December 16, 2015
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the members of the 31st Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia on their 100th anniversary.

During the turn of the last century, African Americans continued to face significant oppression and discrimination. In 1895, despite the adversity facing the Black community, African American Baptist Churches came together to form the National Baptist Convention of the United States to strengthen and unify Baptist Churches. Today, it is the largest predominately Black Christian denomination in the United States.

The 31st Street Baptist Church grew out of this movement and was consecrated in 1915. The church quickly established itself as a leading voice in the Richmond community and its congregation rapidly grew. Members were active in the community and encouraged to attend the historic March on Washington in 1963. Sadly in 1966, the church structure was burned down. But out of the ashes, 31st Street Baptist Church persevered and its current sanctuary was built.

From 1982 to 2007, Reverend Darrel Rollins led the church. Under his leadership the church prospered even further. The congregation grew from 150 to 1,300 and the church added more than 50 new ministries. These ministries included assistance to seniors, nutrition assistance, and a consortium of three sister churches. Today, the Church feeds 70 to 250 people a day during the summer in the East End community. The physical building of the church has also grown and has become accessible to all.

More recently, the 31st Baptist Church was recognized by the Tricycle Gardens, a nonprofit working to expand access to healthy foods in Richmond, with the Golden Trowel award for the church's community garden that contributes to the food available at their soup kitchen. The garden has continued to grow under Rev. Dr. Morris Henderson's leadership and has even received a farm serial number from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The First Lady's Let's Move! Initiative has also recognized the church and its urban farm for its positive impact on the community. This unique garden is just one of the many ways that 31st Baptist Church has served and enriched the Richmond community.

Mr. Speaker, as the 31st Street Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia celebrates this historic anniversary, the congregation can rejoice in 100 years of fellowship and service to the Richmond community. I wish them many more years of joy and dedicated service to the community.