ASBURY MEMORIAL CHURCH TO RECOGNIZE LENTEN SEASON WITH VIRTUAL ASH WEDNESDAY AND WEEKLY TAIZÉ SERVICES

ASBURY MEMORIAL CHURCH TO RECOGNIZE LENTEN SEASON WITH VIRTUAL ASH WEDNESDAY AND WEEKLY TAIZÉ SERVICES

SAVANNAH, GA – February 15, 2021 – Asbury Memorial Church has announced its plans to observe the 2021 season of Lent with virtual Taizé services at 7 p.m. every Wednesday through March 24. These special virtual worship services will begin on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. Participants will focus on silence, breathing, healing, prayer and reflection. These 20- to 25-minute services, featuring soulful, musical chants and soothing visuals, can be viewed online by visiting www.asburymemorial.org.

“Taizé is a type of worship which enables you to clear your mind and really listen to the Holy Spirit,” said Asbury Memorial Church Reverend Billy Hester. “Anyone is welcome to join these peaceful and empowering services, and we look forward to virtually sharing this experience with everyone interested in participating.”

Asbury Memorial is a Christ-centered, forward-thinking, all-inclusive congregation that celebrates the joy of God creatively and is committed to remaining a welcoming and affirming congregation for all. For more information about Asbury Memorial Church, please visit www.asburymemorial.org.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com, Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com, or the team at 912-417-LFPR(5377).

THE TWO HUNDRED CLUB TO HONOR SAVANNAH-AREA FIRST RESPONDERS WITH 2021 VALOR AWARDS

THE TWO HUNDRED CLUB TO HONOR SAVANNAH-AREA FIRST RESPONDERS WITH 2021 VALOR AWARDS

SAVANNAH, GA – FEBRUARY 1, 2021 – A couple of Savannah’s exceptional first responders will be honored Thursday, April 15, 2021, by the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire. While one is a police officer and the other is a paramedic, they both heroically risked their lives and safety with no reluctance to save citizens in imminent danger.

During the annual Tak Argentinis Valor Awards ceremony at the Charles H. Morris Center in downtown Savannah, the club and its supporters will recognize Officer Raymond Purnell of the Savannah Police Department and Paramedic Mindy Cauley of Chatham Emergency Services.

Purnell’s gallant actions saved many innocent bystanders and put his own life in jeopardy. As a dangerous situation escalated, he jumped into action and literally ran toward flames to detain a suicidal shoplifting subject and bring an end to a conflict that posed a risk to several onlookers. Paramedic Mindy Cauley’s selection for her act of heroism stems from the night she talked a suicidal man out of jumping off the Thunderbolt Bridge while driving home from work. She went above and beyond the call of duty, placing herself in grave danger and saving the man’s life.

The honorees were selected for the awards by a committee of law enforcement and fire command officers, according to Club President Mark Dana. Nominations were received from the 20 counties that comprise the Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire’s support and service area. The award recipients each will receive a plaque and a medal of valor.

“The 200 Club’s main mission is to support first responders and their families in case of death or critical injuries in the line of duty. Everything we do as an organization is to serve these local heroes who make sacrifices to keep our community safe,” Dana said. “That is why we must recognize first responders who display great acts of valor in the face of danger and put others’ safety before themselves. We hope this award is a symbol of our sincere appreciation for these brave individuals’ service.”

The club is a nonprofit, independent organization that relies on its members’ annual dues and donations as well as fundraising events to provide donations to the families of fallen and injured first responders. 

Tickets to the Valor Awards are $25 and include entry to the awards ceremony and heavy appetizers. A link to purchase tickets will soon be posted on the club’s website, www.twohundredclub.org. For more information, please call 912-721-4418 or email info@twohundredclub.org.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651 or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

BRYAN COUNTY HIRES ATLANTIC WASTE SERVICES TO REPLACE REPUBLIC AS SANITATION PROVIDER

BRYAN COUNTY HIRES ATLANTIC WASTE SERVICES TO REPLACE REPUBLIC AS SANITATION PROVIDER

BRYAN COUNTY, GA – FEBRUARY 8, 2021 – Bryan County has hired Atlantic Waste Services, Inc., to replace Republic as the sanitation provider in unincorporated areas of the county. The move will mean a new service provider, delivery of new polycarts, regular garbage and recycling pick-ups, new trucks owned and operated by a local company doing the collecting, and no cost increase to customers.

