Last weekend, Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bremerton celebrated its 100th anniversary in grand style, “remembering the past, honoring the present, envisioning the future” – and there certainly was singing!
AME Church nationally dates to 1787 in Philadelphia, and the efforts of the Free African Society’s and others to overcome racism. Seattle’s first AME Church was founded in 1890. Bremerton’s began in a tent in 1907 until its first church building in 1912. It still stands proudly today.
It’s seen a lot of history, heroes and “sheroes.” Legendary bright-eyed Lillian Walker of AME helped the Kitsap civil rights cause in the 1940s by ordering coffee and pie in a restaurant whose sign read: “We serve whites only.” That’s hard to believe today.
Several from Bainbridge Island joined “Awesome Praise” choir, one of several to sing for the AME centennial. Among them were State Judge J. Robin Hunt, Rev. Senji Kanaeda, and three from our Island’s annual MLK Jr. memorial Sing Out Singers who enjoy singing the old spirituals and in the traditional old gospel style. We may not share the same faiths or denominations with the same names. We do all try to share respect and gratitude for the perseverance, faith, hope and love that blesses us each day. We see us as all One with the Creator. Voices blend when we sing, “Come, let us be on one accord.” Election polarities vanish. Songs linger. “Si’ down, servant. I can’t it down! My souls so happy that I can’t sit down!”
This thanksgiving season offers opportunities to sing and “make a joyful noise!”
At 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28, Pastor Patrinell “Pat” Wright and her renowned Total Experience Gospel Choir celebrate their 39th anniversary at Seattle’s First Baptist Church. From 1 to 5 p.m. on the following Saturday, Nov. 3, Wright brings her choir to the Bainbridge High School Commons for an afternoon choir workshop. It’s co-sponsored by Bainbridge Island schools, the Bainbridge Schools Foundation and Sing Out Singers in cooperation with school choirs, United Brothers & Sisters and Multi-cultural Advisory Council.
It’s a special workshop just for students - intermediate, middle and high school ages and teachers with invitations extended to parents. It is requested an adult accompany fifth- or sixth-grade students from Sakai, Odyssey, Madrona, Hyla or Island School. A donation to Helpline’s food bank is the only admission. Folks can signup at the main office either of BHS, Woodward or Sakai.
At 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12 - Veteran’s Day – Awesome Praise Choir welcomes Island singers of all ages to rehearse with them at Bethany Lutheran Church. That’s the choir made up of singers from several churches in Bremerton plus singers from Port Orchard, Silverdale, Tacoma, Poulsbo and the Island. It was formed to sing at special events such as the County’s MLK Jr. Day event, African American Independence Day - “Juneteenth”- and the recent AME Church centennial.
Rehearsals are 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at various sites in the county. For more information, call 206-842-4164.