Since January, the members of Third Baptist Church have been commemorating their 150-year anniversary by hosting monthly events. The nearly year-long celebration came to an end during the weekend of November 10th and 11th when they hosted their anniversary banquet on Saturday evening at the Radisson Hotel at the University of Toledo, 3100 Glendale, and concluded with church service the following day, at their church, located at 402 Pinewood Ave.
Sirlema Crowley anniversary chairperson told The Toledo Journal that the banquet would feature musical selections by “Women of Genesis,” members of Third Baptist Church, and Debra Gardner, a member of St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church. Further, the keynote address would be delivered by Willie Harper, pastor of Jesus Christ for All Nations, located in Dublin, California. The former native of Toledo spoke on the topic of generational building.
“It’s an honor to be the keynote speaker for a church that’s been around for 150 years,” said Pastor Harper. “When many churches fail within a few years, Third Baptist continues to shine throughout the city,” he said.
“Third Baptist develops leaders for Toledo, and the rest of the United States,” said Rev. Dr. K. David Johnson, senior pastor at Third Baptist. “We have teachers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals that are members. That’s one of the things that distinguishes us from other churches; the fact we develop leadership for the country. This unique combination continues to make Third Baptist relevant in a time when other churches fall off,” he said.
Also, proclamations from the Mayor’s office, as well as, city council were presented.
As a member of 48 years, Ms. Crowley said it was an honor to serve as the chairperson. She described Third Baptist Church as a family. “We’re a very close to each other. The members are just like family,” she said.
The staff of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union honored members from the community who’ve helped make the union a success during its 22 years of existence. That show of appreciation took place on Saturday, November 17 at the Pinnacle in Maumee, Ohio, at the Union’s Appreciation Banquet.
Honored guests included Chief Brian Byrd, Toledo Fire Department, First lady Sheila Cook of New Life Church of God in Christ, Bernard ‘Pete’ Culp, retired school administrator, Jessica LaValley, nonprofit expert, Randy Oostra, chief executive officer of Promedica, Ann Riddle, executive director of Northwest Ohio Scholarship Fund, Celeste Smith, community and minority health supervisor at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, Michelle Fleetwood, wife to David Fleetwood, head of Local 500, and Tommy, and Tina Butts, business owners.
Suzette Cowell, President/CEO of Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, told those in attendance that the honorees have helped make the union a success over the years, and felt it was necessary to publicly honor those individuals.
“I believe in giving people their flowers while they’re still alive,” she told her audience.
Ms. Cowell further shared the trials the union went through over the years, some of which, may seem hard to believe, she said.
Ms. Cowell spoke of the many obstacles that her, and the other founders had to go through to get established. Closing down, and receiving bad press from Toledo’s daily newspaper, were just two obstacles the union faced during its infancy.
But it was the honorees that helped make the transition from infancy, to a fully established financial institute within the African American community.
Although it was the credit union honoring members of the community, the honorees quickly praised Ms. Cowell.
“The union is honoring us, but we should be honoring them,” Chief Byrd said. “They’re using their skills, and abilities to empower others who were blatantly denied by other financial institutes,” he said.
“After 22 years of existence, the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union is proof that black businesses can survive, and thrive,” said Pete Culp.
With the current political climate in the United States, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, themed their 103 Freedom Fund Banquet, “Defeat the Hate-Vote. ” Held in the Great Hall of the Stranahan Theatre, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd, African Americans’ oldest Civil Rights organization focused their event on celebrating accomplishments of young people, and using their expertise to encourage others to get politically involved.
Partnering with Councilman, Tyrone Riley, and the NAACP recognized the winners of the Crispus Attucks Essay Contest that, Mr. Riley founded, and hosts annually. Over 100 young people throughout the county, male and female, black, and white, participated in the contest. Of the 100, 14 were selected as the winners, with each splitting a cash prize of $2000.00.
Then, the organization awarded four individuals with the Freedom Fund Award. Honorees were selected based on community activism, as well as their impact, and the longevity of that impact within the community. The 2018 recipients were Dr. Crystal Ellis, former Toledo Public Schools, TPS, Superintendent, Tina Butts, business owner, and community activist, David Fleetwood, head of Laborers Union Local 500, and Rev. Dr. John Roberts, senior Pastor of Indiana Missionary Avenue Baptist Church.
“Being the Superintendent of TPS was the most rewarding job I had,” Dr. Ellis told the audience after receiving his award. “When I was in that position, I didn’t look at color; I saw all the children as my children,” he said.
When Ms. Butts received her award, she thanked the NAACP, and quickly applauded those whom she works with, for getting people registered to vote.
