As the beautiful day continued throughout the evening, Union Baptist, a small but mighty church in Swissvale and its leaders and followers of Christ, held a Holy Hip-Hop Concert to stop the gun violence that has plagued Pittsburgh.

Urban Ministry and Iron Cross Records presented a ground shaking experience, one that they hope to continue throughout the summer, of live performances of local rap artists, spoken word artists and B-Boy’s/B-Girls, bridging the gap for all generations of the Most High God. The first such event kicked off with a rousing and entertaining force of intelligent lyrical praise of Christian morality, beliefs and values for youth to live by. The lineup of artists ranged in generations of youth and adult men and women alike.

RAP DUO—Iron Cross recording artists Dathan Wallace and Jason Jackson aka “Big D,” in the red cap, and “Zeal,” in white tee. (Photos by Rossano P. Stewart)

The vitality and vibes of their words left no doubt to listeners’ ears as to whom they pledged their un-dying faith to. With street slick, wise cutting metaphors derived from passages of the Bible, the message is clear and precise, “your duty is to God and his Son, Jesus Christ the Lord.” The audience filled the union hall of the church to its capacity. Many brought along their children and some came after work, to the event which began at 7p.m. and lasted until after midnight.

“I came to represent the King,” said Mecca, a 22-year-old Christian rap artist from South Hills Baptist Church. “To me, the only way to navigate around the minefield of dangers in the streets is through Christ.”

The increase of gun violence in the communities makes this holy intervention an oasis in the brutal desert of devastation. Throughout the evening, while the artists performed, everyone enjoyed the fellowship of one another in the hall. Hot dogs, cookies and chips with pop, were served by members of Union Baptist. Theordore “Teddy Rose” Roosevelt Butler III, the director of Urban Ministry at the church, was very pleased with the turnout of both artists and audience.

“This being the first event to be held at this church, is encouraging for me, it is wonderful to see that the hard work of those who gave their time and effort to such a project, which we only put together in two weeks, came off so well,” he said.

“It shows the people of this community that when Black folks put their heads together along with heart, mind and Gods love, things will turn out fine.”

Fine indeed, one by one the artists performed in well prepared fashion. The lyrical messages reverberated in the hall with potent vibes. Brian Flanagan, who goes by the artist name “Shofar;” an instrument made from a ram’s horn, as referred to in Jewish faith, used to call the faithful to prayer; rendered a song that included in its hook, “I got the passion of the Christ, but I ain’t Mel Gibson.” “The Passion of the Christ” is the title of the 2004 controversial film by actor/ director Gibson. “I have spent a lot of time in the Greater Pittsburgh area,” said Flanagan. “I’ve hung with some of the biggest names in the streets, some of the wildest thug guys out there and God just delivered me from all of it. I have lost friends to gun violence, have friends in jail to violence, I’ve seen both sides of the coin, street life does not work. I basically ran to the salvation of Christ.”

The same message rang true for all the audience. As the event concluded, MC Rubin Truth, gave thanks to those responsible for the effort and time they had contributed to the festivities. Reverend Tedder, senior pastor of Union Baptist Church, spoke to everyone and gave a closing prayer for those who lost friends and loved ones to the ever increasing war against gun violence in the communities of Pittsburgh.

To help support the efforts of the Urban Ministry or Union Baptist Church, call 412-378-6326 for further information.

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