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Have yourself a jazzy little Christmas

California’s New Hope Presbyterian Church invites the world to enjoy its online ‘Jazzy Christmas’

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Jazzy Christmas, a highly-anticipated yuletide concert put on each year by New Hope Presbyterian Church in Anaheim, California, can’t, because of the pandemic, be held in person this month.

That’ll make it all the easier for Presbyterians living outside of Southern California to enjoy the Jazzy Christmas experience.

“This year,” said Susan Sherman, a ruling elder at New Hope and the founder of SVC International, which among other services produces live events, documentaries and science and medical programming, “the virtual concert is our gift to the community.”

With its five-year history, Jazzy Christmas has traditionally been a fundraiser for the church, which began as a new worshiping community about a decade ago. Last year’s concert was filmed by a professional video producer and her crew, who volunteered their services to put together a Jazzy Christmas promotional video for New Hope Presbyterian Church, available here.

Susan Sherman is a ruling elder at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Anaheim, California. (Photo courtesy of SVC International)

“It was originally intended to just take some video footage of the concert for the promo,” Sherman said, “but our crew shot the concert in its entirety along with providing a professionally produced audio mix. So you really have the full experience like you are sitting in the seats.”

Reggie Goodjoin, the music director at New Hope Presbyterian Church and the husband of New Hope’s pastor, the Rev. Chineta Goodjoin, gathers accomplished musicians from all over the country each year to put on the concert. “We always sell out,” Chineta Goodjoin said. But “this year things changed because of COVID.”

The Rev. Chineta Goodjoin is pastor at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Anaheim, California. (Photo courtesy of Presbytery of Los Ranchos)

“The objective,” Pastor Goodjoin said, “is to bring some cheer to people (like us) who are not able to be with family and friends in the ways that are our traditional norms.”

“Jazzy Christmas is a lot of fun for the musicians,” Reggie Goodjoin said, “because they are able to work together and share their talents with the community in a very special way. They embody the true spirit of Christmas by giving their time and talent to bring joy to people. It is inspiring for me to be a part of it.”

Sherman said she often hears from attendees that the concert “is not only a great way to usher in the holidays, but it is a unique spin on traditional holiday songs.”

The Rev. Dr. Don Oliver, the retired director of pastoral care at Hoag Hospital, offered this take on the Jazzy Christmas experience: “The thing about Jazzy Christmas is that it’s ‘jazzy.’ And that means it’s unscripted. And anything could happen with a traditional Christmas carol, a traditional Christmas song, or traditional Christmas melody. And once our musicians come together and start feeling it and putting their emotions into the music, the music will then reflect the feelings of the group, of the participants, and the audience and the congregation. And it’ll also reflect the ability and skills and the sensitivity of the musicians. And that’s jazz at its best.”

The lineup for the virtual concert includes Reggie Goodjoin on bass guitar, Tateng Katendig on piano, Munyongo Jackson playing percussion, Willie Bradley on trumpet, Kathy Bailey Cunningham and Alva Copeland providing vocals, Donald Hayes on saxophone, Reggie Johnson on drums and Yohie Nakamura on rhythm guitar.

At 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, Dec. 20, experience Jazzy Christmas by clicking here. An encore presentation is set for 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

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