Bryan County put the contract out for bid and accepted proposals earlier this year to avoid an increase in cost. The unexpected savings generated by awarding the contract to a new provider not only avoided an increase but netted $380,000 in annual savings. This very well could lead to a slight decrease in residents’ annual solid waste fees in the future, as opposed to the anticipated increase if the county had continued with the same provider. In addition, the company already serves the cities of Richmond Hill and Pembroke.  

The county commission has approved the agreement for Atlantic to begin sanitation services beginning March 1. To prepare for the implementation of services, Atlantic will begin delivering polycarts to residents on Feb. 8. Attached to each polycart will be a schedule detailing trash and recycling pick-up days so residents will know exactly when to set out their bins. Trash and recycling will be collected on the same day, so resident will only need to put their polycarts on the curb once per week.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and half of Thursday will be dedicated to routes in the south end of the county. Half of Thursday and Friday will be dedicated to north-end routes. Each resident will receive one green-lidded garbage cart and one yellow-lidded recycle cart. Extra carts can be purchased for $120, billed in advance annually, by calling 912-964-2000 or emailing info@atlanticwaste.com.

In their green-lidded garbage polycarts, residents may place “landfill-only waste,” including non-hazardous household and commercial refuse such as food scraps, glass bottles, and non-recyclable plastics. Construction and demolition waste, paint, tires, medical waste greater than 2 pounds per week, and hazardous waste materials (such as radioactive waste, extremely acidic or basic chemicals, containers containing 5 or more gallons of liquid) are not permitted.

Recyclables placed in the yellow-lidded carts must be loose and unbagged. They will be picked up every other week, as noted on the schedules that will come with residents’ polycarts. Acceptable items include Plastics #1-7, paper, cardboard, metal cans, aluminum cans, clean pizza boxes and aseptic packaging. Items that are not permissible include glass, plastic wrap, aerosol cans, aluminum foil, Styrofoam, wax bottles, food waste, food-tainted items, ceramic kitchenware, plastic toys or sporting goods, wood, packing peanuts and bubble wrap, hazardous chemicals and containers, and yard clippings.

Atlantic Vice President Ben Wall said that his company’s website will include a special link just for Bryan County residents, which they can click on to find their route maps and schedules at any time. The site and social media will also be used to communicate any changes in service or schedule alterations, should bad weather or unexpected circumstances arise.

In addition, the transition to a new service provider will mean lower rates at the county’s convenience centers. It currently costs 25 cents per pound to dispose of bulk waste at the centers, but that rate will decrease to 10 cents per pound under Atlantic’s operation. Bulk waste may still be dropped off at the 144 Spur location (South Bryan) or the Mill Creek location (North Bryan). Those who would like bulk items picked up at their homes should call Atlantic’s offices. The cost will depend on the size, weight, and amount. The current rate for garbage and recycling pickups will not change and, eventually, residents may expect to see a cost savings.

Wall said he’s eager to provide quality service to all the citizens of Bryan County. Atlantic already serves Richmond Hill and Pembroke.

“My family has been lifelong property owners in Bryan County and, as a company, we are really looking forward to the opportunity to serve all the customers and citizens in the area,” Wall said. “We’re a locally owned company, so the money that residents spend with us is staying right here in the community, which we greatly care about.”

Malorie Boyd, Atlantic’s residential operations manager, stressed the importance of residents remembering to set out their polycarts the night before they’re scheduled for pick-up.

“Some routes start very early, so if your home is at the beginning of a route, then you might get picked up very early in the morning, around 6 a.m. So make sure you bring everything to the curb the evening before,” Boyd said.

For more regular information about Bryan County, please visit www.bryancountyga.org or follow the county on its social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information on Atlantic Waste Services, please visit atlanticwaste.com.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or
912-272-8651 or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950.

