News Release

Latter-day Saints, Baptists Worship Together at Christmas Jubilee 

The joyous songs of Christmas — both old and new — rang through the Mount Moriah Baptist Church in the heart of Los Angeles Sunday evening, December 13, 2015, as Baptists and Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) gathered together for a Christmas concert.


In the Baptist tradition, all guests were encouraged to clap to the beat of the music and offer "amens" as pastors and speakers spoke of Jesus Christ’s humble birth in Bethlehem. About 600 attended, one of the largest turnouts in the 10-year history of the event. 

Alex Boyé, an entertainer and a former member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, wasted no time bringing the crowd to its feet with a lively rendition of an Africanized song accompanied by the rhythmic sounds of a traditional tribal drum. Boyé closed with “Mary Did You Know?” and “Silent Night,” which the audience joined in singing. The Celebration Mass Choir from Mount Moriah Baptist Church opened the evening songfest with a trio of Christian-based Christmas songs. Rachel and Peter Mugemancuro, a brother and sister musical duo from Pasadena, California, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also performed a violin and piano duet. 

Dr. Melvin Wade, pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church, greeted the audience, quoting New Testament scripture. He told the story of a woman saved during the 9/11 destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center and likened it to our reliance on the Savior. Elder Gary Wilde, Area Seventy, shared a personal story of his grandfather, a sheepherder from the Near East, who taught him the craft of being a good shepherd. Through his grandfather’s accounts, Elder Wilde came to understand how shepherds are instinctively trained to give their lives to protect their sheep and that sheep learn to hear and follow the shepherd’s voice — all of which were symbols of how Jesus Christ is the shepherd and Savior of mankind.

      

The opening prayer was given by Dr. E. Wayne Gaddis, senior pastor of the Greater True Light Missionary Baptist Church and president of the California Missionary Baptist State Convention, which represents about 250 congregations.

During a brief interlude, Alma Bailey, director of the annual Discover Your Roots genealogy conference, sponsored by the Church’s Southern California Public Affairs Council (SCPAC), encouraged all attendees to get engaged in the Freedmen’s Bureau Project. The 4.2 million names of freed slaves locked in the records will help families “find their ancestors and satisfy that deep yearning to know their past.”

Pastor L. A. Kessee of the Bethany Baptist Church said, “What I saw tonight was unity under the umbrella of Jesus Christ.” Chip Rawlings, director of the SCPAC, said the gathering was “a relationship of love from beginning to end.” Dean Helen Williams of Pepperdine University said, “Anything you do in unity, and Christ is at the center, you are going to find something that connects us. It’s divinely inspired.” Baptist and Mormon participants unitedly said they hoped this event would help break down stereotypes, forge new friendships and open the door for combined service work within their communities.

Mount Moriah Baptist Church chapel has a 1,000-seat sanctuary that was built in 1973 on Figueroa Street. Since the 1940s, Mount Moriah has been a gathering place for the Baptist community in Los Angeles.    

 

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