Lincroft PresbyterianPress release from Lincroft Presbyterian Church

While some people celebrated Valentine’s Day with a card, a romantic dinner, gold-foiled chocolates in a heart-shaped box or a bouquet of beautiful red roses, members of Lincroft Presbyterian Church, took the matters of love straight to the heart, and hosted two successful recent events: a February 6 Chili Cook-Off, and a February 11 Unity in Diversity Jazz Service to benefit two neighbor organizations, immediately prior to the day of love.

The two events raised more than $1,500 for 180 Turning Lives Around and Family Promise of Monmouth County, which offer the only places of sanctuary in Monmouth County for families facing domestic violence or homelessness.

More than 60 people came hungry and left nourished in body, mind and soul, and raised more than $500 during the Saturday evening Cook-Off. South-of-the-border decor and “chill” tunes transformed the room, as cowboy boot-clad guests “taste tested” their favorite chili and voted for the People’s Choice Award. Middletown Township Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Lincroft Firefighter Jack Fowler and Chef Joe Musa sampled each of the 13 entries and chose winners for first and second place: Holmdel’s Jenna Sheldon won a $100 MasterCard gift card donated by Two River Community Bank/Middletown branch for her venison chili, while Middletown’s Marianne Ziegler and her “Hawt Stuff” chili won both second prize ($50 gift certificate to Luigi’s Famous Pizza & Queso’s/Lincroft) and the praise of the people as the People’s Choice award winner (two free entrees courtesy of The Turning Point Restaurants).

Guests also won door prizes donated by family and friends and local businesses: Acme/Lincroft, Zoni’s Coal Fired Pizza, and AutoZone, and funds raised from the evening will help 180 furnish the new safe house that opens in early spring 2016.

More than 65 people came out on a bitter cold Thursday evening to a church sanctuary transformed into a candlelit lounge, to watch the LPC Players perform skits, and LPC members read scripture.  Music Director and professional trumpeter John Morrison performed during the annual jazz service, accompanied by pianist Timothy Broege (a nationally renowned composer and music director at Belmar Presbyterian Church); guitarist Doug Clarke (an in-demand jazz sideman and prodigy of the legendary Tal Farlow); drummer John Gronert (who has performed with The Drifters and Darius Brubeck, and was a student of Joe Morello and Sonny Igoe), and string bass/ guitar player Robert Marriner (who has played with the Platters, Little Anthony, the Duprees and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra). The evening, which raised $1,000, was dedicated to the ongoing good work of Family Promise. The organization relies on a network of 22 congregations including LPC to host and support families during their time of transition.