HSF RECEIVES HISTORIC TRUST GRANT TO CREATE A VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE ENGAGING YOUTH IN THE LIVES OF ENSLAVED HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS AT DAVENPORT HOUSE MUSEUM

HSF RECEIVES HISTORIC TRUST GRANT TO CREATE A VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE ENGAGING YOUTH IN THE LIVES OF ENSLAVED HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS AT DAVENPORT HOUSE MUSEUM

SAVANNAH, GA – FEBRUARY 8, 2021 – Recently Historic Savannah Foundation received a $5,000 matching grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create, for the Davenport House Museum (DHM), a youth guide engaging middle-school aged students in the lives of those enslaved in the Davenport household in the 1820s.

“The exciting thing about this project is once done, young people all over the world – as well as in our community – will be able to access virtually our uniquely Savannah story in ways customized for their age group,” said HSF CEO and President Sue Adler. HSF is partnering with the Nobis Project, a nonprofit educational resource organization specializing in community engagement experiences, particularly regarding authentic narratives of African American history and Gullah Geechee culture, to create a dynamic tool to bring the past to life.

The Davenport House, HSF’s only historic house museum, tells the story of early 19th century daily life in the port city of Savannah to thousands of visitors annually. Over the years, through scholarly research, the Museum has broadened the story it tells to include all 23 members of the Davenport household, including the thirteen enslaved workers owned by Davenport. “We tell our story with humanity and inclusion, but we are limited by physical space. We want to open our narrative to the world to provide understanding about what happened here. This virtual youth guide is a tool for doing this. We are pleased to expose virtual visitors to our stories,” continues Adler.

HSF called on experts with Nobis Project, Dr. Christen Higgins Clougherty, Founder and Executive Director, and Heather DuCloux, Program Coordinator, to lead the initiative. They came up with the idea of creating “journeys” where students venture through the lives of household members as they explore the house virtually. Each “journeys” will be developed using the groundbreaking research undertaken by scholar Kelly Westfield, who did extensive reverse deed work on the lives of enslaved members of the household.

Westfield used information known to the Davenport House Museum, such as ads for the sale of enslaved workers, as the basis for delving deeper into the records to trace their lives back through their chain of sale. In doing this, she found a wealth of information, including names of parents and siblings, mobility through sale, and in a couple of cases final resting places. Having Nobis specialists’ pair down the research and put it into a form that will intrigue students is a goal of the project.

The intention of the DHM’s youth guide program is to provide younger guests and the community with a more accurate depiction of the Davenport family household, as well as the lives of enslaved people in a 19th century Southern port city. The legacy of the enslaved people – not only in the Davenport House, but also throughout Savannah – is critically important to the history of the city. It is because of enslaved people that much of the city exists as it does, from buildings and trades to traditions and experiences. It is also important to acknowledge that much of what is enjoyed today by visitors and residents alike was built on the backs of this enslaved population, which is often excluded from or vaguely mentioned in the story.

Historic Savannah Foundation, a leading nonprofit preservation and cultural institution, believes the creation of an age-appropriate guided program to properly tell the story will strengthen connections with both the local youth community and visitors, as well as promote healing in what has become an exacerbated society. “We admire Historic Savannah Foundation’s intention to be a part of a healing process, illustrating that the contributions and legacy of enslaved Africans is important for all to better understand and taking an active role to promote the authentic – yet difficult – story of enslavement in the United States,” Clougherty said.

The components created by the Nobis Project for children ages 8-15 will be interactive for both visitors to the Museum as well as online. The work will dovetail with HSF’s facilities expansion at the Davenport House and will culminate with the opening of an Urban Enslaved Exhibit, currently under construction. Visitors’ “journeys” will focus on the new exhibition.

“We are honored and grateful to receive this matching grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to pursue such an innovative, worthwhile initiative. The Nobis Project is inspirational, and we cannot wait to see the final program they complete. It is such a relevant undertaking and will work perfectly with the new Urban Enslaved Exhibit we are creating as part of the Kennedy Pharmacy expansion. This really gives it another essential element and will make the experience so multi-faceted,” concludes Adler.

