Spirit Safari ’14 notes, Wednesday

During our gathering in the morning, we took some time to learn about Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance.  Each youth had an opportunity to look up information on Billie Holiday, Malcom X, Doug E. Fresh, Striver’s Row, The Apollo Theater, and Madame C.J. Walker.  After a quick lunch, we took the A train to Operation Exodus in Washington Heights.  Operation Exodus is an organization that strives to empower children and youth through educational and evangelistic programming.  We learned from Matt about their program and took a tour of their facility.  It was obvious that Matt and his staff were passionate about caring for the people in their neighborhood, most of whom were from the Dominican Republic.

Then, we took a long walking tour of Harlem.  We passed the Harlem walk of fame, the Apollo theater, and Striver’s Row.  We stopped in the park for rest and play time- the youth made quick friends with a three year old while the adults rested.  Then, we headed to dinner at Melba’s– delicious!  After Melba’s, we walked to Riverside Church where we attended their “Space for Grace” creative worship service.  The service included praise songs, spirituals, liturgical dance, communal prayer, preaching, offering, and a final hands-held-in-a-circle sung benediction.  The message I received was:  God, provides you with a new identity, a new name.  Whatever your social location may be, you can be transformed and renewed into sacred location.

Our last stop for the night was to Graham and Amanda Ashcraft’s house.  Amanda is a friend from BTSR and Graham lived in Charlotte for a short while.  It was good to visit with them.  These two are superheroes!  They have baby twin boys and they work full time jobs and they somehow managed to host our entire youth group in their Manhattan apartment for ice cream!  We’re excited to be able to attend the twins’ baby dedication on Sunday at Metro.