Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
Two regular features in any entertainment event in this calendar year are the use of the colours of the Jamaican flag in the décor and some reference to the 50th anniversary in the theme or title. In those regards, the St John's United Church Music Ministry concert was no different.
The theme and title of the event was 'Rejoice: A Jubilee Experience' and the venue, their Hannah Town-based home in Kingston, was beautifully decorated with fabric in the colours black, green and gold.
However, they parted company with 'the regular' by producing a show that is best described as a fusion between a concert and a church service. With the use of spoken words, dance and musical items, performer after performer remained true to the theme, ministering the audience out of their seats at a rejoicing pace.
Rejoice: A Jubilee Experience got off to a late start due to some technical problems. But it was clear that the swelling congregation, comprised of visitors from other United Presbyterian Churches and other denomination, was not perturbed.
After a prayer of blessing, home poet Franklin Rose performed a dub poem titled 'Esteem, Self Esteem'. Without the use of a drum he articulated, "My life is fashioned by Him (God). And that we can be a holy nation."
Next up was the St John's United Praise Team, leading the audience into a time of praise and worship. The inclusion of this segment on the programme may seem unusual to the coordinator of a 'regular concert', but it was quite fitting in the context of the Music Ministry's primary objective, "To reach out to the community (Hannah Town) more and to get the persons from the community to interact through music, and to create an environment where they would feel free to worship and praise in their own way," explained Rory Evans, coordinator of the Music Ministry.
Gospel of rejoicing
And this mantra was reinforced by a praise and worship team from Duke Street United Church in the second segment of the service. Both teams used their songs to preach the gospel of rejoicing. And so, with words projected on an overhead screen, St Johns delivered Rock My Soul among others, while Duke Street included the popular I'm Trading My Sorrow.
The St John's United Band made two appearances with Our God is an Awesome God and a beautiful sounding Ancient of Days. And the slate of performers from the home church were completed with their dance group and two soloists: Melissa Green with her original I Need You Now Lord and Krisyanna Brown singing Survivor. All gave rejoicing performances. So, too, it was, from a quartet of females wearing red and white from Duke Street United with All We Ask.
The ministering MC, Roy McGregor, on his arrival to the stage injected more spiritual energy. He had the congregation 'running and skipping' (figuratively). He called on the glory of the Lord to "rise among us" at the end of Ayisha Davis' rendition of the song Take me to the King.
But the lengthy Saturday evening concert list of ministers was not limited to the United Church denomination. Radical Weapons, a Seventh-day Adventist group, was also on hand. "We come here to worship" was how they began their second appearance on stage. And backed by the St John's United Band, they proceeded to minister with My Life, My Soul and ending with Nearer my God to Thee.
The audience also encountered humourous but rich words from Reverend Delroy Johnson, scripture reading, altar call and the opportunity to win credits for their mobile phones.
This was the third staging of the praise and worship concert with its secondary purpose to raise funds to purchase instruments for the department. It was coordinated by Melissa Green from the St Johns United Youth Ministry.