.

–Pastor George Van Alstine