Braggs church celebrates “first ladies”

Published 2:22 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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New Salem Baptist Church in Braggs honored community ladies, past and present, on March 18, hosting the third celebration of its kind for women over 60 and remembering community mothers who have passed away.

New Salem member and event organizer Kenneth Ray said the event was a way to celebrate every woman, not just church members but also those from surrounding communities.

“Three years ago, God gave me a vision for the first program,” Ray said. “God gave me a vision, in a sleep, to honor all the first ladies.”

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Ray said the celebration was meant to honor all women over 60, across races and denominations.

“Every lady should be your first lady, whether it’s your mom or daughter,” Ray said. “This was for all ladies, no denomination or race. It was about all the ladies in Braggs and the surrounding areas.”

The event featured singing and praising, Ray explained. He ordered lapel buttons for each guest.

The event has grown since its inception, Ray noted. The first year organizers celebrated 33 women. This year’s celebration recognized over 150 ladies.

Farmersville resident Wanda Abner is mother to three sons, grandmother to 12 grandchildren, and great grandmother of five.  has attended all three celebrations and said the event means a lot to her, as a celebrated mother and someone who remembers mothers who loved her too.

“[The event] meant a lot to me because many of us have mothers who have passed on and it was a recognition of their life,” Abner said. “It’s good to gather together and celebrate. It was a celebration to the ladies of the community, where we can all get together and sing praises, putting God first and giving Him praise.”

Ray, who’s mother died when he was just two weeks old, said he planned the celebration at God’s prompting and to enable people to celebrate the mothers in their lives.

“My mom passed away when I was two weeks old,” Ray said. “Even though my step mom raised me as her own, I still live with a blank because I didn’t know my mom. That’s why I cherish ladies so much. All [community women] are my moms. When I see young people talking back to mothers and they can look across the table and see their moms, they don’t know how blessed they are.”

Ray said he hopes younger generations will take the opportunity to honor their mothers too.

“I take it to heart when I see children talking back to a parent or grandparent,” Ray said. “I never had the opportunity to even say good morning to my mom, so that’s why I am so overwhelmed with ladies and want to celebrate them.”