Thirty years of evangelizing the lost, edifying the saints and exalting Jesus Christ, is a momentous and incredible missions legacy that has literally impacted thousands of individuals, locally and nationwide. Such is the pastoral career and life of Bishop Keith W. Reed Sr., the senior pastor of Sharon Baptist Church. On May 19, Sharon Baptist will celebrate Reed’s long legacy with a gala event at the Please Touch Museum–Memorial Hall, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, in Fairmount Park.
In April and May, prominent national and local preachers have made guest stops at Sharon Baptist to honor their beloved friend and fellow clergyman. Reed has produced at least a half-dozen senior pastors who are shepherding their own congregations. Some of the sons of Sharon and locally renowned guest preachers have included: the Rev. Curtis Morris, Bethany Baptist Church in Chester; the Rev. Emanuel Lambert, Alpha Worship Center in Bear, Del.; and the Rev. Wayne Croft, Church of the Redeemer. One of several nationally known guest preachers included the Rev. E. Dewey Smith, senior pastor, The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga.
On April 28, Sharon Baptist held a free concert in honor of Bishop Reed. Superstar gospel recording artist Bishop Hezekiah Walker and his Love Fellowship Choir headlined the list of those performing before several thousand attendees
Walker, 46, a Stellar and Grammy Award winner, performed at least two hours of his past and current hits.
“When I think of Sharon and Bishop Reed, and all that he has contributed to the community, it was no problem for me to come in to do (a free concert),” he said. “I left there in good spirits … and it was a free event … People were able to come in without a charge and really enjoy themselves.
“I’ve been coming to Philadelphia since about 1989, and every time I come, it’s just mad love. It’s just been great every year. … Philadelphia is a place that really keeps Hezekiah Walker (and Love Fellowship Choir) on the map.”
Reed has many others who think highly of him.
“Bishop Reed has been a blessing to me and my family, he’s a good brother, he teaches sound doctrine and he’s just a good man,” said Mike Brown, 58, a deacon at Sharon Baptist Church. Brown has been at Sharon for 29 years and said Reed is both pastor and a friend. One sermon that has resonated with Brown for years was Reed’s message entitled “From the Pit to the Palace.”
“It was a series on Joseph, on how we can go from tragedy to triumph … at the time, I needed to hear that because I was having a valley experience in my life,” Brown said.
Marva Mack, 72, has been a member of the church for 31 years.
“I love Dr. Reed,” said Mack, who is active in the choir and hospitality ministries. “He’s truly helped me become stronger in my faith and my walk with God … I admire how humble he can be … and how he preaches on a level where from the youngest to the oldest can understand it.”
The Rev. Chad Hinson, 40, the pastor of evangelism at Sharon Baptist, met Reed years ago on the preaching circuit,
Hinson said he has been a member at Sharon for seven years. “(Bishop Reed) was always a trailblazer, and we, as younger preachers, always looked up to him. Hinson said he resigned from his senior pastor role at Lakeshore Baptist Church to join Reed.
“He was the one guy to reach out (to me), …” said Hinson, who credits Reed for restoring him back to ministry leadership and fellowship.
“After 30 years, my brother has been so impactful, not just in our family, but to Sharon Baptist Church and the communities,” said Rho Reed, the bishop’s older sister. “His legacy, his ministry, his teaching, his preaching is known internationally.”
“He makes the Word of God so portable, he breaks it down so that anyone can understand the Gospel,” said Rho Reed, who handles conference and concert facility rentals and public relations for Sharon Baptist. She also created the Rose Petals ministry to develop young women ages 12 to 18 to be responsible adult women.
Judge John Milton Younge, 57, was baptized at Sharon Baptist in 1961. He too has become an admirer of Reed.
“I met Pastor Reed when he first came in 1982,” Younge said, “but I wasn’t really active in the church until after I got married and had children in 1985.”
Under Reed’s leadership, Younge went on to rededicate his life to Christ and is a financial steward and a deacon at Sharon Baptist.
