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By Hannah Rough-Schock
Posted: 11/28/2022

Soul Food Train


Friendship Church, founded in September 1893, is one of the oldest congregations in the city of Pasadena. Formerly named Friendship Baptist Church, it was the first African American Baptist Church in the city. The church, built in 1925 on Dayton Street in downtown Pasadena, appears on the National Register of Historic Places.


Throughout its history, Friendship Church has played an important religious and civic role in Pasadena. In fact, the Church twice hosted visits from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights struggles in the 1960's.


In keeping with the Village's emphasis on inclusiveness, a few members reached out to the Rev. Lucious W. Smith, pastor of Friendship Church, to explore ways that the two organizations could become better acquainted. Together they scheduled a visit to the historic church. The visit included a tour of the church, led by Outreach Pastor Kevin McDaniel and Deacon Marcus Williams. Several Villagers attended, including Executive Director Katie Brandon.


The tour stoked Village member Dick Myers' enthusiasm about getting the two organizations together: “We need to get on track and get something going,” As a result, Soul Food Train was born.

On Saturday evening, November 5, more than 20 Pasadena Village members and guests settled into the community room at Friendship Church for a memorable evening of music, food, and friendship. Seated at round tables, members from both the Village and Friendship Church mingled and became acquainted.


Pastor Smith welcomed us Villagers, noting that Friendship Church is a “vibrant community in a historic building who want to break down old barriers.” Deacon Williams described the history of the church and encouraged us to come back for an extended tour. Katie Brandon then spoke, emphasizing that one goal of Pasadena Village is to build community. “This church is your community, and we hope that all of us can get to know each other better.”


After the remarks, the small but powerful choir inspired us with several spirited gospel hymns. With the encouragement of Deacon Williams, everyone stood up, joined hands and sang together. Afterward, they shared hugs and handshakes.


A buffet followed. Pastor McDaniel’s wife Adrian, a professional chef, introduced us to an enticing array of traditional, home cooked soul food offerings: southern fried chicken, neck bones smothered with gravy, macaroni and cheese, collard greens with bacon, black eyed peas with rice, candied yams, fried corn and okra, and hot cornbread with butter. For dessert we managed to find room for some tasty lemon pound cake. As Village member Karen Bagnard exclaimed, “We not only enjoyed delicious soul food, we got a nice serving of food for the soul.”


On prospects for the future, Village member Dick Myers explained: “We’re trying to reach out to a more diverse group of people. The national Village movement is mostly white. That doesn’t work in Pasadena, where we have a large African American community that is deeply rooted in our local history. Our Strategic Plan calls for us to have a diverse membership and we are committed to making that happen. This is an exciting development and I look forward to whatever happens next.”


Pastor Kevin McDaniel agrees. “We were very pleased to host the event and are looking forward to other gatherings in the near future. It was good to see how much everyone loved the food and music. The overall connection was apparent as everyone laughed and shared their stories as if they had known each other all along. I am looking forward to more evenings together.”


All in all, the Soul Food Train event is an excellent start to what promises to be a close and lasting relationship between Pasadena Village and Friendship Church.



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