The leaders at Bailey African Methodist Episcopal Church, at 2908 12th St., wanted to remember and celebrate black history across the generations, said Karen Rosebaugh, the church’s publicity and events coordinator.
“We wanted not just to have a program but to share it with young people and teach with them,” she said. “They’re teaching us and we’re teaching them, and they’re sharing with us and we’re sharing with them, so kids know they’re being heard.”
The church does something for Black History Month each year, but this is the largest scale of events in recent memory, she said.
On Feb. 2, the church coordinated an event with the Sno-Isle Genealogical Society. Attendees learned about researching their family histories using slave owners’ tax records.
It can be more difficult for black people to trace their history because of the way their ancestors were treated as property, Rosebaugh said. Modern techniques are using DNA that sometimes can go as far back as tribal heritage from Africa.
On Feb. 9, Edmonds-Woodway High School senior Rahwa Beyan and junior Yapasha Muleka gave spoken-word performances.
Muleka’s performance was inspired by her experience as an African-American woman in the modern world, she said. She thought about how previous generations didn’t have a voice.
“Now African-American women, we have a meaning, we have a say, and we can have a big impact on the world,” she said.
At 11 a.m. this Sunday, the church will host an interactive service where people will learn facts and figures of black history. The church wants to focus on the truths of the past, even when they are painful, Rosebaugh said.
“Out of the pain there comes the progress,” she said. “We’ve moved beyond that. Those who came before us had to go through the fire so those of us who are here now could have more from life.”
The church’s Sunday service on Feb. 23 is set for 10 a.m. At noon, the church will show the Academy Award-nominated film, “12 Years a Slave,” about a free black man who was kidnapped and enslaved. People are encouraged to go out to lunch together afterward to talk about the movie.
The film can be uncomfortable to watch, and tissues will be provided, Rosebaugh said.
The movie shows how slaves were dehumanized and demoralized, church steward Travis Curry said.
“It’s a sad movie, but slavery is sad in its entirety,” he said.
Snacks for the movie also will be provided, including popcorn, fried okra, jerk chicken and sweet potato fries, from the Craving Cajun Grill at 2915 Colby Ave.
The lunch is then set for 2:30 p.m. at the restaurant.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in a Philadelphia blacksmith shop in 1787, Curry said. An image of an anvil is incorporated into some of the art on the walls in Everett, a symbol of the church’s beginnings.
At the time, black people had to form their own churches because they weren’t allowed at white churches, church steward Genie Paul said.
Otherwise, they had no place to worship, Rosebaugh said.
“You feel the pain there when you’re not allowed to reach your soul,” she said. The church was formed “so all people could realize their religion and they could pray for peace.”
The Everett branch of the church started on Broadway in 1903. They moved to 12th Street in 1967. At the time, the traditionally low-income neighborhood was home to many black families. These days, they have neighbors who may be Hispanic, Russian, Ukranian and Ethopian, among others. About 20 people usually attend Sunday services.
Church leaders sometimes are asked if people can come to services if they’re not black, Curry said.
The answer is yes, of course, and please do.
“The church isn’t just serving people who are black,” Rosebaugh said. “This is a church of many colors.”
Church staff also run several community donation programs, and more are in the works.
There is an annual holiday raffle where about 30 families receive free turkeys.
In addition, the “bread ministry” provides breads and pastries to those in need from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first Saturday of each month. The goods are donated by local stores and bakeries, Paul said. People line up outside.
“They cry and they hug and kiss you for a loaf of bread,” she said.
Church staff usually can find someone to help them communicate with neighbors in most languages. For example, two children of an Eastern European family who used to receive food donations are now grown and come provide interpretation for others in their native languages.
The church also accepts and redistributes donations of canned foods, gently used children’s clothing and new blankets.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bailey African Methodist Episcopal Church at 2908 12th Street hosts Sunday services at 11 a.m. The service for Feb. 23 is planned to begin an hour earlier than usual.
The church also is used for services by the local Ukranian community at 3 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, go to www.baileyamechurch.com or call 425-252-9447.
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