Religion News: Bluffton Gospel Singers to be honored May 19 at First Zion church

When Anne Cooke of Bluffton first saw the black and white photograph of the Bluffton Gospel Singers taken in the 1930s, she recognized her grandfather, Ruben Gadson, at age 48.

Cooke remembered her grandpa leading songs and lining the hymns in the First Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Bluffton. Born in 1882, he was chairman of the deacon board, a farmer, a fisherman and sailed a boat from Bluffton to Savannah.

The picture of the choir brought back many memories for Cooke. She identified two of her aunts and two cousins, as well as Albertha Brown, who served as her mentor and guide in faith.

"The picture ... that's my heritage you know," she said.

Cooke's ancestors were members of the Bluffton Gospel Singers. The singers came from three local churches: First Zion, St. John's Baptist and Campbell Chapel AME Church. The group sang a cappella spirituals such as "Rock in a Weary Land" and "Hol' De Light" at a fundraiser for a new sanctuary for St. John's at the end of Pritchard Street, according to Laura Bush, organizer of the celebration. Bush said the group was assisted by Luke Peeples, a folk song composer, arranger and researcher.

"Back in the day, you went from church to church to church," said Cooke, who has been a member of First Zion for more than 50 years.

Parishioners attended services on the first Sunday of the month at Campbell Chapel AME Church, on the second Sunday at First Zion and on the third at St. John's.

"It was a community," Cooke said. "It was like a village. Everybody lived close enough to walk or come in a car, and then some rode in a buggy-type wagon.

"When I was very young, I always liked to ride in the wagon ... everybody wanted to ride in the wagon," Cooke said.

Cooke and others will honor their ancestors with an Old Time Gullah Gospel Hour at 5 p.m. May 19 at First Zion, as a part of the church's 150th anniversary celebration.

Among the groups to perform today will be the male chorus of St. James Baptist Church of Hilton Head Island; the Male Tones of Campbell Chapel AME Church; the male chorus of First Zion Missionary Baptist; and the Rev. Joe Jordon, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist, Okatie. There will be a special presentation by St. John's.

"It didn't matter what church choir you attended, they all sang with the Bluffton Gospel Singers," Cooke said.

The church is at 10 Robertson St., Old Town Bluffton, one block from the Oyster Factory.

Providence Presbyterian Church, Hilton Head Island

The TV ministry "Cause God Joy!" is broadcast on WHHI at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. WHHI is channel 8 on Hargray Cable and channels 3 and 150 on Time Warner Cable.

Pastor Martin Lifer will lead studies and discussions on "Conversations with Christ" 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays in the Mills Building. The topic for May 22 is "Singing David's Masterpiece: Psalm 23."

The church is at 171 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head.

Details 843-842-5673

Old Ashley Baptist Association District III

The association meets at 9 a.m. May 19 at Central Baptist Church, 1111 Prince St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-846-6477

Spring Hill AME Church, Sheldon

The church's second soup kitchen is at 11 a.m. May 19. Members of the YAM group, a newly developed ministry for ages 18-45, will host the event. The church is at 20 Paige Point Road, Sheldon, across from the Sheldon Fire Station.

Details 843-263-8271

Plant the Seed Ministry

Free meals and friendly conversations are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Atlantic Inn parking lot, 2249 Boundary St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-575-2200,

The Parish Church of St. Helena

The spring concert series continues at 7 p.m. May 19 with the Choir Festival. Led by Brian Jones, formerly of Trinity Church in Boston, the festival includes St. Helena's Parish Choir and RSCM Choir of Boys and Girls, plus choir members from churches in Bluffton, Hilton Head Island and Charlotte. The series is part of the church's tricentennial celebration.

The church is at 505 Church St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-522-1712

Resurrection Church

The movie "The Encounter" begins at 7 p.m. May 19 at the church. The Unleashed Concert featuring Zarissa Watkins begins at 7 p.m. May 20 at the church. The church is at 296 Spanish Wells Road, Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-689-3625,

Unity Church of Hilton Head Island

The Rev. Julia Johnson, senior minister, will speak on the "Dark Night of the Soul" at 10 a.m. May 20. Child care will be provided. Following the service, a potluck will be held. Johnson's class "Connecting to the Church" begins at noon. This class is needed for church membership and its prerequisite is "The Unity Church and You." The church meets at the Seaquin's Ballroom (the Fred Astaire Dance Studio), 1300 Fording Island Road, Bluffton. Child care will be provided.

