Today is my daughter Bethany’s birthday. She would have been 26. It’s hard to imagine, but I do.

Yesterday was the 200th birthday of Raleigh’s First Baptist Church — both of them. As in a number of other southern towns, Raleigh’s first Baptist church included both whites and blacks, landowners and their slaves. And, as in most cases, following emancipation the black members of Raleigh First (who generally outnumbered the whites) withdrew to form a separate congregation under their own leadership.

The two churches now sit diagonally to each other on opposite corners of Capitol Square. Among other commemorative acts, they commissioned a play that was written and performed by the local Burning Coal Theater Company. The well-crafted drama began in one sanctuary, took the audience across Capitol Square for three outdoor scenes (one of which is at left), then moved across to the other congregation’s home.

Church members celebrated March 8 with a party in the North Carolina capitol building to recall that the initial meeting took place in the state “meeting house.”

Yesterday was also International Women’s Day — a reminder, among other things, that every person owes their birth day to the presence, pain, and life-giving power of a woman. Men may run the world, but it’s women who make it go ’round.

Remembering days are important days, not only to aid us in celebrating the past with some fondness, but in stirring us to dream into the future with hope of better days to come.

On this day I remember … and I hope.

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