A United Methodist Church in Topeka is celebrating Black History Month and reaching out to the community at the same time.
In a special service at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, Asbury Mount Olive UMC, 1196 SW Buchanan St., will host nearby Calvary Baptist Church for its celebration.
A play, “Remembering the Past,” will include a narrator and actors representing historic African-Americans, including Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks. Calvary Baptist’s pastor will provide the sermon, and its choir will perform.
The Rev. Harry Christian, Asbury Mount Olive pastor, said his church was a part of the Calvary Baptist celebration of its pastor’s anniversary last year and wanted to return the favor while conducting a meaningful service.
“We were wanting to do some things differently than we’ve been doing them in the past,” Christian said. “We wanted to do things outside our normal worship.”
The service, Christian said, would not only be respecting African-Americans from history, but give hope for years ahead.
“We want to remember our past and embrace our future,” he said.
To Christian’s knowledge, it is the first time a service like this has been performed at Asbury Mount Olive, and is already looking ahead to more religious community partners.
“I’d like it to be an annual event,” he said. “We’re talking about inviting different denominations so we can fellowship together with other Christians.”
Hope is the key in the service, he said.
“We’re sharing the things that will hopefully enlighten people to go out and do great things,” Christian said.
Asbury Mount Olive is the result of two longtime Topeka churches merging together, according to its Facebook page.
Asbury was built on the north part of Topeka in the 1880s, and its attendees included Vice President Charles Curtis. It was purchased in 1892 by an African-American congregation, and was rebuilt after Topeka’s floods in 1903 and 1951.
Mount Olive was begun in 1877, first meeting in a blacksmith shop on the 1000 block of Kansas Avenue. A new church, at its current location, was built in 1907. Four years later, a stone building was constructed, and stood until 1974.
Asbury and Mount Olive merged on June 1, 1969. The old building was razed in 1974, and the current building was dedicated in October 1975.
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