He said instead of marking its anniversary with a fund-raiser, the church needed to celebrate its impact in the community.
“After 55 years and the struggles, the loss of elders whose shoulders we stood on and are still standing on, we need to celebrate where God has brought us from,” he said.
The church has a history of producing social activists who instruct the African-American congregation to “pride themselves” to be active in the community, to take the message outside the church and into the streets, he said.
“We believe that if you got God in your life, and allow God to lead and guide your footsteps, then you will be an asset to the community,” Hughley said. “Because then you won’t be out here trying to rob somebody or you won’t be out here doing drugs.”
Richards believes the church’s members, especially its elderly congregation, need to mentor its youth.
“They don’t know there’s more to life than to play and have fun,” he said. “I have great concern about the community. There are children who would miss basic training if not for this church. I’m proud to touch the lives of the youth.”
At United Missionary, Richards said he sees a church with “a bright future” that has celebrated victories and overcome defeats.
“It’s time for people in general to re-enlist in God’s army,” he said. “Not throw stones at each other. But become stepping stones for each other.”
HOW TO GO
WHAT: United Missionary Baptist Church's 55th anniversary
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. "The Maestro to the Master" musical; 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 30: "There's No Place Like Home," a trip down memory lane. A re-enactment of the march from the location of the former Booker T. Washington School to United Missionar Baptist Church; Worship service: Guest speaker will be the Rev. David Bryant Sr., a Middletown native and pastor of Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Cocoa, Fla.
WHERE: 719 18th Avenue