On Dec. 2, a Christmas musical program celebrating the birth of Christ will be shared with second through fifth grade students of Benton Harbor elementary schools at the Howard Performing Arts Center (HPAC). According to Carlisle Orville Sutton (second year, Master of Divinity and Master of Community International Development), the Christmas program will feature performances by two choirs—Journey and Deliverance Mass Choir—as well as a skit by L.I.F.E. Ministries.
Sutton said, “It will be a full musical production. There will be acting and music, of course, as individuals in costumes retelling the story of the birth of Christ. We aim to educate the children on the importance of education and making right choices.”
600 to 700 hundred Benton Harbor students are expected to be in attendance of the event.
Sutton stated that with help from Vice President of University Advancement David Faehner and sponsorship by the HPAC, the program will be brought to these students at no cost.
Sutton added that “Tracy Ryan (Executive Assistant to the Provost) has played a critical role in seeking out donations and contacting various Andrews University departments and faculty for us to be able to provide each attending student with a gift bag.”
Sutton noted that the School of Distance Education, Department of Biology and Department of Archeology have already come forward with donations.
Although Dec. 2 is Andrews University’s Dead Friday—a day set aside by university administration to allow students the opportunity to study for upcoming final exams the next week—members of DMC, Journey, Life Ministries, and H.E.L.P (Human Empowerment Life Project) and others intend to volunteer their time to serve to Benton Harbor students.
Olivia King, Director of DMC, said, “It’s a blessing and a privilege to participate in a program for kids who struggle on a day to day basis and allow them to see that no matter what people say, that they can make it through anything with the help of God.”
Natahlia Carr (senior, social work), a tenor section leader for DMC, added, “This is important because it allows kids to have a positive image of young people worshipping God rather than what they might see through media or in other places. It will also expose them to, and even allow them to appreciate, different styles of music.”
Sutton hopes that the Christmas program will provide an opportunity for various student groups and departments at Andrews University to make an impact on local community students.
Sutton said, “Overall, we are trying to expose these children to the value of higher education. By exposing them to a different social setting, different genres of music, and different forms of entertainment, we hope to help them see the world through different eyes.”