The Children and Youth Ministries at Olive Branch Community Church in Sandy Spring remembered four young Alabama girls who were killed 50 years ago during a bomb blast at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham by raising enough funds to have the girls’ names placed on the church’s Memorial Stone Wall.
Olive Branch founder and pastor, the Rev. Donald Kelly, said the church launched a virtual Memorial Stone Wall earlier this year as part of its capital campaign to build a new church on Md. 108, near Sherwood High School. For a donation of $25 or more, any deceased person can be honored on the wall, accessible at any time through the church’s website www.obcchurch.org/MSW_HomePage.shtml.
The racially-motivated bombing during services at the African-American church on Sept. 15, 1963, killed the four girls and injured many others. Three former Ku Klux Klan members were convicted of murder in the incident.
Inspired by the Congressional Gold Medals awarded to each of the four bombing victims on Sept. 12, the children and youth of Olive Branch more than quadrupled their financial goal of $100 and presented their donation during their church’s recent seventh anniversary celebration.
The names of Denise McNair, 11, and Addie Mae Collins, 14, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, have been added to the virtual wall in recognition of their sacrifice that spurred the nation’s fight against segregation.
The funds raised will be used to buy doorknobs for the children and youth Sunday School classrooms in the new church slated for construction beginning later this year.
Pastor Kelly lauded the efforts of the children and youth at the church that provided a unique opportunity for them to actively participate in fundraising to build the new church, learn more about the unsung heroes in African-American history, and practice Christian discipleship by remembering children and youth martyred while serving God.