Alfred Street Baptist Church hosted its 12th Annual 2014 HBCU College Festival at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria on Feb. 22, offering legions of college hopefuls the opportunity to apply on site and even receive scholarships.’

Organizers estimated that more than 2,000 students attended the event. Students, accompanied by their parents, visited booths with information about a variety of colleges and universities, chatted at length with HBCU college representatives and attended informational sessions ranging from how to apply for financial aid to help with test preparation.

There were 12 chancellors in attendance from various HBCUs from across the country and the event was coordinated by a team of 300 volunteers from the church. Many of the volunteers worked overnight or arrived as early as 6:00 a.m. on the day of the event to set up and prepare.

The event demonstrated the church’s commitment to the area’s African-American students. ASBC is known for its programs for young people and the college festival grew out of that enthusiasm to encourage educational excellence not only in the children who attend the historic church, but also others in the area.

The Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, Alfred Street Baptist Church’s senior pastor, believes it is the responsibility of the African-American community to provide students with the opportunity to “explore their options, pursue their interests and develop their plans.”

Organizers and those in attendance called the event a success. The colleges and universities offered about $1 million in scholarships.

The statistics were astounding:

• 2,500 students and parents registered

• 80 schools were represented

• 1,109 students were interviewed

• 674 students had their $50 application fee waived

• 518 students were accepted onsite

The event was moved from the church to T.C. Williams High School to accommodate the huge crowd.

Students and their families were invited by Rev. Wesley to attend the church on Feb. 23 for a special HBCU-themed service featuring Dr. Debra Saunders-White, chancellor at North Carolina Central University, as the keynote speaker. The service was standing room only.

Established in 1818, Alfred Street Baptist Church is home to the oldest African-American congregation in Alexandria and is considered one of the Washington area’s most influential churches, with 5,000 members. Services are held Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Alfred Street is also home of the popular Come As You Are (CAYA) Worship Service held the first Wednesday of every month.

Welborn is the communications manager at ASBC. For more information about ASBC, visit