Date: November 18, 2011
On October 7 and 8, 2011, New Life Fellowship held a celebration of the 20th anniversary of their founding. New Life members from all over the country came to hear and participate in reunion concerts of Silent Praise and Deliverance Mass Choir, and meet the founders of New Life Fellowship. Begun in 1991 to serve the worship needs of a diverse student body, New Life Fellowship was the culmination of three years of research and prayer.
Twenty years ago, students indicated that they wished for a church service that would utilize their talents through active participation in the program, and would also provide for freedom of spiritual expression. Newton Hoilette, then vice president of Student Services; Walter Douglas, Doug Kilcher, Norman Miles and James North, Seminary faculty; and David Rand from the Office of Campus Ministries, comprised the initial Black Worship Committee. This committee founded the multiethnic New Life Fellowship with help from student and cultural organizations throughout campus. They elected James North as senior pastor and Kenneth Mulzac as pulpit pastor. New Life held their first service on Oct. 5, 1991, in a packed Seminary Chapel.
The anniversary celebration began with a Silent Praise reunion concert on Friday evening. More than 820 worshipers packed into the Howard Performing Arts Center for the weekend’s events, many of who had flown in to participate in the concert or reunite with old friends. Patrick Graham gave the sermon during Saturday’s Divine Service. Later that afternoon participants had an opportunity to speak with the founders and current leaders of New Life: James North, David Rand and Newton Hoilette, and pastors Clifford Jones and Timothy Nixon. The weekend concluded with a Deliverance Mass Choir concert that included past and present members and directors. Deliverance Mass Choir, begun in 1995, is a 120-voice choir currently under the direction of Adrian and Leilani Langdon. At the close of the concert, director Langdon made a spontaneous appeal for anyone who wanted to give their lives to God. Nearly 20 people came to the front, “which showed us what an impact that weekend had,” said Louise Albert.
Before the weekend was over, participants began to ask if the reunion would become a regular event. “God was praised and lives were changed,” said Timothy Nixon, lead pastor of New Life, of the weekend. Claudia Allen, an Andrews student and president of the Black Student Christian Forum, said the reunion was “the best practice for eternity.” Albert, one of the student coordinators of the event, said, “Our goal was to pause and say thank you. God has been with us for 20 years, and it would be ungrateful if we didn’t pause and look back at what He has done.”