PILGRIM BAPTIST, REFORM TEMPLE HONOR MLK

MLK PrinzA free screening of a documentary on Rabbi Joachim Prinz (left, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) is among the events scheduled during a weekend-long MLK Day observance, presented jointly by Monmouth Reform Temple (Tinton Falls) and Pilgrim Baptist Church (Red Bank).

Press release from Monmouth Reform Temple

Continuing a recently established tradition, Monmouth Reform Temple of Tinton Falls and Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank join forces for a weekend-long slate of activities honoring the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The observance begins on Friday night, January 15 with MRT Shabbat services at 7 pm, featuring special guest Dr. Everett McCorvey, chair of the Opera Department at the University of Kentucky and Director of the National Chorale. Dr. McCorvey grew up in segregated Montgomery, AL alongside Dr. King’s children, and has risen to national prominence as a soloist, conductor, and educator.

The weekend will culminate with a noon MLK service at Pilgrim Baptist Church led by Pastor Terrence Porter on Monday, January 17 at noon. Rabbi Mark Kline and Cantor Gabrielle Clissold of MRT will participate in the service, along with a joint performance by the PBC and MRT choirs. All events are free and open to the public.

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RED BANK: GO TELL IT ON MONMOUTH

Black Nativity 2010A cast of some 45 actors, singers, dancers and community members brings the theatrical gospel celebration BLACK NATIVITY back to the Count Basie Theatre this Sunday, December 27, in the return of a local tradition from Dunbar Repertory Company. (Photo courtesy Richard Krauss)  

When it was first presented to Broadway audiences back in 1961, the theatrical experience known as Black Nativity was little more than a 40-page outline of a script on paper; an adaptation of the Gospel of St. Luke that was infused with the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes. In their fully fleshed form, however, the words came to life through a mix of traditional spirituals like “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” African American dance forms, colorful costumes, and an improvisatory element that encourages local clergy, schoolchildren and public officials to get into the act everywhere that Nativity has become the stuff of tradition, from Savannah, GA to Seattle, WA and numerous points between.

Beginning about the turn of the new millennium, Black Nativity became the stuff of Monmouth County tradition, when Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. first presented its “powerful message of joy, hope, victory and liberation” at Manasquan’s landmark Algonquin Theatre, in a staging by Dunbar Repertory Company, the producer-director’s grassroots troupe dedicated to presenting the works of African American playwrights. Re-emerging at the Count Basie Theatre in 2010 (where Willis, a now-retired faculty member at Brookdale Community College, has served as a board member for ten years), the production quickly staked out a place as a year-end centerpiece of community life for performing artists and church congregations from all around Monmouth. Following a one-year hiatus, Black Nativity returns to the Basie stage this Sunday afternoon, December 27, for its fifth Red Bank appearance — a re-energized and highly anticipated extension of the Yueltide season, about which Willis found time to chat with redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: A BLESSING OF THE BIKES AT PBC

PBC BikesRecently, Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank hosted its 4th Annual Community Unity and Bike Blessing Festival.  Over 350 members of the community attended the festival that featured entertainment, lunch, a blood drive, exhibits and community safety presentations, at no cost for the attendees. For further information regarding the Community Outreach Initiatives of Pilgrim, please call (732)747-2343.