The basement of St. Paul AME Church was filled with families in their Sunday best, though it was after suppertime on a Saturday.
Veronica Rolley and her 6-month-old daughter Vonyae and 11-year-old son Xavier waited in the warm air outside of the church for Veronica’s twin sister, Monica Rolley, to arrive. As a fundraiser for the church, a photographer set up a makeshift portrait studio in the basement, and church patrons and community members alike filtered in and out of the building all day, getting their family portraits taken.
Some brought their entire family to be photographed, crowding in front of the canvas background. Others, like Octavia Scott, posed alone. “Yes, it was just me.” she said. “I’ll send it to my daughter in Indiana, as a Christmas present. She would have liked to be here.”
For families with small children, like Ida Hatton and her 1-year-old son Jamaal, coaxing an inquisitive child to sit still was a challenge.
At the end of the evening, childhood friends Washington Elbert and Arvine Eubanks stood outside the church at 501 Park Ave., the last in line to sit for portraits. “I’ve been coming to this church since 1957,” Elbert said, “and not too much has changed. Older people pass on, and younger ones join. I do wish we had more young ones.”