City Churches to Celebrate 137th Anniversary Together
Warren United Methodist Church, a historically black congregation in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, will celebrate its 137th Anniversary from Nov. 12-19 with a weeklong series of events held jointly with First United Methodist Church in Shadyside, a predominately white congregation. Pittsburgh Area Bishop
Cynthia Moore-Koikoi will preach during the concluding Nov. 19 combined worship service at Warren.
The combined celebration is an outgrowth of friendships formed among people of the two churches through a group called Wrestling with Racism, launched nearly two years ago. The group has built community and gained understanding of racism by studying together, discussing issues, going to movies and sharing meals.
The week of celebration begins with a joint 11 a.m. worship service at First UMC featuring a combined choir and worship leaders from both congregations, followed by a fellowship dinner. Jeff Miller of First UMC will preach.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, at 4 p.m. a concert will honor the life and music of Harry Burleigh, a nationally known African American singer and composer. His pioneering solo arrangements of spirituals 100 years ago played a major role in saving them. Burleigh was a native of Erie. The choirs of Warren UMC and First UMC, and the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Male Chorus will participate along with Pastor Leslie Boone and other musicians. Dr. Jean E. Snyder, author of Harry T. Burleigh: From the Spiritual to Harlem Renaissance, will share the history of Burleigh’s connections with Western Pennsylvania.
“Community gatherings” to build relationships among the people of both churches are being planned during the week. Each gathering will include hosts and participants from both congregations. “The idea is for members of the sister churches to get to know each other better by gathering around a table for good conversation and food,” Alecia Gibbs shared enthusiastically.
Also during the week, First UMC’s Worship Jam at 7 p.m. on Wednesday will feature drumming and Warren UMC will host Soul Line Dancing from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16.
The Nov. 19 service at 11:30 a.m. at Warren will feature the combined choirs of Warren and First and will have greeters and worship leaders from both congregations. Bishop Moore-Koikoi’s message, “Dressed in Love, Bound in Perfect Harmony” will be based on Colossians 3:12-14. A fellowship dinner will follow the service.
Alecia Gibbs of Warren UMC is chairperson for the 137th Anniversary Celebration, which will focus on the theme Put on the Garments of Praise, based on Isaiah 61:3. She is part of the “Wrestling with Racism” group, led by Pastor Don Blinn of Warren UMC and Tracy Merrick of First Church.
All are welcome at the celebration events. Reservations are requested for the November 19th fellowship meals and may be made by calling Warren UMC at 412-621-2253.
Alecia Gibbs of Warren UMC and Pastor Jim Walker of First UMC are seen in the video prepared by the WPAUMC Anti-racism Team in Spring 2017.
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