NIU Black Choir to hold benefit concert

By Gloria Carr

NIU’s Black Choir is pulling together to help raise money for the New Hope Baptist Church, DeKalb’s only African American congregation.

The choir will be performing Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. Although the concert is free, the choir is asking students and organizations to donate to the New Hope building fund.

The choir hopes to raise about $1,000 at this weekend’s concert.

Pastor Leroy Mitchell, director of Chance, Education Services and Programming at NIU, said New Hope, which was organized in 1987, will be purchasing ten acres on Twombly and Annie Glidden roads.

Mitchell said the church has received much support from NIU students. “Our prayers, hopes and desires are to build within three years. We have to raise a lot of money,” he said.

Black Choir President Paula Thomas said, “A lot of organizations throughout the year have tried to help. We’ve tried to pull together.”

Thomas said the New Hope’s appeal is the family atmosphere. “They’ve done a lot for students,” he said. “They’ve been like your second home. It’s like family.”

Mitchell said many African American students are accustomed to attending church regularly. However, he said they find DeKalb doesn’t offer the same type of atmosphere. Also, some students and residents often travel out of town to find the right church.

“We really need to be able to have a church where we live. Many of the white churches don’t meet our needs or style of prayer,” Mitchell said.

The Black Choir, which was formed in 1968, performs a variety of gospel music. “We try to do everything, some spiritual and modern (songs). We are trying to give everyone a taste of the culture of music of African Americans,” Thomas said.

The choir recently recorded an album called “Faith in Praise” with several different colleges, which will be released next year with the College Mass Choir, she said.

Thomas said the choir also participates in workshops and performs around campus for other organizations.

“We really appreciate the help,” Mitchell said. “Many see it as a major project for all African Americans. It is our way of saying we are here, we do exist. We can do it for ourselves.”