Lively artists draw young crowd

Gospel concert lures neighborhood teens
By T Martin

Entertainment. Praise. Worship. Prayer. Reverence. From the very old to the very young, faces reflected these emotions in the highly charged concert hosted by the John 3:16 Assembly of God Church on Friday, February 27th.

Add refreshing.

Refreshing to go into a church on a Friday night and to be surrounded by North Philly’s young people.

Refreshing to see and hear riveting performances by some very talented young spiritual artists at the church located at 5th and Cumberland Streets in West Kensington.

Refreshing to hear teens rededicate their lives to God during the electrifying performances by who could be the most devoted young spiritual musicians North Philly has hosted yet.

Add exciting.

Exciting numbers with about a hundred neighborhood residents, from the elderly right down to squealing babies, joining each other for the Youth Talent Revival Concert.

Exciting cheers as performers – vocalists, guitarists, pianists, and drummers – churned out sounds of praise in words that the youngest children could understand and tunes that pillars of the church let move them.

Exciting voices as familiar songs filled the air of the dimly lit house of worship, welcoming all present to join in the music.

“The audience was really excited and happy,” Alma Rios, one of the church’s leaders, told NF.

“It’s something they enjoyed… something we really need more of to entertain our youths.”

Rios is one of several church leaders involved in organizing and implementing youth activities at the church. The event is one of several that take place the last Friday of every month for the church’s Youth Ministry.

“The last Friday of every month, we have something special for the youths. Each month is a different event.”

According to Rios, area youths might be invited to a Movie Night or another fun activity that captures their interests and keeps them off the streets. Depending on the activity planned for the month, church leaders might begin organizing events two or three months in advance.

The youth concert, spearheaded by Nilda Natal, was in the works as early as January of this year. Working with some youths from the area and from Cedar Grove High School, Natal and the group of dedicated leaders completed a presentable program with less than one month of rehearsal time.

“Once we knew what we wanted to do for the kids, we rehearsed for about a month,” Rios said.

“The show was supposed to start at 7 PM, but we started a few minutes late. I didn’t get home until about midnight after everybody had left!”

Add inviting.

From the casual conversation with Natal that led NF to 5th and Cumberland for the show to the open-arm welcome of families and youths as they trickled their way in even after the show started, the concert made people want to stay and participate in a display of sincere appreciation for the power that saved many of the performers in the show.

From the solo performances to the band ensembles, audience participation and interaction was evident in every song and throughout the breaks in the program.