Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church
3138 N. Vancouver Avenue, Portland, OR
Rev. Dr. J.W. Matt Hennessee, Senior Servant & CEO
16th Annual “Drum Major Service”,
Sunday, January 16, 2022; 2:00 PM
Theme: “Now Is Still The Time”
Featuring music, remarks, and the full length of Dr. King’s
“I Have A Dream” Speech
PORTLAND, OREGON—January 4, 2022: On Sunday, January 16th 2022 Portland’s historic Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church and its vibrant community will host the annual Drum Major Celebration. This is usually a two-day commemoration consisting of a Salute to Greatness awards and scholarship luncheon, held on the Saturday prior to the Sunday event from 12:00 Noon to 2:00 PM in the Dr. & Mrs. O.B. Williams Fellowship Hall at the Church, 3138 N. Vancouver Avenue.
Due to the Covid-19 spread and the more recent concern about the contagiousness of the Omicron variant the Church has decided against having a full open door to the public for fear of creating a “super spreader” event. The Saturday event is normally full to capacity in the Fellowship Hall which is just over 300 people and the Sunday services, under normal conditions attracts over 600+ members of the community and a 100-voice choir.
However, given the Covid-19 Omicron variant protocols Rev. Dr. Hennessee has announced that this year’s celebration, as was last year’s celebration, will be broadcast on Facebook live at www.facebook.com/vafbc. The original Covid and the variants have invaded the Black and Brown communities disproportionately and this is why the decision was made to have a virtual event and not an in-person event for the second year in a row. Hopefully everything will be in line to make 2023 the first time to be in-person again.
As in past years prominent public officials will give remarks and reflections as will prominent faith leaders, however all of the messages will be video-taped in advance. In place of a Choir, carefully selected YouTube music will be selected and rather than a guest speaker this year we will be blessed by airing the full length of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Vancouver Avenue is one of Portland’s historic venues and the only church in Oregon where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the “Beloved Community” in November 1961 as part of his Civil Rights trip to the Pacific Northwest. It is also the only largely African American Church in Oregon to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The public is encouraged to virtually attend the service which will stream on Facebook live beginning at 1:55 PM on Sunday, January 16th. This is also a fund-raising event. Vancouver Avenue, since the inception of the Drum Major Scholarship Fund has supported activities and provided scholarships for over 300+ youth FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
and young adults in the Portland area. One of the overwhelming aims of the fund is to support young people’s after-high-school pursuits leading to constructive life outcomes. They are: (1) Go to a four-year college or university; (2) Enroll in community college or vocational school; (3) Get a job; (4) Start a business; or (5) Enlist in foreign service. Your donations also support the opportunity for junior and senior high school students to partner with a local Jewish Congregation and go on a Civil Rights tour together. They visit Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery Alabama. Their trip this year will be President’s Day Weekend, February 17-19. These tours help them to experience and learn about the difficulties and triumphs of those who championed Civil and Human Rights.
All donations go to the Drum Major Scholarship Fund, which is its own separate 501 ©(3). For more information contact the Church directly at 3138 N. Vancouver Avenue, Portland, OR 97227 Tuesday- Friday 10:00 AM-3:00 PM; by calling 503.282.9496, make a donation at the “Give” tab on www.vafbc.org, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
When asked about the meaning of the events against the current social and political backdrop, Pastor J.W. Matt Hennessee, Senior Servant of Vancouver Avenue First Baptist (who is also celebrating his 17th pastoral anniversary at the same time) said, “In times like these, it is imperative that we gather as community to work together, celebrate together, and collaborate together to ensure a vibrant, inclusive, and constructive future. The spirit and legacy of Dr. King, Mrs. King, Mrs. Parks, Ms. Yolanda D. King, President Mandela, Malcolm X and so many who came before us is what gives us encouragement and hope that we will overcome the difficulties, stresses, and strains of now and continue to build the ‘Beloved Community.’”
About the Event:
The 16th Annual Drum Major Celebration, honoring Dr. King’s 93rd birthday and Pastor Hennessee’s 17th pastoral anniversary, is a virtual one-day event honoring some of the City’s most promising students and most venerable leaders dedicated to humanitarianism, social justice, equity, and civil service. Hosted and sponsored by Portland’s historic Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, the celebration each year is scheduled for the weekend immediately prior to Martin Luther King Junior Day. The Drum Major’s “Empower the Dream” inter-faith gathering will take place on Sunday, January 16th in the Church Sanctuary, 3138 N. Vancouver Avenue in Portland from 2:00 PM-3:30 PM.
The public is encouraged to attend or watch virtually and donations are encouraged. All donations go to the Drum Major Scholarship Fund to support youth and young adult activities and scholarship awards. For more information, please contact the Church directly at 3138 N. Vancouver Avenue, Portland, OR 97227 Tuesday-Friday 11:00 AM-3:00 PM; by calling 503.282.9496 or the Church web-site at www.vafbc.org
Rev. Dr. J.W. Matt Hennessee
Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church