Younge marvels at Reed’s level of Bible literacy and teaching acumen.
“By teaching us the Bible, we’ve caught it,” he said. “We’ve caught his love of Christ, we’ve caught his love of the Bible. … He (teaches) the Bible and you can check it for yourself.”
Asked to name his favorite pastors, Reed responded, “Aw, man, I got a list of them.”
His short list includes, “A few that really made a difference in my life, ‘cause no man is an island … some of the guys who have been a blessing in my life, and still are a blessing in my life, the late Rev. Timothy Ruffin, senior pastor of Beulah Baptist Church, the late Rev. Dr. E.K. Bailey … he living legend, the Rev. Dr. Willie Richardson of Christian Stronghold Church; one of the individuals God has used in a mighty way is the Rev. Dr. A.L. Patterson, out of Houston, Texas.” Reed cites Patterson as his personal pastor and mentor to whom he is accountable.
In 30 years under Reed, Sharon Baptist has grown from several hundred members to several thousand. It has one of the largest African-American congregations in Philadelphia, and is a multi-million-dollar enterprise that includes real estate, an elementary school, an all African-American male academy, a community development corporation, and fiscal business operations.
Reed credits God and his entire team of leaders for the growth.
“(As a senior pastor, I am not) gifted to do everything,” said Reed. He and his wife, Lynne, have four children. “One of the key things that I’ve learned in these 30 years, every shepherd has a staff … the staff was there to assist.”
Sharon Baptist Church is located at 3955 Conshohocken Ave. For gala tickets information or ministry information, call the church at (215) 473-3000.
Sunday worship is at 7:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.; Prayer night is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays; Bible study is at 7 p.m. Tuesdays.
Courage comes in many forms, but the most courageous people work through personal set-backs to assist and motivate others to succeed. On Sunday, May 6, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., the Philadelphia Institute of Neurodegenerative Disorders/ALS Hope Foundation will honor local gospel musician Benjamin “Ben” Toland, with its 2012 Courageous Heart and Horizon Award, at the Radnor Valley Country Club in Villanova, Pa.
Several years ago, Ben was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neuromuscular disease that causes destruction to the nerve cells controlling voluntary muscle movement. Before his debilitating condition, Ben was an active father, music ministry leader, and highly in-demand keyboard player for area churches and national gospel artists. ALS has taken a toll on Ben’s body, relegating him to a wheelchair and neck brace, but his faith in God continues to amaze and inspire all his family and friends and those that come to know his situation!
“(Ben’s) faith is so incredibly strong,” said John ‘Big John’ Bauer, 59, a member of Covenant Fellowship Church, in Glen Mills, Pa., where both Ben and John worship. Bauer met Ben during a small care-group gathering at their church. Ben was a former member of Sharon Baptist Church, where he’d been on staff as a choir director and professional musician.
Ben has very limited mobility; family, friends, medical staff and his church family have been very supportive, providing physical assistance, encouragement, therapy and much prayer to buttress him during his challenging life journey. But through the pain and major physical limitations, Ben has remained extremely faithful to God. His faith is inspiring; so many people who know him or know of his testimony. “I have never met a person (of faith) like this … he’s one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met,” shared Bauer.
Patric Paris, 56, a cyber school teacher and church care group leader at Covenant Fellowship, shared, “ALS is probably one of the most devastating things that anybody can go through — my buddy Ben is doing an amazing job of keeping an extremely positive perspective about (his condition). And, I think the secret to his ability to do that is his strong faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
In 2011, Ben’s wife Jennifer Toland, 37, organized a musical tribute to celebrate her husband’s life and indelible faith. Hundreds of family, friends, church members, gospel choirs and clergy packed Covenant Fellowship Church to celebrate a man who’s made enormous contributions in the lives of thousands, via the ministry of music, inspiring exuberant praise and worship of God in songs and faithful worship. National recording artist Gerald Veasely made a surprise appearance to perform a tribute to Ben. Veasley’s jazz rendition on some classic gospel hymns brought tears to many in attendance, including his friend and honored guest, Ben.
