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SBC DIGEST: Samford dedicates Racial Reconciliation Memorial; WMU Acteen panelists named

Samford University dedicates Racial Reconciliation Memorial

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) – On Feb. 15, Samford University officially dedicated its Racial Reconciliation Memorial during a public worship service on campus. The memorial honors the many contributions of African Americans who built and sustain the institution’s mission while affirming the university’s commitment to reconciliation.

The memorial was authorized by the university’s board of trustees and originally installed on May 5, 2020. However, the public dedication was delayed due to restrictions caused by COVID-19.

Shaped in the form of an ancient obelisk, the 8-foot-tall memorial is crafted from stainless steel and stands atop a granite base in the circular garden at Divinity Hall on the west side of the university quadrangle. Consistent with Samford’s core values of integrity, honor, justice, accountability and service to God and the community, the etchings on the monument express the virtues of justice and righteousness and recall the wrongs of slavery and the sins of the resulting violence and racism.

The memorial specifically honors the memory of Harry (1831-1854), a 23-year-old Black man who lived in slavery and died from injuries he received while waking the students at the burning of Howard College. Harry is known in Samford’s history for his bravery that saved lives and sustained the institution.

Students from the college first memorialized Harry by placing a monument at his grave in Marion, Ala., in 1857. He has since been memorialized along the university’s Centennial Walk and a likeness of a young African American man representing Harry is engraved in the university’s ceremonial mace. More than 20 years ago, the Samford Student Government Association approved the naming of the food court coffee house venue in the Ralph Beeson University Center in Harry’s memory.

As the 2019 renovation of the university center was underway, several students and university leaders voiced a desire for Samford to find a more visible way to commemorate Harry’s memory and to recognize the many contributions of African Americans throughout Samford’s history. In February 2019, the year marking the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first slaves in this country, the Board of Trustees approved the placement of the memorial.

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WMU names four Acteens to national panel

By Margaret Colson

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) – National Woman’s Missionary Union has named four young women to the 2022 National Acteens Panel: Grace Carter of University Hills Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.; Taylor Glover of Harps Crossing Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga.; and Aileen Gregorio Mejia and Nievez Montanez, both of Freeman Heights Baptist Church in Garland, Texas.

“We are excited to have these young women represent Acteens this year,” said Heather Keller, WMU ministry consultant for children and students. “I am anxious to see how God will use this group to impact their generation with the gospel and encourage other believers to share the gospel with the world.

“Acteens is an amazing opportunity of growth, a time to build confidence and a place for teen girls to realize their role in the Great Commission,” Keller added. “The young women on this year’s panel are amazing examples of what Acteens is all about: making disciples of Jesus who live on mission.”

Acteens is the WMU-sponsored missions group for girls in grades 7–12. For more than 50 years, Acteens has provided generations with the opportunity to grow in their faith with others who share the same goal: to be actively involved in missions discipleship. This includes learning about, praying for, supporting and doing missions and telling others about Jesus.

The panelists will serve through 2022 and each will receive a scholarship from the Jessica Powell Loftis Endowment through the WMU Foundation. They will help lead in the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, in June, prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. In addition, they may have speaking opportunities in their respective states and will write blogs for Acteens at wmu.com/blogs.

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