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Hudson Valley Press

February 20th, 2013

‘Hands United in Peace’ at A.M.E. Zion Church

Youth members of “Voices of Hope” sing along to the song, “Cover the World with Love” during Saturday’s first annual “Hands United in Peace” program, a celebration held at the 186-year-old A.M.E. Zion Church of Newburgh, NY.

NEWBURGH - "A rainbow coalition." These words captured the vision Dovetta Beamon had when she came up with the idea for Saturday’s "Hands United in Peace" event, held at The A.M.E. Zion Church in Newburgh, the oldest African American Church in the Hudson Valley at 186 years old.

Sister Beamon was first inspired to create the multicultural gathering by the thought of freedom marches and similar events including people from all races. She pondered how she wanted children to fully grasp this integral concept in our history, ultimately deciding to put this unifying concept in motion. She invited an assortment of folks from different churches in the Newburgh area to congregate and share at the A.M.E. Zion Church locale on Washington Street. The result was a beautiful rainbow of people, bonding in dance, song and prayer.

"We are all one, and I really want the kids to know that," stressed Beamon, a retired voice teacher, who taught in the City of Newburgh School District for many years.

The first annual event assisted the A.M.E. Zion Church Home Missions Program, aimed at assisting people in need in the City of Newburgh by providing an ongoing food pantry as well as clothes. Still another thread was woven throughout the program - African American History Month.

Kicking off with praise and prayer, the hour long program included some adult music contributions before highlighting the talents of area youth. Whether it was the High Definition Dance Company lighting up the stage with its rhythmic movements, Aizia Spencer Smith providing a sweet melody during her cello solo, "Voices of Hope" performing a song or two-year-old budding dancer, Shannon Easterlin, dancing with her mother Paulette, young artistic flair filled the Church. Shannon’s mother, Paulette Easterlin, was touched by her opportunity to take part in the affair.

"Being able to foster the children for our future and our community is just so important," said Easterlin.

While many similar events showcase adult talent, one of the focuses of Saturday’s "Hands United in Peace" was to change that venue, highlighting the abilities of as well as support for our youth.

"I would like to see more of these kinds of events," said A.M.E. Zion Church Reverend, Twila Rucker Caines, who referenced Martin Luther King, Jr’s words, ‘One day we will overcome.’ "I’m working with the City to make that happen; in order to be empowered we need to encourage one another and come together as one, overcoming with love."

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