HipHopEMass, the syncopated lively ministry born on the streets of the Bronx, New York, has not skipped a beat since moving to the shores of New Jersey's Atlantic City. In fact it has added a music school.
"This is both a progression, and beginning," said the Rev. Timothy "Poppa T" Holder, rector of the historic Church of the Ascension in Atlantic City, New Jersey and founder of HipHopEMass.
Ascension's HipHopEMass Music School, the brainchild of Theresa Gregory, a New Jersey rapper known as Reese, will run August 13-19 at the church located at 30 South Kentucky at Pacific Avenue. Gregory, an Episcopalian, is a senior at Rider College studying marketing and advertising. Holder said "she led a powerful spoken word reading of Isaiah 43: 16-21" at his installation celebration on May 17. Gregory will serve as director of the week-long school.
According to Holder, the goal of the music school is to welcome fifty 7-14 year-olds into the church and immerse them in hip hop and church culture. The five-day educational program will be based on the roots of hip hop: African drumbeat, slave spirituals, American Gospel, blues and jazz. Participants will be taught in the tradition and through the means of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, rap, dance and hip hop style and spirit. They will learn through stories from the Holy Bible and everyday experiences. Worship will be from the "Hip Hop Prayer Book" and the Episcopal Church's "Book of Common Prayer." The week will culminate with the participants leading worship for their families and other parish congregants.
"The roots of HipHopEMass are the children and young people across America and now the world," said Holder. "We celebrate and follow Jesus' teaching in Mark 10:14-15, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs..."
Holder said that thanks to the generosity of Tito Maisonette, "Father of Hip Hop in Atlantic City," each graduate of the music school will receive a pair of Nike sneakers. The community and Ascension will also provide them with a haircut and t-shirt.
For more information about "Ascension's HipHopEMass Music School" call Gregory at 609-344-0615 or e-mail AscensionAtlanticCity@yahoo.com.
Registration is July 1-15 at Ascension and at "Tito's Hip Hop World" on Atlantic Avenue 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays.