Parks' New CD Benefits Homestead Ministry



Streets replete with untold stories
Buried dreams and hidden glories
Some hearts warm and others broken
Some prayers voiced and some unspoken
We are joined in our addiction
Some to wine and some to fiction
Scattered lives in search of center
Drawn to depths we rarely enter
The suburbs intersect the street
In this haven of commingled souls
And nothing ever tastes so sweet
As sacred food in simple bowls
Poverty and privilege meet
On common ground of what’s perceived as true
Unlikely saints, we now retreat
To respite on 8th Avenue
Black and white and every label
Gathered ‘round a common table
Funny how a truthful vision
Builds a bridge across division
These lyrics come from a song entitled 8th Avenue by Eric Park, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Butler, PA. They describe Homestead, an inner suburb of Pittsburgh where a shopping complex has replaced the steel mills that once lined the Monongahela River. There a ministry known as 8th Avenue Place seeks to connect people who remain in the community once supported by the mills and those from nearby areas who come to shop, eat and be entertained.

Eighth Avenue is one of 12 songs on a newly released CD entitled Mixed Metaphors, by Eric and his wife Tara Park.  Eric wrote all of the songs on the CD, the third for the talented couple. Most are based on their life experience.

"Mixed Metaphors in one sense refers to the thematic assortment and variety that the CD includes,” Eric explained. “In another sense, Mixed Metaphors refers to the very nature of God's kingdom--a kingdom of intersecting lives, commingled souls, and intermixed stories of redemption.”
All proceeds from sales of the CD will go to Eighth Avenue Place.
“With our last CD (Glutton's Graffiti), we supported United Methodist ministry in Africa.  This time around, we wanted to support a local ministry,” he explained. “Eighth Avenue Place is important to us for several reasons.  First, it is one of the few truly racially, generationally, and socio-ecomically diverse ministries that our Conference offers. As I suggest in the song …’The suburbs intersect the streets, in this haven of commingled souls…funny how a truthful vision builds a bridge across division’”. 
Eric said the ministry of 8th Avenue Place, as he has experienced it, “is rigorously committed to manifesting the Kingdom of God and its transforming rhythms in a troubled portion of a city that I love.”

The 8th Avenue  ministry was launched by the Rev. Keith Kaufold, who was a high school student and a member of Christ UMC in Bethel Park during the years Park was appointed as one the pastors there.  “To support 8th Avenue Place with this CD feels like a really good way to affirm the wonderful ministry of a colleague and friend whom I greatly admire,” Eric said.
Rick Witkowski, who produced the couple’s second CD, Glutton's Graffiti, also produced Mixed Metaphors.  Rick owns Studio L in Weirton, WV, which is where they recorded the CD.  The Tara and Eric provide keyboards and vocals. The other musicians, all friends of the couple, are:  David McKee (drums), Bob Banerjee (violin and mandolin), Anthony Rankin (drums), and Witkowski (guitar, bass guitar, and other "ear candy"). 
The titles, as Eric described them, include:

  •  My Tribe, “a song about the church at its best, which is the "tribe" that I call home; the song also laments the ease with which we abandon our Tribe to focus on lesser things, hence the chorus, ‘Where has my tribe gone…’" 
  • Always Hope, a song about the relentless hope that we have in Jesus--not a pie in the sky kind of hope that denies the reality of suffering, but a transforming hope, grounded in the conviction that nothing that we face by way of adversity is beyond what God can heal and redeem 
  • Twenty-one Hours, wirtten on a plane coming home from Zimbabwe--a 21- hour flight!  This song looks at time--hours, days, and minutes--as an opportunity to engage the rhythms of the Holy Spirit unfolding in our midst
  • Covenant, written early in 1991 for our wedding the following year;  Tara's brothers played and sang it at our wedding, and I wanted it to be the "love song" on this album, all these years later.
  • One More Day, a song about grief and its complexity; it references the desire to have one more day, or hour, or minute with those we have lost.
The CD and download cards are available through the office at Butler First UMC’s  downtown campus or at the welcome center at the Crossfire Campus. The price for each CD or download card is $10. Checks can be made out to "Eighth Avenue Place."

The CD also can be ordered or downloaded from the Parks’ CD Baby webpage, where you can listen to clips, for $15. (The price difference covers the additional cost of CD Baby's service, maximizing the benefit to Eighth Avenue Place.) "Mixed Metaphors" is available on iTunes as well.