Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

German Choir to Appear at Black Heritage Center; the Center Is Trying to Raise Funds to Expand Its Tutoring Programs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

German Choir to Appear at Black Heritage Center; the Center Is Trying to Raise Funds to Expand Its Tutoring Programs

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

JACKSONVILLE BEACH - Leaders of a heritage center that was a Beaches-area black school are raising money to expand its tutoring programs with a performance by a German choir that embraces the spiritual dimension of contemporary gospel music.

The Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Heritage Center is trying to raise $10,000 to expand its math, reading and art tutoring and other youth activities at the former schoolhouse where Beaches-area black children were once taught apart from whites.

At 7 p.m. Friday, the 70-member Unlimited Gospel Expressions will perform a Fall Gospel Musical at St. Andrews African Methodist Episcopal Church at 125 Ninth St. S. in Jacksonville Beach. There is no admission fee, but program coordinators will ask for donations.

The choir is a combination of the Light of Life Gospel Choir from Cologne, Germany, and the Wave of Joy Gospel Choir from Bonn, Germany. The two classically trained choirs joined for a 10-day Florida tour to continue exploring and promoting the roots and spirit of contemporary black gospel music.

Choir members were first exposed to gospel music, worship services and churches when they came to the U.S. in 1999. Each year since, choir members have returned to enhance their appreciation of how gospel music touches the soul and attracts people to church, said the choir's director, Angelika Rehaag.

"Germany has two main state churches with an old tradition of classically trained choirs and pastors who preach on a very high theological level," said Rehaag. "Because this group's presentation is more a worship experience than a concert, the music opens doors to new spiritual dimensions that were unknown in Germany; it has changed so many lives."

The fundraiser is meant to expand youth programs at the Heritage Center at Fourth Avenue and Fourth Street South in Jacksonville Beach. …

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