Details: 843-682-8177,

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort

The Rev. Nan White concludes her series of sermons concerning the Seven Principles with focus on the first principle -- the inherent worth and dignity of every person -- at 10 a.m. May 20. Her sermon title is "Everyone Has Dignity and Worth." The fellowship meets at 178 Sams Point Road, Lady's Island.Details: 843-838-1399

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry

The Rev. Manuel Holland will give his sermon "On Being Both Religious and Spiritual" at 10 a.m. May 20. The church is at 110 Malphrus Road, Bluffton.

Details: 843-837-3330

Christian Science Society of Beaufort

The Christian Science Society, Beaufort joins with the Hilton Head and Savannah Christian Science churches to sponsor a weekly radio broadcast on WLOW 107.9 FM at 8:30 a.m. Sundays.

"Soul and Body" is the bible lesson sermon at 10:30 a.m. May 20. The society meets at 401 Scott St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-441-2262

First Presbyterian Church, Beaufort

The church continues its 100th anniversary celebration with a special 11 a.m. service and luncheon May 20. Dr. Patrick Perryman will preach "For All the Believers Who Will Follow" from John 15:9-17. The church is at Church and North streets, Beaufort.

Details: 843-524-3051

Allen AME Church

The Women's Day program is at 4 p.m. May 20. Glenda Smalls, pastor of Deliverance Prayer Tower of Savannah, will speak. The church is at 16 Shelter Church Road, Beaufort.

Details: 843-263-4442

Pine Grove Baptist Church

Men's Day service celebration is at 4 p.m. May 20. Leroy Haynes will speak, and the Nazareth Baptist Church Family are guests. The church is at 73 Pine Grove Road, Burton.

Details: 843-846-4456

Lunch Hour of Power

The Rev. Joe Simmons, associate minister of the Faith Memorial Baptist Church, will speak noon-12:45 p.m. May 23 at the Lunch Hour of Power, in Helen Galloway's Memorial Chapel, 808 Bladen St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-524-6634

Highest Praise Ministries

The second annual Lady's Night is at 7:30 p.m. May 25. Tammy Alexander of Glory and Dominion Ministries, Raleigh, will speak. The church is at 66 Middle Road, Lady's Island.

Details: 843-838-9177

Shell Point Baptist Church

Free, warm meals and conversation are 6-7 p.m. Fridays at 871 Parris Island Gateway, Beaufort. The Refining Christian Maturity Recovery meeting will be at 7 p.m. A food pantry also is available.

Details: 843-575-2200,

Edisto Presbyterian Church

After 50 years, the Rev. Dr. McKinley Washington Jr. is retiring as pastor from the church. A banquet will be at 7:30 p.m. May 25 at Baptist Hill High School Gym; Congressman Jim Clyburn will speak. Tickets are $25 a person. Details: 843-869-2589, 843-869-2300

Family and Fun Day is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 26 at the Community Center, Edisto Island. A retirement program, "The Omni," is at 3 p.m. May 27 at the church. The Rev. Dr. James Herbert Nelson, director at Presbyterian Church USA, Washington, D.C., will speak. Nelson was a former commissioner of the S.C. Employment Security Commission, former S.C. state senator, former representative in the State House of Representatives and a former chairman of the Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Corporation's board of directors.

First Baptist Church, Hilton Head Island

Jimmy Blackwood and The Blackwood Brothers Quartet will provide music for the 9 a.m. worship service and give a concert at 11:15 a.m. May 27 in the sanctuary. Admission is free. The church is at 100 South Forest Beach Drive, Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-785-4478,

Lowcountry Community Church

A silent auction to support the Youth Ministry's Summer Mission trip to Belize/Guatemala is at 6 p.m. June 3 at the church. Free coffee and dessert will be served. The church is at 801 Buckwalter Parkway, Bluffton.

Details or to donate items: 843-836-1105,

The Church of the Cross, Bluffton

An eight-week summer Bible study through the Book of Acts is at 10 a.m. Fridays beginning June 1 in the Parish Hall of the Calhoun Street campus, 110 Calhoun St., Old Town Bluffton. Ted Favata will lead the study open to men and women.

Details: 843-757-2661,

Interfaith Friends

Interfaith Friends, an ecumenical social group for widows or widowers, meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the All Saints Episcopal Church, 3001 Meeting St., Hilton Head Island. The next meeting is June 21.

Details: 843-301-1086, 843-342-6761