“(My husband) has really been blessed to be noted and recognized over and over — the Lord is really using his story and his testimony to spread Christ throughout the land,” shared Jennifer, eluding to Ben’s national coverage in a Muscular Dystrophy Association’s national newsletter scheduled for public release May 5, 2012, and his 2012 Courageous Heart and Horizon Award. Commenting about what she admires most about her husband, Jennifer said, “Ben’s spirit doesn’t give up.” She mentioned how amazed people are about Ben’s upbeat spirit going through his ordeal, and the trade-mark smile he displays in spite of his physical limitations.
The Tolands have four children, Ben Jr., Michael, David and Lailah. Michael, 15, really admires his dad: “I just love his heart.” Michael shared that his dad has a humorous personality; but he also acknowledges that Ben has a very serious personality that he admires, too.
“I became a musician at 4 years old — over (the years), I have ministered the Gospel through song for so long, that it’s almost automatic that I take a spiritual view of everything that I’m going through,” said Ben. To speak and be heard clearly, Ben has to remove his oxygen mask that he consistently wears; for him to simply breath on his own is a challenge.
Ben’s voice is very soft, fragile and slightly slurred; he wears a neck brace to compensate for the loss of some muscle control in his neck. When he speaks, he compels the listener to really hone in and concentrate on what he’s sharing. He said, “I think it would be a wasted lifetime to sing about the love of Christ, the forgiveness of the Father and the sustenance of the Holy Spirit, and not to be able to draw on (God’s strength) for myself. (My faith) was an obvious landing point for me, because I believe in everything that I’ve sang, played and taught.”
A bright and well-read man, Ben is a huge Eagles fan and a sports junkie! He admires how his favorite athletes display their courage in the arenas, on the field, battling against their competition. Commenting about the source of his own inspired courage, Ben offered, “The key behind my courage is that it doesn’t lie in myself, it lies in the power that’s given to me through the blood of Jesus. My physical body is just a shell, it’s not the source (of my strength) — no matter what happens to me, I know that my ultimate destination is to be with (Jesus).”
Sharon Baptist Church is one of the most identifiable churches in Philadelphia, falling under the category of the mega denominations that is seemingly larger than life.
However, Bishop Keith W. Reed Sr. said congregation is just like any other church in its mission. Their purpose is to engage, equip, empower, embrace and evangelize. These are tasks they do not take for granted and the more hands they have to accomplish these means, the better; there is no being just another face in the crowd.
“In the midst of being mega, you have to be micro,” he said. “You have to be small. So, we have small care groups in the church and they meet once a week.”
“You will only be lost in the sauce if you choose to be. You’ll fall in the cracks if you choose but overall, we’re pretty much a welcoming church and a friendly church and our motto is the more the merrier.”
Reed has been the senior past for the past 30 years and has overseen the church grow to 7,000 members.
“It used to make me feel, ‘Wait a minute, this is a too much for a guy from the projects,’” he said.
To his flock, Reed is the symbol of a man who has an unwavering commitment to the proclamation and the people who look to him for spiritual guidance.
“He’s a father to the church and he’s a friend to the community,” Ed Kargbo said. “He’s very down to earth and he relates to people. He understands and he’s easy to talk to.”
Kargbo has been a member of Sharon for the past eight years and is an armor-bearer to Reed.
“Bishop Reed is accessible. If I have a personal problem, I can bring it up to him and he can help me with my personal problem,” he said. “He’s a personable pastor. He listens and he understands.”
Thomas Hopper also shared the belief that Reed was a true follower of Christ. He first came to Sharon a decade ago on the urging of his fiancée. He has since married in the church, taken on the title of multi media director and has grown spiritually in the church.
“Bishop Reed has allowed me to grow in character because there are some things now that I wouldn’t do, maybe I would’ve done back in the day prior going to the church,” Hopper said. “When you come to Sharon, now that we are not a perfect church, but we are a church that is striving towards perfection and we are a family oriented church despite the size of the church you will still feel that family feel.”