Historic Savannah Foundation, a leading nonprofit preservation and cultural institution, saves buildings, places, and stories that define Savannah’s past, present, and future. Following its formation in 1955, the organization started a Revolving Fund to save endangered historic properties, now totaling nearly 410 buildings throughout several of Savannah’s historic districts. HSF continues to build capacity within its operations, secure new financial resources, improve its image and visibility, and increase public policy efforts to protect Savannah’s historic districts.

 

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at 229-393-6457 or email kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651, Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

SPIRIT OF PEACE TO HOLD DRIVE-UP ASH WEDNESDAY OBSERVANCE, VIRTUAL SERVICE

SPIRIT OF PEACE TO HOLD DRIVE-UP ASH WEDNESDAY OBSERVANCE, VIRTUAL SERVICE

RICHMOND HILL, GA – February 8, 2021 – Wednesday, Feb. 17 is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period when churches of various denominations ask their members to re-dedicate themselves to prayer, giving alms, making sacrifices, reading Scripture, and fasting. The observance is an opportunity for the faithful to sharpen their senses and focus their minds and hearts on the reign of God. The Lenten season ends on Easter Sunday, which falls on April 4.

In Bryan County, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church is handling its Ash Wednesday service a bit differently this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The church will host a drive-up Ash Wednesday ritual from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17. Participants can pull their vehicles up to the church, located at 15985 GA-144 in Richmond Hill, where they’ll be asked to form a socially distanced line beneath a pop-up tent to receive the rite of ashes before returning to their cars. Afterward, everyone is encouraged to log on at 7 p.m. for a virtual church service via Zoom.

Pastor Devin Strong and other event organizers from the church expect the distribution of ashes will be orderly, quick and convenient for the church’s congregants. However, above all else, the pastor sees it as a way to keep his members safe as COVID cases in the area continue to rise.

“We are excited to have come up with a non-traditional way to observe a traditional holy day of obligation. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a very important time for the church – one of repentance, reflection and renewal when we remember Jesus’s suffering and sacrifice. Commemorating the occasion gives us an opportunity to pray together for all those who suffer as we look toward the joyous occasion of Easter,” Strong said.

For more information on Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church, please visit www.spiritofpeacelutheran.org.

Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church’s mission is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through ministry, promoting a lifestyle of worship and loving service through word and prayer so that all of God’s children will know Christ’s transforming joy.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651, Crystal Vogel at crystal@lesleyfrancispr.com at 912-509-1510 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

BRYAN COUNTY FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES ADDS HELICOPTER LANDING SITE BY STATION 1

BRYAN COUNTY FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES ADDS HELICOPTER LANDING SITE BY STATION 1

BRYAN COUNTY, GA – FEBRUARY 4, 2021 – Bryan County Fire and Emergency Services now has a permanent helicopter landing area next to BCFES Station 1 on Highway 144 in South Bryan County. The zone is marked by four red and green lights and a windsock that identifies it as a landing area for helicopters. Thanks to the windsock donation from LifeStar Georgia Air Ambulance and the new setup, the area is compliant with Federal Aviation Administration helicopter landing zone requirements.

For several weeks now, a helicopter has been landing and taking off in the newly marked-off launch site. BCFES also teamed up with LifeStar, which is based in Springfield, Georgia, to hold an in-house landing zone and aircraft familiarization class. LifeStar provided the instructors and flew in their helicopter so class participants could become familiar with the aircraft. It also provided LifeStar with an opportunity try out the new landing area.

“We’re very grateful to be able to add a helicopter landing site for emergency medical flights right next to the new Station 1, BCFES Chief Freddy Howell said. “This will allow emergency medical flights to decrease transport time when taking critical trauma patients to hospitals. It’s definitely an effective option to have.”