Serving as the keynote speaker of the event was Zuri Hall, co-anchor of E! News and former host of a variety of MTV shows, as well as Toledo native. In a talk seasoned with humor, and a cheerful personality, the 30 year old spoke about her life in Toledo, and ultimately in Hollywood, where she would host her first television show at the tender age of 25.
Ms. Hall told the audience that most people would think, because she attended Ohio State University on a full scholarship, graduated, and started working in Hollywood, she was financially literate, but she quickly dispelled that belief.
She spoke of being in debt, which started in college with getting credit cards, and racking up that debt. Ms. Hall said that debt followed her to Hollywood, and continued to stress her out.
“Thank God that the NAACP offers courses in financial literacy, so others don’t have to go through what I experienced. Financial education lays the ground work for freedom,” she said.
Ms. Hall also encouraged all people to educate themselves on political candidates, and issues. She said when she first voted in 2008 for then, Senator Barack Obama, she was excited. But when it came time to vote in the midterm elections, two years later, she didn’t have a clue about candidates, and issues.
“Now I study candidates and issues like I was back in college,” Ms. Hall said.
“Our big push this year is getting people out to the polls to vote,” Ray Wood, president of the local chapter of the NAACP told The Toledo Journal. “Part of our effort in encouraging people, especially young people, to vote is utilizing, and recognizing the talents of our young people, like Zuri Hall,” Mr. Wood said.
Geraldine Scrutchins suspected her husband, Ed, was doing something special for her on her birthday, Wednesday, October 24, when he told her he was taking her out for barbeque. But what caused the suspicion was when he told her that needed to stop by Braden United Methodist Church, 4725 Dorr St. which she told The Toledo Journal, “We, at St. Paul AME Zion Church, rent out their facility for various occasions.”
It was her curiosity that caused her husband, of 49 years, to say, “Stop butting in, and let people do something for you.” Mrs. Scrutchins said she didn’t say another word, and just enjoyed the ride, and enjoyed arriving at the church being greeted by family, and friends.
Mr. Scutchins said, “She always helps others, and we wanted to do something for her.” His words about his wife would be a common theme echoed throughout the night by family, and friends.
“I remember when my wife was sick, and in the hospital, Geraldine would fix me dinners. I didn’t ask her to do it, she just did it and I really appreciate that gesture,” said Richard Earley, who was the best man at the Scrutchins wedding, 49 years ago.
“She kept me in line with discipline, and helped make me the man I am today,” said Scot, Mrs. Scrutchins’ son.
“She’s such a sweetheart. She opens herself up to help others, and today is our day to do something for her,” said Sean, Mrs. Scrutchins’ son.
“I’m surprised this many people came out tonight,” said Mrs. Scrutchins, who took her time to greet, and thank everyone, who was in attendance. The secret to a good healthy, and vibrant life, she said, “Always be prayerful, and love, and care for others,” Mrs. Scrutchins said.
She added, “My husband is amazing. Tonight is beautiful. He never ceases to amaze me. I love him, my sons, and family, and I’m truly grateful for everyone attending tonight.”
Toledo citizens gathered together as parents, goblins, fairies, and princesses at Ottawa Park on Saturday, October 20th, at the Liz Pierson Open Air Shelter in Ottawa Park from noon until 2 p.m. This was the 10th Annual Pumpkin-A-Rama sponsored by The City of Toledo’s Department of Recreation.
Phyllis Johnson, who has attended a few Pumpkin-A-Rama events in the past says, “I love when the time comes around for the Pumpkin-A-Rama. Its just an awesome, awesome for the family. And I’m enjoying it!”
A mother who attended for the very first time, Kaitlynne Grey, says “It’s nice. Really nice. The kid’s favorite part was the horse ride. They really enjoyed it.”
Children and even a few adults were dressed in Halloween costumes to take advantage of the FREE festivities provided by the City of Toledo. Families could ride in a horse carriage around the park. Free pumpkins and apples were given to the community and candy was collected as an early trick or treat! There was also a line for buttery popcorn, donuts of many tastes (including apple donuts!). Of course there was a line for the famous fall drink, apple cider.
DJ services were provided by Michael Baginski from Decorative Sound, which kept the Pumpkin-A-Rama fun and relaxed. Children and adults danced to many songs and DJ Michael Baginski’s voice over kept the crowd hype, happy, and involved.
Toledo’s FREE Pumpkin-A-Rama is planned and put together each year by The City of Toledo Department of Parks and Recreation. All food and drinks were purchased from various vendors.