Barbara Ash has been a part of the Sharon family for 11 years. She was long ago impressed with how all the members came together as one body.
“My experience at the church has been something I never experienced before,” she said. “The biggest thing that impressed me about the church is that first of all, Bishop Reed was able to get young Black men to join the church.”
She continued about the influence that Reed has demonstrated.
“He makes sure that everyone is part of the church,” Ash said. “I think that’s his draw. He makes everyone feel like they’re most important person in the church.”
The strength in numbers has allowed Sharon to become an integral part of their community. There are various ministries focused on being a help to those in need. Reed said he was the first to ask for assistance.
“I think it’s putting the right people with the right skill sets in the right position and they help you do the work of the ministry. It’s a tragedy when I see churches that are growing and pastors still think they can maintain it by themselves,” he said.
“I think that used to be a mindset back in the day when the pastor was everything.”
Reed continued about the practicalities of recognizing the talents of others rather to reel from intimidation.
“I think that in our day if you’re going to survive and survive well, you have to understand that there are people who have different gifts,” he said.
“I think that keeps it from becoming overwhelming. I think that if we think that we are a one man band then I think it can become very consuming and short lived too; don’t cut your days short on this side.”
Reed said Sharon, with all hands joined together, would continue to uphold the church’s mantra. It was the secret behind his long tenure at the pulpit.
“I think it’s the mandate to just evangelize the lost, edify those that are found and exalt our savior,” he said.
“I think it’s always something that we’re reaching for.”
Sharon Baptist Church will host the gospel adaptation of “The Wiz” titled “A Gate Called Straight” Jan. 11 and 12. The star-studded cast featuring BeBe Winans will be directed by Broadway alum Stephanie Mills.
The play was written by sisters Jorrae and Kelly L. Beard and narrates the story of a young woman named Grace. She is knocked unconscious and awakens in The Land of Grand. She encounters twists and turns that test her faith.
Kelly L. Beard, founder and CEO of Spirit of Praise Collaboration, explained the process behind the gospel production. She and her sister were inspired after sitting around at the table.
“We kind of realized that ‘The Wiz’ itself had a lot of spiritual elements to it that really could be transferred over into a spiritual type of play,” Beard said.
Beard also said that more wasn’t often done with this type of play and the sisters wanted to remedy that.
“The other thing was that often times that I don’t take away anything from what people have done in terms of gospel theatrics but one of the things that we don’t do a very good job is producing quality productions, something that’s comparable to a Broadway production,” she said.
“So, we really wanted to do something that would kind of raise the bar on how gospel theater is viewed and so in doing that, we brought on some of the best of the best.”
One of those marquee names includes Mills, who is making her directorial debut.
“It’s a wonderful feeling because I’m working with talented, talented people. There are wonderfully talented people here in Philadelphia. We have some newcomers that I think are just going to become some super-duper stars,” Mills said.
“I love being on the opposite side because I get to give back. I sat under some wonderful directors throughout my career. So, I take everything that I’ve learned and I give it to them.”
Three time Emmy winner Bill Jolly, known for his work as musical director of ‘The Wiz,’ was the music director for this adaptation. He composed 20 songs in two weeks.
“What made it even tougher is that I not only have to create it but I had to create it and teach the choir those 20 songs and then record the choir for the soundtrack album that we put together and get the band together. So, it was literally trying to do four or five jobs in the same amount of time,” Jolly said.
“I’m one of those people that is pretty focused. When I know something that has to get done, all I see is the finish line.”
Jolly felt that the music would add to the meaning of the play.
“When you have a show like this, when you have a play like this, the dialogue and the story is very important but it’s also very important to have something that’s humble and something that people can sing along with and take home with them and people love to hear great singers,” Jolly said.
“The music really allows people to get the full experience of what’s going on, not just the dialogue but really an appreciation of the great singers and the great vocalists and the messages that come sometimes that they can only get through the music.”
Eric. O. Shipman, a gospel artist and homegrown talent, has one of the starring roles as the lion.
