By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
JEFFERSON – From the top name on the invitation list to the last person squeezing into the historic Union Baptist Church sanctuary, the reaction was the same Saturday evening. Attendees repeatedly reported a marvelous job of restoration for the historic church that was the heart of the Sandtown community and the local African-American Civil Rights movement.
They lauded the great way the ceremony commemorated the restoration achievement. Tommie L. Jackson, brother to rescue initiator Pency Jackson Floyd, put it this way, “The Lord’s favor is all over this. This is a great moment.”
A beaming Richard Collins, president of the Collins Academy which largely funded the $500,000 project with the assistance of Norbord and the Schluter Foundation, expressed deep satisfaction. “I thought it was a great evening” Collins said afterwards.
“It was a great celebration of Pency Floyd and the African-American community in Sand Town. It was everything we had hoped and dreamed it could be.” Collins sees a dramatic future for the multi-purpose facility on Houston Street. “We believe our efforts will make Jefferson a leader in historic preservation and community involvement,” Collins said of the building’s restoration and the organization’s overall mission.
“It’s one of the great black structures in the state and it’s really the heart of the city. It’s about people getting along in Jefferson and reviving a commercial area that’s traditionally been successful, and capitalizing on the history for generations to come.”
Bob and Pam Thomas were ecstatic. “I thought it was terrific,” Bob said. “We were thrilled to be invited. What an accomplishment. The A Capella Choir was fabulous. We enjoyed ourselves very much. Pam said, ‘I would like to have every Sunday like this.’
”DeeDee Hunter was moved by the resolution of prior generations.“I had an amazing time at the dedication service,” Hunter said. “The Wiley College choir was outstanding. I am forever grateful for those who worked hard and stayed the course to see this project to completion. I look forward to many more visits to this historic place.”
Sammie DeSpain called Union Baptist a “landmark for Jefferson. This is a historical asset for us.” DeSpain also enjoyed her evening. “The music was wonderful, just outstanding.”
“I thought it was a wonderful event, a beautiful building,” Cooper said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to expand our understanding of our beloved Jefferson. This will bring new stories to the forefront.”
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