Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Children help their great-grandmother stay young

The Rev. Margaret ‘Meg’ Watson
The Rev. Margaret ‘Meg’ Watson

I am always amazed at how children think. Take for example my two great-grandsons, who don’t seem to see me as a old person. Let me tell you why:

Earlier this year, the two of them — Jaylen, 9 and Tavaris, 8 — started drum and guitar lessons, respectively. The lessons are a gift from their Grandma Debra. My job is to get them to the once-a-week lessons.

Over the course of several months, Jaylen has formed a band (in his head), with himself on the drums, Tavaris on lead guitar, Jaylen’s classmate Kyle one of the soloists, and another friend, Zack, on the keyboard. My job is to be the manager and backup soloist.

Forget that I am Great-Grandma. In my boys’ eyes, I am forever young. I love it.

These days, our time together is spent mostly going over the plans for the band: where to practice, how to raise the money for the needed instruments and how to get booked. It has been determined that practice will take place at my house (Lord help me). And Jaylen already has $89 toward the instruments. Getting booked is another thing. “You boys must first learn to play the instruments,” I say to them.

Not to worry, they assure me. And as far as getting the money for instruments, Tavaris came up with the idea of standing on a corner, giving free concerts, while passersby drop money in a hat that Tavaris has placed on the ground.

“We can get a lot of money like that,” he said. “And then we will have enough money for the new instruments.”

The only problem: They still have to learn to play the instruments.

When the boys talk about their musical dreams, their eyes seem to grow bigger and brighter. They have faith in their dream — and that 15 or so years from now, I will still be around, competent and agile enough to be their manager and to sing a few songs while the band backs me. They are truly believers.

When we discuss our future plans for the band, I don’t discourage them. I want them to believe in their dreams, but I do caution them to the fact that I might not be around. At such times Jaylen says with a half smile, “Aww, Grandma, you will be around for a long time. Remember, I’m still going to be sitting on your lap when I’m 18.”

We can learn from the faith of our children. When they believe in something, no matter how dismal the future seems to be, they look beyond the hurdles and road blocks and simply see their dreams coming true. Their dreams are only deterred by an replacement dream, which is not uncommon at their age.

For example, a few months ago Jaylen was going to be a professional wrestler. A little while before that, he was going to run track professionally. (He went to the Junior Olympics last summer and brought home four medals: two gold, one silver and a bronze).

Now, he seems to be a bit undecided about a career in wrestling and said if he does becomes a professional wrestler, he will only wrestle for a little while because he wants to be around to age 78. And besides, music is a much better and more realistic dream and he can always do his running while being a musician, he said.

I love it that my boys have dreams. I love it even more that they include me in them. They don’t seem to see me as the old lady that I am. And that, my friends, helps to keep me young for real!

CHURCH ELDER CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF PREACHING

Last Sunday at The Church of Tabernacle in Liberty City was a day of remembrance and thanksgiving for Elder Oliver L. Gross and his wife, Janice. The worship service was in commemoration of Gross’ 20th preaching anniversary.

I tell you there was hardly a dry eye in the sanctuary as Gross asked four key men in his life to stand and be recognized: Bishop Walter H. Richardson, Garth Reeves, T. Willard Fair and Al Townsel.

“I’m standing on the shoulders of these men you see standing here,” Gross said through tears. “He recalled the days, more than 23 years ago, when his life was on a downward spiral and the four men mentored and prayed for him.”

It was a wonderful anniversary service as speakers, including Fair, Deacon Marshall Freeman and Arthur Gatlin Jr., all spoke of how Gross’ life has been a light to them. Deacon Rodney Poitier served as the master of ceremonies.

Fair remembered the Gross of more than 23 years ago, who came to him looking for a job and admitting that he had some “issues.” Fair put aside Gross’ issues. After being led to the church by a female mentor, Evangelist Essie M. Redmond, Gross accepted the Lord as his personal savior. Three years later, he became an evangelist at the church. Two years ago, he was appointed by Bishop Richardson as an elder.

Not only does Gross preach at the church, he is also a vice president of the Black History Committee; vice president of the Bible Class Teacher and Secretaries and is a mentor to many of the church’s young boys.

Gross is the CEO of New Urban Development, a subsidiary of the Urban League of Greater Miami, of which Fair is the president and CEO.

He and wife Janice live in Aventura and are the parents of one son Leon, and two grandsons.

MIAMI SHORES COMMUNITY CHURCH GETS NEW PASTOR

A warm Neighbors in Religion welcome to the Rev. Margaret “Meg” Watson, who is the new pastor at Miami Shores Community Church. She replaces interim minister the Rev. Bill Koch.

The church, which is a part of the United Church of Christ, bills itself as “the oldest church in Miami Shores,” and extends a special invitation to the community to the meet the new pastor at 10:30 a.m. April 17, when she conducts her inaugural service.

The church is at 9823 NE Fourth Ave. in Miami Shores.

MIAMI ORATORIO SOCIETY AND ORCHESTRA CONCERT

The Miami Oratorio Society and Orchestra will present Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in its spring concert at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at First Church of North Miami congregational, UCC, 1200 NE 135th St.

Directed by Andrew Anderson, the program will include excerpts from Handel’s Messiah and A.R. Gaul’s The Holy City. Soloists will include soprano Joanna Martinez Von Gonten; mezzo-soprano Lissette Jimenez; tenor Lievens Costillo; and bass Daniel Snodgrass.

For tickets and more information, visit miamioratorio.org or contact Judy Feldman at 305-610-0500.

JOHN SHERER CHURCH ORGAN CONCERT

The Window to the World program at First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables will feature an organ concert by John Sherer, director of music at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Sherer will perform music dramatizing the tragic ending of the ocean liner Titanic.

The music Sherer will perform was heard on the ship’s fateful voyage of April 1912, as well as songs from the ear ranging from a symphonic improvisation of the hymn Nearer My God to Thee and Londonderry Air to Alexander’s Ragtime Band and Imperial March.

Sherer has a master’s degree in both organ and art in religion from Yale and a doctorate from the Julliard School. He has performed numerous recitals throughout the United States and England and manages an active concert series at his church with over 100 events yearly.

Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago was named by USA Today as one of the top 10 places in America to be “enthralled by heavenly music,” and was the second U.S. church to be featured on the BBC program Songs of Praise. The church houses Chicago’s largest pipe organ.

At First United Methodist, Sherer will perform on the Louisa Candler Eldredge Memorial Organ, one of the largest in South Florida.

The concert is free and the community is invited. The church is at 836 Coral Way in Coral Gables. For more information, call 305-445-2578 or go to www.fumccg.org.

DANCE AND SPIRITUALITY TO BE DISCUSSED AT FIU

The Dianne Collins and Alan K. Collins Distinguished Speaker Series at Florida International University’s Program in the Study of Spirituality will feature a lecture by Andrea Seidel at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at the university’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus in GC 140.

Seidel is an associate professor of religious studies and professor emeritus of dance at FIU. According to a press release, Seidel draws on her many years of experience directing the critically acclaimed Isadora Duncan Ensemble in discussing the early 20th century dancer’s “Religion of the Body” and its “profound contemporary relevance as a potent vehicle for fostering self-integration and humanistic ideals in an increasingly dehumanized, technological world.”

The interactive presentation will be followed by a book signing of Seidel’s newly released book, Isadora Duncan in the 21st Century: Capturing the Art and Spirit of the Dancer’s Legacy.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, call 305-348-7266.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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