For more information about Bryan County Emergency Services, please visit www.bryancountyga.org/government/departments-a-g/emergency-services or follow the agency on Facebook: @BryanCountyEmergencyServices.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651, Lesley Francis at lesley@francis.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

SAVANNAH AFRICAN ART MUSEUM UNVEILS ONLINE WORKSHOPS TO SUPPORT SAVANNAH’S BLACK HERITAGE FESTIVAL

SAVANNAH AFRICAN ART MUSEUM UNVEILS ONLINE WORKSHOPS TO SUPPORT SAVANNAH’S BLACK HERITAGE FESTIVAL

SAVANNAH, GA – February 4, 2021 – In honor of Savannah’s 32nd annual Black Heritage Festival this February, Savannah African Art Museum (SAAM) will participate by hosting two online workshops that focus on tracing lineage and honoring ancestors.

This year’s Virtual Black Heritage Festival theme is ‘Reflect, Reform, Rejoice’. These three words represent the history of African Americans as they marched from enslavement to freedom to contributors and the festival’s aim is to present activities that attract a broad cross-section of age, socio-economic and ethnically diverse residents. SAAM invites guests to join the “Honoring your Ancestors” virtual workshop starting the week of Feb. 13. During this workshop, participants will discover how a few cultures around the world honor their ancestors and explore featured art from SAAM’s collection exhibiting how some African cultures honor their ancestors. Participants will then learn about the “Rest with Honor” initiative and how they can support this cause by signing a petition. The “Rest with Honor” initiative was started by Lori Lyons, a New York journalist who discovered that two Savannah squares – Calhoun and Whitfield – are constructed on top of African burial grounds. Lyons is not requesting for the excavation of the graves but is campaigning to have Calhoun and Whitfield’s names replaced as they were both strong advocates for slavery, and to have a marker placed on the squares declaring them African burial grounds.

The “Tracing your Roots” online workshop, beginning the week of Feb. 27, is back by popular demand after amazing feedback from last year’s in-person workshop before the pandemic. In this workshop, participants will be given free resources and tips on where to begin researching their heritage as well as what public records are available to them. SAAM will provide free links and documents to participants to help organize their findings. Savannah locals who participate in the workshop will also receive additional information about non-circulating material on genealogy and local history available at the Kaye Kole Genealogy Room, at the Bull Street Library.

“These free online workshops are here for the public to discover their lineage as well as support a cause which honors the memory of our ancestors here in Savannah. Because February celebrates Black History Month nationally and our city’s Annual Black Heritage Festival, we believe that these workshops are highly relevant and meaningful,” SAAM Education Coordinator Lisa Jackson said. “We proudly support the Rest with Honor Initiative and are happy to incorporate this into our February workshops.”  

Negro History Week was established in February 1926 by historian, author, educator and journalist, Carter G. Woodson and in 1976 – the U.S. Bi-Centennial year, the month of February was officially designated Black History Month.

To participate in these workshops, please visit https://www.savannahafricanartmuseum.org/learn-1. To learn more about the museum, upcoming workshops, and the museum’s newest collections, please visit www.savannahafricanartmuseum.org and follow SAAM on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @SavannahAfricanArtMuseum.

The first Savannah Black Heritage Festival took place in August 1988 under the guidance of the late Westley W. Law and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History with support and funding from the City of Savannah. For more information visit savannahblackheritagefestival.org

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, Kristyn Fielding at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or 229-393-6457, or Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651.

THE SALVATION ARMY OF SAVANNAH SURPASSED GOAL FOR THEIR 2020 RED KETTLE CAMPAIGN

THE SALVATION ARMY OF SAVANNAH SURPASSED GOAL FOR THEIR 2020 RED KETTLE CAMPAIGN

SAVANNAH, GA – February 3, 2021 – Today, The Salvation Army of Savannah (TSA) announces they surpassed their ambitious Red Kettle Campaign fundraising goal of $300,000 by $25,000 for a total of $324,871.20. Even though they had less employees and volunteers to bell ring and half the amount of red kettles than the previous year because of COVID-19 concerns, the nonprofit organization was able to raise these funds through their virtual and physical kettles and the matching grant from an anonymous donor who offered to match every dollar given to the iconic red kettles up to $150,000.

