Wednesday, February 27, 2013
In spite of pouring rain and cold temperatures, a packed house of Georgetown residents and visitors from around the state filled the sanctuary of the Lighthouse of Jesus Christ church for a foot stomping, hand-clapping celebration of the lives of three members of the Church on Saturday, February 23.
Poetic sermons, old-time gospel songs and the brassy tones of jazzy trombones permeated the air as more than a thousand persons rose out of their seats in joy and spontaneous emotion as they celebrated the lives of Angie Arthur, Edith Jackson and Melvira Johnson who were killed in a November 2012 vehicular accident.
Many were moved to tears when Deacon John Arthur, widower of Angie Arthur, was moved to dance in spite of his use of a supporting walker as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in the accident.
“It was moving to see Deacon Arthur sing and shout in victory as he was unable to attend his beloved wife’s funeral because he was recovering from his injuries, stated Bishop Dr. Floyd Knowlin.
“This was truly a heart-warming moment. I am so proud we were able to bring him this event to celebrate his wife’s memory.”
Family members of Angie Arthur, Edith Jackson and Melvira Johnson traveled from across the country to join in the celebration of the lives of their loved ones.
“My mother would have been so happy to witness this event, “ said Dianna Grissette, daughter of Melvira Johnson.
“This was wonderful…full of music and joy that celebrated my mother’s life and love of music, but also the lives of Sister Arthur and Sister Jackson. I am so happy I came from Tucson.”
Soul-stirring sermons delivered by eight powerful local ministers had audience members rising from their seats and encouraging the ministers with “hallelujahs” and “amens” as they were moved by the beautiful and timely poetic sermons of James Weldon Johnson written in 1927.
Ministers performed as listed:
• Master of Ceremonies — Reverend Joseph Knowlin of Nazareth AME Church
• “Preface” recited by Rev. Dr. Dora Gafford of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church
• “Listen, Lord – A Prayer” performed by Rev. Charles Johnson of Gospel Missionary Baptist Church
• “The Creation” performed by Elder Robert Davis of Soul Saving Station
• “Prodigal Son” performed by Rev. Jason Coakley of St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church
• “Go Down Death – A Funeral Sermon” performed by Rev. Carl Anderson of Greater St. Stephen AME Church
• “Noah Built the Ark” performed by Pastor Chris Daigle of Prevailing Purpose Church
• “The Crucifixion” performed by Apostle Richard Frasier of Love Chapel of Deliverance Church
• “Let My People Go” performed by Bishop John Smith of Greater Bibleway Church
• “The Judgment Day” performed by Bishop Dr. Floyd Knowlin of the Lighthouse of Jesus Christ Church
“Dwell in the House,” “Somebody Bigger Than You and I,” and an audience favorite “In that Great Gitten Up Morning” were some of the hymns sung by the Gospel Music Workshop of America Choir of Charlotte, N.C.
The 10-member Zeb Harrison and the Sounds of Praise of Charlotte, N.C. brought down the house with a stirring rendition of “Soon I’ll be Done with the Troubles of the World.”
The audience was so moved by the sounds of Trombones filling the sanctuary that the ensemble was brought back for an encore at the end of the program.
“I am ecstatic that I was able to bring this production that I have directed for over 30 years to my hometown,” said Donald Gilliard, producer/director.
“We were able to take a tragic situation and become part of the process of healing and remembrance. The musicians with whom I have worked for quite a while were delighted to bring their talents to such a worthwhile cause.”
As a part of the effort to benefit the church and families, the program was professionally recorded and DVD’s were available for pre-ordering.
DVD sales are continuing as people who were unable to attend are hearing about the powerful event presented in Georgetown, organizers said.
DVD’s are available for purchase by calling 734-834-2114 or 843-240-0432.
Other commemorative items, such as, bookmarks, T-shirts and a commemorative booklet are available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the fund for the church and families.
By Marilyn Hemingway
For The Times