York Town Square

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In York, Pa., it was a musical night in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Chris Bacas takes his turn in the  ‘duel’ with Tim Warfield in performing Duke Ellington’s/John Coltrane’s ‘C. Jam Blues/Mr. P.C.’ at the 14th Annual Jazz Vespers on Saturday. The two widely known and respected musicians met in their hometowns for this face off. The packed event at York’s First Presbyterian Church commemorated the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Also of interest: A post on last year’s vespers honoring Dr. King.

Every year, First Presbyterian holds Jazz Vespers honoring MLK Jr. And every year, the musical moment that brings people to their feet without fail is a duel of sorts between saxophonists Tim Warfield and Chris Bacas.

The pair face off in a friendly quest for who can reach the highest note or say the most profound jazz prayer or both.

But that’s not the only piece of the event that is memorable:

1. The mixed race audience is on the receiving end of a jazz concert by a mixed race band, still unusual enough in York County churches to note. Jeff Stabley led the group, that accompanied a black choir, the Bible Tabernacle Voices for Christ. Whatever happened the next morning – reportedly the most segregated time in America – this annual service at First Pres is a time of coming together.

2. This event kicked off a year-long series commemorating the 250th anniversary of First Presbyterian Church. (See schedule below.) The church reports that Presbyterians worshipped in homes in York as early at 1755, and the first church went up seven years later. The current Civil War-era building is the second built on this site.

3. The biography in the vespers’ program for band member Steve Meashey is unforgettable: “Words are pointless filled with half truth, as are bios. Just listen with your heart, mind and soul. It doesn’t matter where I’ve played or what and with whom I’ve played.”

“Set aside all opinions and just listen.”

Well, here’s one opinion that we won’t set aside: Dr. King’s memory was superbly honored at First Pres.

Also of interest

‘York, Pa., accepted what Washington, D.C., rejected’


First Prebyterian Church’s
250th anniversary
special events schedule

Jan 7, 2012: Abendmusik: Jazz Vespers

Feb 2, 3, 4, 2012: St. Valentine’s Feaste

Feb 5, 2012: Annual Congregational Meeting

Feb 26, 2012: The Rev. John Galloway

Mar 11, 2012: Abendmusik: College of Wooster Tartan Band

Apr 8, 2012: Easter

Apr 22, 2012: Abendmusik: York Honors Choir

May 13, 2012: Dr. Blair Monie

May 13, 2012: York Street Fair/Mother’s Day

May 19, 2012: Abendmusik: Organ Plus – Rob Frazier

Jun ?, 2012: FPC Picnic

Jun 10, 2012: Mission Sunday: The Faders

Jun 24, 2012: Dr. Jey Deiffel

Jul 4, 2012: Program at James Smith’s gravesite with DAR

Jul 29, 2012: Dr. Bob Hoover

Aug 5, 2012: Dr. Bob Hoover

Sep 30, 2012: Abendmusik: PresbyBop

Sep 16, 2012: Dr. Fred Webb

Sep 25, 2012: Donegal Presbytery Meeting at FPC

Sep 30, 2012: Dr. Ian Torrence: President, Princeton Theological                                                                       Seminary

Oct 12, 2012: Abendmusik: Eric Plutz, Organist, Princeton University

Oct 21, 2012: Homecoming

Nov 4, 2012: The Rev. Tom Sweet

Nov 9, 2012: Abendmusik: Rachmaninov Trio plus Flute

Dec 9, 2012: FPC Choir Christmas Cantata

Dec 24, 2012: Christmas Eve


*Photo courtesy of Charles Bacas