The funds from the holiday season’s Red Kettle Campaign go towards TSA’s many programs that provide food, lodging, and emergency assistance as well as supporting local children, seniors, homeless individuals and families, and those needing spiritual and emotional care. Donations raised from this campaign allows TSA to provide desperately needed food and lodging to people in need in our region year-round. With COVID-19 rates continuing to rise, more people are turning to TSA for help as the economic impact of the pandemic affects them. Meeting the goal will allow TSA to continue providing relief to those most in need in our community.

This year, due to the closing of retail stores and the decline in foot traffic, TSA had a limited amount of time this year to ring kettles. There were only 26 active kettles throughout Savannah and about 15 of them on average were active daily compared to 46 in the previous year.

“We are blown away by the support we have received this year. Our organization was prepared to see a decrease in funds raised through the red kettles, which would have limited our capability to provide services for the most vulnerable,” said The Salvation Army of Savannah’s Major Paul Egan. “That is why we are immensely grateful to our anonymous donor who recognized our need and provided us with the opportunity to double the amount we raised. We could not have done this without all of the community members who donated to our biggest fundraiser of the year whether online or in-person, and all of those who volunteered and shared our virtual kettle with their friends and families. We look forward to continuing our mission this year of ‘Doing The Most Good’ for those in our region.”

The Salvation Army has served greater Savannah for the past 120 years and has always supported the most vulnerable in our community. Whether the community is affected by COVID-19, hurricanes, floods, fires or the Spanish influenza that impacted the world over a century ago, The Salvation Army continues to serve those who need it the most.

For more information about TSA, please visit www.salvationarmygeorgia.org/savannah/ or call 912-200-3004.

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For media inquiries and interviews, please contact Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, Kristyn Fielding at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or 229-393-6457, or Crystal Vogel at crystal@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-509-1510.

 About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood

ASBURY MEMORIAL CHURCH HOSTS VIRTUAL MARRIAGE VOW RENEWAL CEREMONY THIS VALENTINE’S DAY

ASBURY MEMORIAL CHURCH HOSTS VIRTUAL MARRIAGE VOW RENEWAL CEREMONY THIS VALENTINE’S DAY

SAVANNAH, GA – FEBRUARY 2, 2021 – Asbury Memorial Church is determined to maintain its annual Valentine’s Day tradition of a vow renewal ceremony even during the global pandemic. Instead of inviting married couples to gather in downtown Savannah’s City Market, the 2021 vow renewal ceremony will be held online. This ceremony, led by Asbury Memorial’s Rev. Billy Hester and his wife Cheri, has been an annual Valentine’s tradition for 25 years and has always been free of charge for any married couple, resident, or visitors to the city alike.

“Cheri and I have enjoyed hosting this ceremony for a quarter of a century and this year is even more significant as it will be the first Valentine’s day since Asbury Memorial announced its disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church in support of LGBTQ rights last year,” said Rev. Hester. “We have been able to continue worshipping virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic so decided to offer a Zoom invitation to any married couple – gay or straight – who would like to renew their vows with us online, free of charge of course. While we will miss meeting people in person at City Market, we are excited that our virtual platform allows people from all over the world to join us. We know that a married couple from Asbury Memorial who emigrated to Australia is going to join us online. It will be 11 a.m. on Monday in Sydney but they are taking the morning off work to participate.”

This virtual celebration will take place at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, Feb. 14.   

To join the Zoom Meeting utilize this link:
https://zoom.us/j/9126951170
Meeting ID: 912 695 1170
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,9126951170# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,9126951170# US (New York)

Rev. Hester and his wife Cheri moved to Savannah in 1991 and worked with the congregation to rebuild Asbury Memorial into a church committed to leading the way as a Christ-centered, forward-thinking, all-inclusive congregation that celebrates the joy of God creatively and is a welcoming and affirming congregation for all.