Aaron Meyers, Division Supervisor of Department of Recreation explained, “The purpose of this event is to bring the community out and to enjoy the fall atmosphere. We just want to bring smiles to kids’ faces and have a family-fun event that all citizens of Toledo can enjoy together.”
For 35 years, the members of United Missionary Baptist Church, 2705 Monroe St, have been worshipping God, and inviting others to that worship. On Sunday, October 14, they celebrated their 35th anniversary by recognizing how far they’ve advanced as a congregation, and where they still, have yet to go.
Participating in the celebration were some of the members of Second Baptist Church in Akron, Ohio. Their Pastor, Roderick Pounds served as the keynote speaker.
Spearheading that celebration was Julia Holt, chairperson of the Trustee Board, and charter member of United Missionary Baptist Church. She told The Toledo Journal what keeps her actively involved at her church. “The members are very loving, and we work well together, plus, they have a genuine love for God,” she said.
As an extension to their anniversary celebration, the members hosted an afternoon fundraiser to further continue church renovations, as well as add to their scholarship fund, and continue their community outreach programs.
Entitled, “A Taste of Culture,” the fundraiser consisted of members of the church dividing up in four groups, with each group taking one of four regions, of the United States. The group then, preparde dishes that are indigenous to that particular region. Attendees would have the opportunity to taste those particular dishes. Further, each group would highlight the history of African Americans from that particular region of the country.
Rev. Robert Bass has been the head Pastor for 15 years. He said the anniversary celebration gives the members the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of the past 35 years, which helps them better map out, their future endeavors.
“One of the biggest obstacles we had to overcome is paying off a 30 year mortgage, in 16 years, with less people than we originally had,” he said. Rev. Bass said that being free of a mortgage, frees up the minds of the congregation, and puts them in a better position to focus on outreach programs, for example.
Rev. Bass further stated that, one of his short term objectives is having the church serve as a technological, and community focal point. “I want this church to be the center piece of the community, where people can come turn to, and get any kind of help they need,” he said.
During the weekend of October 5 through the 7, Center of Hope sponsored Healing Communities Weekend.
The event is designed to bring awareness to the problem of mass incarceration of people of color. It also mobilizes the faith based, community partners to develop and implement responsive initiatives to serve returning citizens and their families, as well as advocate for improved criminal justice policies at the legislative level.
On Friday, Center of Hope sponsored a Healing Communities workshop, which was led by Dr. Harold Dean Trulear. Dr. Trulear is an ordained American Baptist Minister who serves as Associate Professor of Applied Theology at Howard University. Further, he’s the director of the Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Prison Reentry Project of the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation.
The event concluded on Sunday with a worship service designed to facilitate healing, spiritual renewal, and hope for the future. Dr. Trulear was the morning speaker who spoke about the trauma and grief that returning citizens and their families face. “People will become mobilized to advocate for change when they acknowledge that the problem affects them personally,” he said.
The program concluded with fostering hope through acknowledging individuals who have championed re-entry community engagement service provision, criminal justice policy, and research. Those individuals were Willie Knighten Jr, for his work in behavioral health as a mentor and re-entry support specialist. Mr. Knighten also spent 13 years in prison before being exonerated by former Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland. Johnetta McCollough, executive director of Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities, TASC. She was recognized for her leadership in providing effective intervention services to high risk adult and juvenile offenders. Amy Priest, director of programs and services for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County. She was recognized for spending half her life helping those individuals involved in the criminal justice system. Carol Contrada, Lucas County Commissioner was recognized for helping the county secure $1.75 million from the John D and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge to reduce the jail population at the county level, while addressing racial and ethnic disparities. Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon was recognized for her work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to reduce disparities for out of home placements among youth of color. Dr. Donald L. Perryman received the Criminal Justice Research Award for his dissertation on “The Role of the Black Church in Addressing the Collateral Damage of Mass Incarceration.” The work synthesizes the myriad of practical interventions that churches can utilize to impact the current and formerly incarcerated, their families, the surrounding communities, systems, and legislation.
Men from three area churches, Calvary Missionary Baptist, United Missionary Baptist, and Shiloh Baptist participated in a two day retreat, and conference. The event was held on Friday and Saturday, October 5th and 6th, at the Holiday Inn French Quarter, 10630 Fremont Pike, in Perrysburg, Ohio.
With the theme, “Men standing up for Christ,” which was taken from Matthew 5: 13-16 of the Bible, attendees participated in interactive discussions on topics such as, “Let your light shine,” and “Make your calling and election sure.” Further, group prayer was held both days, there was entertainment by Darryl Earl, a comedian out of Detroit, Michigan, and Rev. Dr. Jerry Boose of Second Baptist Church, delivered the keynote address.
