port of harlem magazine

November 30 - December 13, 2007


Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson Pen Commemorative Song

nick and valarie simpson with calvin buttsNick Ashford & Valerie Simpson (c) recently joined Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III (r) at The Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem to give the debut performance of their original theme song, "Be Blessed" - written to commemorate Abyssinian's 200th anniversary.  The singing duo unveiled the song at Abyssinian's 199th anniversary worship service, where Rev. Dr. James Perkins (l) of the Greater Christ Baptist Church in Detroit served as the guest pastor.

The bicentennial celebration, "Abyssinian 200: True to Our God, True to Our Native Land," continues throughout 2008 with a series of community events and initiatives including a collaboration with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center, a book with contributions by Drs. Maya Angelou and Cornel West, an exhibition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a white-tie dignitary gala, and a partnership with StoryCorps (the national oral-history project in partnership with the Library of Congress).

As reported in Snippets, Abyssinian embarked on a two-week pilgrimage to Ethiopia - Abyssinian's native land - in September.  During the pilgrimage, Rev. Butts and the group met with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, His Holiness Abune Paulos, and several ministers of the Ethiopian government to obtain information and explore opportunities for Abyssinian to translate its development models and consider a viable course of action to support the people and progress of Ethiopia.
Note: Blacks from the United States and Ethiopia founded the church.  “True to Our God, True to Our Native Land,” is a line taken from the National Black Anthem written by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson of Jacksonville, FL.

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