For more information about Asbury Memorial Church or the virtual vow renewal ceremony, please visit www.asburymemorial.org.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com, Lesley Francis at lesley@leasleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

VOICEXPERIENCE UNVEILS MILNES VOICE AWARD RECIPIENT AND ANNOUNCES VIRTUAL ANNUAL FUNDRAISING GALA – MARCH 25, 2021

VOICEXPERIENCE UNVEILS MILNES VOICE AWARD RECIPIENT AND ANNOUNCES VIRTUAL ANNUAL FUNDRAISING GALA – MARCH 25, 2021

SAVANNAH, GA – January 26, 2020 – Today, VOICExperience (VE) announces that the non-profit organization’s annual gala will take place via its web-based streaming service at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, March 25, 2021. This vital fundraiser will be hosted by legendary baritone and VOICE Co-Founder, Sherrill Milnes and will take place online to protect the health and safety of singers and patrons. The gala will be a night to remember with special guest appearances by opera notables Thomas Hampson, Mark Delavan, Denyce Graves, James Morris, Fabrizio Melano and Frederica von Stade. The gala will feature performances by VOICE Program alumni including Santiago Ballerini, Jessica Ann Best, Emily Yocum Black, Angela De Venuto, Mariano Gladic, Lauren Jelencovich, Peter Lake, Liz Lang, Paulo Lapa, Meechot Marrero, Tiago Matos, Chad Sonka, Jonathan Walker-VanKuren, Melanie Spector and Hanna Atsedewoin.

During the gala, renowned baritone, Thomas Hampson, will be presented with the prestigious 2021 Milnes VOICE Award. Thomas Hampson, America’s foremost baritone, hails from Spokane, Washington. He has received many honors and awards for his probing artistry and cultural leadership. He enjoys a singular international career as an opera singer, recording artist, and “ambassador of song,” maintaining an active interest in research, education, musical outreach, and technology. Comprising more than 150 albums, his discography includes winners of a Grammy Award, five Edison Awards, and the Grand Prix du Disque. Through the Hampsong Foundation which he founded in 2003 he employs the art of song to promote intercultural dialogue and understanding.

Supporters of a new goal to fund 1,000 hours of education at $100 per hour for emerging artists in 2021 will be sent a link to access the Gala which streams at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 25. For each $100 donated, lovers of the classical voice will help support one hour of training for a young artist and have access to a celebratory concert that celebrates the initiative. Additional levels of support such as on-demand event viewing after the show’s debut, exclusive access to future masterclasses and prominent sponsor recognition are also available. Further information about this goal and other sponsorship opportunities are available at www.VOICExperienceFoundation.org

Co-Founder and Executive Director of VE, Maria Zouves, said, “We are delighted that we will be able to celebrate Thomas Hampson as our 2021 Milnes VOICE awardee this March and that this wonderful gala will support our training programs this year. We know from over 20 years’ experience at VE that just one hour of training can change a young artist’s life. This Gala takes place every year in New York City, but during these times we can span the globe to create an international program for all to enjoy. The Milnes VOICE programs have completed several very successful ‘stay at home’ concerts and educational initiatives during 2020 and we are confident that we can deliver a high-quality event to our patrons in New York and beyond via our web-based streaming. In many ways we have embarked on a brave new world for us and our classical artists — building a virtual, eclectic content with performances that translate the VOICE concerts and experiences from stage to computer screen.”

VE and all the Milnes VOICE Programs continues to host all its programming online until it is safe for audiences and artists to return to live concerts. VE also plans for its annual Opera as Drama program to take place online from March 13-20, 2021. This prestigious program focuses on the interpretation of opera with leaders in the industry. Singers work with Sherrill Milnes and stage director Fabrizio Melano on scenes and arias, studying original texts and source material. Faculty and guest lecturers offer insight into the opera industry and assistance with career development.

To learn more about the gala, VOICExperience or the Milnes VOICE Programs or to support young artists, please visit www.VOICExperienceFoundation.org.

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the Lesley Francis Public Relations team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

Editor’s Notes

VOICExperience Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to pass on the traditions of great singing and develop new audiences for opera. Under the umbrella of The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs, VOICExperience continues its dedication to the quality, integrity and perpetuation of the vocal arts through life-changing intensives, performances, and community-enriching outreach events in New York, Georgia (with its sister organization, the Savannah VOICE Festival), Florida and Illinois. For more information, please visit www.VOICExperienceFoundation.org.