The Berea Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church of Nyack held their eighth annual Pastor’s Appreciation and Charitable Appreciation Dinner on October 28, at the Nyack Seaport. Pastor Andrew Philbert, PhD was honored, as well as Joe Allen (Communication Department Honoree) and Sonia Tracey (of the MLK Multi-Purpose Center). The mistress of the ceremony was Dr. Frances Pratt, and the main speaker was Elder Horace Turnbull of Berea SDA Church. The theme of the dinner, “Working together in charitable fellowship”, was evidenced by the individual sponsors across Rockland County, who helped the church and community to unite under service. Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Clarkstown Town Supervisor George Hoehmann, Nyack Mayor Dr. Don Hammond, and Democratic Candidate for County Executive, L’Tanya Watkins were all in attendance. Various community activists including Goldie Bryant and Michael Mark provided themes of coalition at the dinner, while Berea SDA Church sang ‘Negro spiritual’ selections to enforce faith, in the backdrop of a cruel history.
Pastor Andrew Philbert is a native of the Spice Islands and Grenada in the West Indies and an ordained minister of the Northeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. This is the fifth time Pastor Philbert was honored by his church for his commitment to preaching, faith, fellowship, and justice.
“We must serve the community physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually in order to imitate Jesus and his service to others,” said Pastor Philbert. “We must use God’s talents and skills to project liberty, justice, and equality for all. Our younger generations especially can utilize social media to make a difference in their communities.”
Elder Horace Turnbull offered his words on the significance of the Negro spirituals, the songs of trial and tribulation sung by African-American slaves. Those desperate men and women related their experiences to those of biblical slaves in song; yet, they also carried faith that they would find freedom through Christ. Elder Turnbull cautioned the audience that these spirituals cannot be lost, as they are an integral piece of Black history.
“We need to develop a sense of community,” said Elder Turnbull. “To have unity, we need to have a dialogue. We need to understand differences, we need to be purposeful, and we need to become better citizens of our communities.”
Sonia Tracey, the charitable recipient of the Martin Luther King (MLK) Multi-Purpose Center, is a life member and Co-Chair of the Civic Engagement Committee of the NAACP Spring Valley Branch. She had proudly served on the Board of the MLK Multi-Purpose Center, where she strives to achieve Dr. King’s dream of building the “beloved community.” Tracey also serves on State Senator’s Elijah Reichlin-Melnick’s Civil Rights Policy Counsel.
“I stand on the shoulders of all of those who worked for our freedom and equality,” said Tracey.
The MLK Multi-Purpose Center is a nonprofit community-based organization in Spring Valley, New York. In the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, the Multi-Purpose Center provides several necessary programs to help adults, children, families and elders lead productive, and healthy lives. The Center has served Rockland since 1978 and provides Rocklanders with after school and summer programs, youth employment programs, community health programs, senior nutrition assistance programs, and a food pantry.
Dr. Frances Pratt, who has spearheaded the racial advocacy in Nyack and Rockland, was credited by the honorees.
“Frances is passionate about God and her community,” said Elder Turnbull. “She has the strength to persevere and pull people together. She develops ideals of culture, citizenship, and faith to foster the advancement of all people. She says it like she believes it, she is saving lives.”
Pratt addressed all those in attendance at the dinner as “part of a great audience.” All those present, most notably from the Berea SDA Church and MLK Multi-Purpose Center, are a testament to the Chrisitian fellowship and devotion to service that those honored called for.