“It’s pretty exciting because I’ve acted in other plays before this at different churches and different productions. So, I really like it,” Shipman said.
“I didn’t start pursuing it until later on and I knew that I had that kind of talent. I didn’t start to tap into it a little bit later on.”
Shipman shared what he hoped the audience would take from the play, which is approximately two hours and 15 minutes long.
“The message that I think they will get out of this is that no matter who you are in life, you can achieve anything that God has set out for you no matter what you have experienced in life, on matter what has happened in your life,” he said.
“No matter what anybody says about you … you are what God says you are and that through Jesus, you can do all things.”
Tickets are on sale starting at $40. For more information, visit www.spiritofpraisecollab.eventbrite.com.
On Jan. 24, gospel royalty was in Philadelphia to celebrate the release of his 7th album. Kurt Carr’s latest CD, “Bless This House,” features 17 songs. A throng of adoring fans turned out to celebrate Carr during a CD signing at The Sound of Market music store downtown Philadelphia.
He also performed a mini concert at Sharon Baptist Church where Bishop Keith W. Reed Sr. is the senior pastor. Carr is good friends with Bryant Pugh, the minister of music at Sharon Baptist. Pugh is a popular keyboardist for many A-List gospel artists.
Known for such enduring hits as “I Almost Let Go,” “In the Sanctuary” and the classic “For Every Mountain,” Carr’s new CD release appears destined to jettison to chart topping success and undisputed musical acclaim. His new single, “I’ve Seen Him Do It,” is the #2 christian & gospel song on iTunes.
Carr’s new release “Bless This House” (Verity Gospel Music Group) offers a great variety of diverse music. From the fully orchestrated “Let Everything That Has Breath Praise,” featuring praise and worship leader extraordinaire Dr. Judith McAllister, to the testimonial driven “I’ve Seen Him Do It,” even the most discerning gospel music aficionado will enjoy this album.
“I’m on this mountain, but trust me, I just came out of a valley,” said Carr. “Usually, whenever you go to a mountaintop, there’s been a valley preceding it. So, God is just so faithful, that’s what makes me smile.”
Carr said his adversities fuel his drive to remain positive to minister great music and to remain ever faithful in God.
“Everything works together for our good,” he said. “So, why doubt Him — we repent, we get up, go again, and trust God some more.”
Carr doesn’t define his success by chart topping numbers or unit sales. His focus goes deeper.
“My success is doing the will of God,” he said. “I was in Africa, of all places, and a pastor said ‘If you have a 10 thousand member church in France, but God called you to be a pastor of a church of 50 members in Kentucky, you’re out of the will of God.’ Success is not determined by numbers and figures, and those kinds of things, it is by doing the will of God, doing what God has called you to do.”
Whether he has had music on the charts or not, Carr believes that what has kept him relevant is his ability to fulfill God’s will by using his spiritual gift of music to minister to people worldwide.
“I’ve got a song on the record called ‘We Got to Put Jesus Back’ — number one, that’s where he belongs, put Jesus back first,” he said.
Prior to his recent double CDs’ release, Carr had been writing new music for two years. During that two year period of writing new songs, Carr was also producing and writing music for the legendary Shirley Caesar, in total, he had written over 30 songs, “That’s why I had to do a double album, cause I couldn’t, [the songs] are like my children, I couldn’t get rid of any of them, I had to do a double album. So, I had almost 20 songs, and we were scheduled to start recording at noon in Los Angeles. All my singers, from all across the country were there, waiting in the studio for me, and at 4 a.m. God gave me the song ‘Bless This House.’ And I knew, from when I started singing into my tape recorder that I have, that it wasn’t just the song, it was the title. It summarizes the whole album, cause it’s an album that I want to bless the house of God, and bless people’s homes.”
Carr graduated from the University of Hartford in 1986 with a degree in music. He later trekked to Los Angeles and became the music director and pianist for the legendary Rev. James Cleveland.