Deacon Willie Tucker of Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, told The Toledo Journal the amount of men participating for the 2018 retreat had doubled from last year.
“This is an opportunity for men to come together to fellowship, and see how we can implement into the community, what we learn these two days.”
Rev. Troy Brown of United Missionary Baptist Church shared, “This is our second year, as a church, participating in the retreat. The men were really excited about attending.”
Rev. Avearn Ford of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church added that, the young men, who participated in the retreat, gave tear jerking testimonies on how they need Christ in their life.
When it came time for Rev. Boose to deliver the keynote address, he told the men that he wanted to give them information that not only tied into the retreat, but could be utilized once they returned to their individual church, and surrounding community.
He asked them, “Do you know who you are? What’s your purpose with Christ? If you understand your purpose, you’ll get in the right position to cause change.”
Rev. Boose continued, “Religion is only mentioned twice in the Bible, but the word kingdom is throughout the book. God rules Heaven. We rule ourselves; the kingdom. And if you notice, kings are never in need within their kingdom. They’ve been given authority in the land, and we, as men, need to recognize we’re kings of our land, granted that authority, by God. When we truly believe we’ve been given that authority, our lives will begin to change for the better.”
“I don’t let me kids read from the internet, unless it’s school related. I want them reading from an actual book,” Maryah McIntosh told The Toledo Journal on Wednesday, July 25.
Ms. McIntosh was one of many parents, who attended Books 4 Buddies event, held at the Weiler Homes, on Toledo’s east side. Throughout the year, the organization hosts similar events around Toledo. The object is to encourage literacy through reading actual books. The event was a collaboration between Toledo Public Schools (TPS) and Lucas County Metropolitan Housing (LMHA).
In addition to giving away books, free food, face painting, games, and a boxing lesson made up the day’s agenda.
Mondo Arce, 17, is the spokesperson, as well as an Ambassador for Books 4 Buddies.
“Events like this are so important,” he said. “When you read from a book, instead of your phone, you avoid distractions like texts messages, social media updates, etc. Although books may be considered old fashion, they still work. And it’s important that kids have role models encouraging, and showing them the importance of reading a book,” Mondo said.
Jordan Topoleski, 18, is also an Ambassador for Books 4 Buddies. He said that, many people may not have the resources to buy and keep books in their homes; therefore, their effort helps fill a much needed void.
“Over the years since I’ve been in the program, I’ve got a better perspective on the entire city, and not just where I live,” he said.
Joaquin Centron Vega is vice president of assets management for LMHA. He said, “We like to take pride in our community by helping to provide positive things for it, especially for the children.”
“This event encourages kids to read during the summer months,” said Dr. Romules Durant, superintendent for TPS. “We’re always looking for ways to encourage literacy,” he said.
“Everyone wanted to be his child, or grandchild, or nephew, or they want to claim a relationship to him, because he would give you the shirt off his back; that’s how loving my dad is,” Bobby Nunn, Sr. told The Toledo Journal about his father, John Gray.
More accolades were conveyed at the 80th birthday celebration of Mr. Gray on Saturday, September 15. Held at Calvary Bible Chapel, 3740 West Alexis, his birthday wasn’t until November 30, but Mr. Nunn said they wanted to hold it earlier, in order to give family from out of town the opportunity to attend, while the weather was nice.
From Indiana, Tennessee, Illinois, and Wisconsin, love ones traveled to celebrate the life of their beloved.
The father of four children, Dorothy Gray, Jennifer Gray, Robin Nunn and Bobby Nunn Sr., and a host of grandchildren, and great grandchildren, Mr. Gray retired in 2004 after serving 28 years as a Deputy Sheriff, and is an active member of Jerusalem Baptist Church.
On why her father is deserving of the party, Robin Nunn said, “Regardless of how many times we, his children, failed him, or let him down, he never turned his back on us. He would simply say, ‘Maybe that particular thing isn’t for you; let’s try something else;’ now that’s real love.”
“I love this party,” Mr. Gray said. “My family told me to expect a lot of people, and sure enough, a lot of people came. Normally, when you hear, expect a lot of people, a lot of people don’t show up, but they did today, and that made me feel loved.”
The only thing he said he wanted for his birthday was to still be in good health.
“The feeling of being loved, like I am by my family, is a good feeling that everyone needs to experience” Mr. Gray said.
The Toledo Journal is Northwest Ohio's oldest African American owned weekly newspaper. We represent the voices of our local community, Northwest Ohio, and under served populations with an unapologetic vigor.