In a spirit of ecumenicism and civic activism, Union Baptist Church in West Baltimore will present “Amazing Grace: Uniting Community,” a free concert Oct. 11 featuring notable classical and jazz artists. The event is an outgrowth of collaborations in recent years between Union Baptist and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
“During this time when there is so much pitting groups against each other in Baltimore, I thought let’s see what we could unite around for community betterment,” said Union Baptist pastor the Rev. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr.
Among those performing during the concert will be the celebrated Baltimore-born jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut; Grammy-nominated classical and crossover violinist Jenny Oaks Baker; and Baltimore native Richard Elliott, principal organist of the famed Salt Lake City-based ensemble long known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (the name was changed last week to Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square).
Also appearing at the event will be a former U.S. senator from Oregon, Gordon H. Smith, who is an elder in the LDS church and president/CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.
“It’s frankly freeing when people can put aside any differences there may have been, and come together in a common purpose,” said Michael Brady, Baltimore stake president of the LDS. “We’ve had a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship with Dr. Hathaway and Union Baptist. We’re hoping this concert will spotlight the good things that can happen when people work together.”
Collaboration between Union Baptist and the LDS over the past several years led to the building of four playgrounds in West Baltimore, Hathaway said. Other projects are being considered.
“Out of this concert, there will be more outreach,” Hathaway said. “We’re going to band together to renovate a community center, which is going to be a work force center that will become a pipeline to the Port Covington jobs that are coming. So this is not just a concert, but a call to action.”