Carr credits Cleveland as being one of his greatest mentors, “I actually got my start with Rev. James Cleveland. Philly was his town. We were here more than any other city. I remember at one time, we were [performing] at five different churches in one week. And all of them were packed.”
To cap off his celebration of 20 years in the music industry, Carr was recently given special recognition in Memphis, Tenn., by a music promoter.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “The city of Memphis shut down. I was blown away.”
More than 20 different artists came out to honor Carr at the celebration by singing his music. Carr also recently received a BMI Trailblazer Award and at the 2013 Stellar Awards, he was awarded The James Cleveland Life Time Achievement Award.
“It’s amazing how God does full-circle moments. I’m just so honored to have received an award in the name of my mentor, Reverend Cleveland,” he said
Carr joked that his choir members, The Kurt Carr Singers, profess that he’s two people.
“I’m not bi-polar,” mused Carr.
On stage, Carr is electric and very high energy in his concert performances, but off stage, he’s an extreme introvert, preferring a life of solitude to recharge to minister effectively to the people of God. To keep up his frenetic stage performances, Carr has shed more than 24 pounds. He said he feels great.
Carr laments over the perilous times that are unfurling in society, particularly mourning the tragedy of the recent shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“We are living in days where people need hope and strength, and I pray that this album will bless the houses of the people,” he said.
Carr had early roots growing up near the Philadelphia area. He spent time growing up in Lawnside, N.J. He is extremely fond of Philadelphia.
“At one point, Philly was a booming place for gospel,” he said. “And I believe it can happen again. It was the gospel mecca at one point.”
A little known fact that Carr revealed, his mother named him after the actor Kirk Douglas but misspelled the first name. Carr is proud of the unique spelling of his name Kurt because it has distinguished him from his friend and original record label mate Kirk Franklin.
“Gospo Centric, which was the biggest independent label of all time; [it was] one of the biggest independent label of all times because of my success and Kirk Franklin’s success, Vicki Mack (Lataillade) sold almost 20 million records. Unprecedented,” said Carr, who is now with Sony/Verity Records.
Sharon Baptist Church will host an anniversary celebration for Bishop Dr. Keith W. Reed Sr. on Saturday May 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.
Sharon Baptist Church was founded in June 1934, with fewer than ten people who believed God and a visionary named Rev. Charles H. Bernard. For three years, the people borrowed space to worship and continued to trust the Lord for a permanent home. Change was a regular occurrence for first 12 years of Sharon’s existence, but the people remained faithful. In October 1947, God gave Sharon a pastor, Rev. Phillip M. King, who would lead the people for the next 34 years. During his tenure the church paid off its debts, purchased new property and paid off debt again.
Sharon was about 48 years old when it met a man that would lead God’s people with God’s Word into the future. In January 1982, Keith Wayne Reed Sr. changed the mission of Sharon Baptist Church. He declared that the church would use the Bible and focus on three things — evangelizing the lost, edifying the saints and exalting the Savior. From 1982 to 1997, the church grew from 280 members to more than 2000.
In September 1999, the church moved into its new sanctuary.
As a result of philanthropic thinking and commitment, Sharon Baptist Church invested over 4.1 million dollars in a brand new community center in Southwest Philadelphia, subsequent to a fire destroying the original church headquarters. Instead of rebuilding another church in Southwest, Bishop Reed wanted to revitalize the community and provide the youth, church members and neighbours a place for learning, fun and fellowship.
Sharon Baptist Church is excited about 30 years of service to our community and beyond.
We look forward to working with all stakeholders to complement the city’s continued growth and revitalization.
Sharon Baptist Church, located at 3955 Conshohocken Ave., will be the site of the next exciting Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, coming to Philadelphia on May 10. Headlined by Grammy Award winner Smokie Norful, the concert series offers an assortment of soulful sounds through contemporary gospel with Tamela Mann, hip-hop with Lecrae and “traditional/contemporary” gospel with John P. Kee and Vickie Winans.
“I am elated to again headline the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour,” said Norful. “From sharing some of my new music to introducing my son Ashton’s career on the tour, this is a phenomenal season in life. And, I’m excited to share it with fans across the nation, all in an effort to give back.”
