Who’d a thunk it: a gospel music festival at a Jewish medical facility. But that’s exactly what happened on Sunday, Oct. 10 at Brooklyn’s Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center – and it was magnificent!
As Enid Dillard, director of marketing at Kingsbrook, told the 250 persons who packed the medical center’s ballroom, from when she first began working there eight years ago she dreamed of holding a gospel festival.
When she met Pastor Gilford Monrose from Mt. Zion Church of God (7th Day), she knew that this “young minister on fire, anointed in the Holy Spirit” was exactly the right collaborator. They put their heads together and created Unity Gospel Fest, an afternoon of healing and inspiration celebrating spiritual and physical wellness, sponsored by Kingsbrook, Mt. Zion and the not-for-profit community service organization, Brooklyn Center for Quality Life.
Dillard went on to explain that even though Kingsbrook was founded in the Jewish tradition, it realizes that its main base is the African American and Caribbean American community. “We embrace that and try to meld ourselves along the same social fabric as the people we serve,” she said. “So if we know that our community is about the church, then we should be about the church.”
Kingsbrook is also very attuned to the health disparities found within the community it serves. Therefore, as people entered the ballroom lobby, they were offered valuable health and wellness information on such crucial issues as diabetes, stroke, hypertension, prostate cancer and more. They could also sign up for free health screenings and obtain information about Kingsbrook’s adult day health care center.
Participants then entered the ballroom where their spiritual needs were met in abundance through the healing sounds of gospel music in all its variety – everything from traditional to gospel rap, with a wealth of Caribbean gospel and contemporary along the way. The emotions invoked by the music ran the gamut as well. Some performances provided a soothing balm to the troubled soul while others made one dance with joy.
Pastor Wendy Mitchell got the fest off to a fabulous start, bringing participants to their feet as they waved their arms in the air and sang along with her gospel renderings set to an irresistible soca beat. Sharing their gifts as well were soloists Daniel King, Franklin Chue, Kathyan Belgrave and Michelle Need. Status IV, Sounds of Restoration, Real Worship and The Raheem Family also turned in thrilling performances, as did Clavia & Angel, Team T-N-T and the step group Kandi.
A surprise highpoint of the afternoon occurred when Enid Dillard herself was persuaded to sing. It turns out she is a very accomplished artist in her own right, as could be seen through her soul stirring rendition of “I Love the Lord.”
Special healing prayers, led by Elder John Williams, were also offered for the Kingsbrook long-term care facility residents who attended. As the event’s emcee DJ Disciple said, “They can’t get to church, so we brought church to them.”
Pastor Marvin Skeete from the Spirit Station (106.3 FM) was kind enough to add his voice to the proceedings, while youthful musicians from Mt. Zion Church very generously provided backup for various singers.
The next Annual Unity Gospel Fest will be held Oct. 9, 2011. Persons interested in participating should call (718) 604-5062.