The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 25, 2013

Special service celebrates Black History

‘Progression: From Chained to Changed’ was theme Sunday at Heart of God Ministries

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — Heart of God Ministries hosted its annual Black History Month celebration Sunday, with the theme “Progression: From Chained to Changed.”

Senior Pastor Fred T. Simms said the event highlighted “how far we’ve come. The road hasn’t always been easy.”

He said as long as progression always triumphs regression, our country will be better for it.

He shared a favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “Anybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”

Simms said he hoped everyone left the service Sunday with a message of understanding about how far we’ve come.

“Sometimes we forget our history. I hope they leave happy to have understood that so many lives have been scarified so you can be anything you want to be, even if you want to be the president of the United States.”

The congregation performed several selections throughout the celebration, including “Glory, Glory Hallelujah,” “Ride on King Jesus” and “Lord Help Me to Hold Out.”

Dr. Kristi Dumas spoke about notable people in history who have shaped the path of black history. She added, “Black history is American history.”

Chermette Wright performed an interpretive dance that wowed the crowd.

Guest speaker Melvin L. Coleman Sr., former head men’s basketball coach and health and physical education professor at Norfolk State University, then took the podium to deliver his message. “We all have a role, we all have a duty, and we all have a responsibility. We are all God’s creatures.”

He said as an educator, he sees so many people who do not know enough about history. “Let’s make sure we don’t forget it. Let us not forget our ancestors that labored for our freedom.”

He said education is a way up and a way out, which has not changed over the years.

“When you think about how hard it is for you, think about how hard it was for your ancestors.”

He spoke about Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman and the initiative and courage it took to transport slaves through the Underground Railroad into freedom.

He also noted the case of Brown vs. Board of Education in 1955, which many of the people in the room Sunday had seen in their lifetime. “If people in 1955 worked that hard, we need to work twice as hard today.”

The Spirit of Excellence Awards were presented, then a closing song was performed and Simms gave closing remarks.

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