Now in its seventh year, McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour “emphasizes the importance of giving back.” As part of each show, concertgoers will learn more about Ronald McDonald House Charities and the important role it plays in helping families and children worldwide. Attendees will also have an opportunity to participate in a “love offering” to support families served by the Charity, including those in their community.
“Giving back to those around us is crucial, especially with the recent tough times our families and communities have faced,” said Winans, who will also host each concert. “Now more than ever, our communities need to know we are there for them, and that’s something the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel tour has set out to do. I’m honored to take part in the cause, and I look forward to bringing joy and laughter to everyone who attends the concerts.”
“I am humbled to share the stage with legendary gospel artists,” said Lecrae, who won the 2013 Grammy for Best Gospel Album. “It’s amazing to see a classic brand like McDonald’s stand behind a message that’s needed in communities everywhere. Gospel fans are in for an experience I believe they’ll talk about long after the tour.”
“For generations, McDonald’s has continued its efforts to be deeply rooted — and invested — in the areas we serve, both in restaurants and in the community,” said Rob Jackson, McDonald’s U.S. marketing director. “McDonald’s is committed to giving back and we’re honored to bring messages of joy and hope to thousands of our neighbors.”
“McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, which will make stops in nine markets, is an extension of the company’s 365Black platform, which celebrates the pride, heritage and achievements of African-Americans year round. Concerts are free, with the exception of McDonald’s Gospelfest, to be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on May 11. Tickets for the May 10 concert are extremely limited. For complete information, consumers can visit www.365Black.com to learn more about the tour or call Sharon Baptist Church at (215) 473-3000.
In its seventh year of the annual concert series, last Friday award-winning gospel music artists joined for the 2013 McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour at Sharon Baptist Church, located at 3955 Conshohocken Ave.
With the mission to give back to the community by providing a free concert, the gospel tour succeeded in drawing a large and enthusiastic crowd.
The concert was hosted by seven-time Grammy-nominated gospel recording artist Vickie Winans and performances included, Smokie Norful, Tamela Mann, Lecrae and John P. Kee. Guests were welcomed by samplings from McDonald’s Smoothie Fusion Tour, followed by a reception, which led into the concert.
The McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour began May 9 and will continue through August 30. The tour will make stops through other cities Newark, Birmingham, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Louisville and Dallas.
Owner of eight McDonald’s in Pennsylvania, Tanya Holliday continues to be pleased with the gospel tour and its positive impact on the community.
Holliday attended Morgan State University and while in college worked as a crew member in McDonald’s. Completing her degree in business administration, she worked her way up the ranks through the company until eventually holding 13 corporate positions.
Holliday eventually assumed the role of vice president and in 2005 she bought her first McDonald’s restaurant. It was a proud moment for Holliday, when she bought a McDonald’s in the neighborhood she grew up in.
As a proud owner of eight restaurants, Holliday delivered the key remarks during the evening events.
“It was inspirational for me to deliver key remarks as the first Black female owner of McDonalds in Philadelphia,” she said. “The audience was very appreciative—it was a phenomenal event.”
The community enjoyed an upbeat performance and artists like LeCrae Moore, known as LeCrae, is a Christian hip hop artist who is the president, co-founder and co-owner of the independent record label Reach Records. Holliday felt LeCrae and all of the gospel performers, “engaged all the way through” the night.
McDonald’s launched the Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour as part of their 365Black platform. 365Black is McDonald’s platform for celebrating African American history and culture for 365 days a year.
Throughout the concert series, McDonald’s emphasizes the importance of giving back to the community. Attendees are given information on the Ronald McDonald House Charities. A foundation aimed to support programs that work to improve children’s health.
Holliday is looking forward to the rest of the 2013 tour and what future concerts will hold in the years to come. She feels the concert in Philadelphia was a success.
“The audience really enjoyed every artist we brought to the stage, it was an excellent event,” she said.