A sold-out ballroom, full of well-wishers, came out to celebrate 40 years of mission, ministry, and music. The event was to honor the life and times of Reverend Dr. Dwight D. Andrews, the prolific pastor of Atlanta’s First Congressional Church. The tribute gala was held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Atlanta.
Forty years of ministry, mission, and music from The Reverend Dr. Dwight D. Andrews gave Atlanta something extraordinary to celebrate. Though Reverend Andrews comes to Atlanta by way of Detroit and New Haven, the city has claimed him as one of its native sons. He’s honored as being one of the creative and influential forces in ministry today.
Filling in for Ambassador Andrew Young, his wife Carolyn was the Honorary Chairperson of the gala. She welcomed friends, colleagues, parishioners, and the wealth of people who appreciate and admire Dr. Andrews and his ministries.
The Mistress of Ceremonies and Hostess for the affair was actress Phylicia Rashad who has worked on several film and theater projects with Andrews.
Spanning a variety of disciplines and roles, Reverend Andrews provided music direction for several of August Wilson’s groundbreaking Broadway plays. He also served as music director for Kenny Leon’s Broadway revival production of A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, and Audra McDonald.
His film credits include The Old Settler starring Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen. As a performer, he has recorded and played with jazz musicians around the world. In addition, he has produced the Atlanta Music Festival, served as artistic director of the National Black Arts Festival, and curated programs for the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
Many artists, actors, writers, and musicians attended and participate in the gala celebration including Keith David, an actor with the TV hit “Greenleaf,” being filmed in Atlanta; Jay Hoggard, jazz vibraphonist; Wycliffe Gordon, jazz trombonist; Kathleen Bertrand, song stylist: and Doc Powell, jazz guitarist.
Reverend Dr. Andrews has been pastor of First Congregational Church, UCC since 1999. Under his leadership, the church completed a ten-million-dollar renovation project resulting in the complete restoration of the historic building.
He also served under the creation of a new 3-story administrative wing, and a beautiful memorial garden that provides rare green space in the heart of downtown Atlanta.
The original stained glass windows telling the story of the church remain in the sanctuary and the original church bell, which called members to worship over a century ago, is now housed in the historic Herndon Gallery.
Another innovation at First Church is the Jazz Ministry which seeks to promote, present, and preserve the jazz tradition in its many forms.
Reverend Andrews is a nationally known jazz musician and jazz advocate. He was selected as one of the 2018 National Jazz Heroes by the Jazz Journalist Association.
This ministry includes “First Friday at First,” a monthly concert of jazz music, Jazz Vespers, the Atlanta Jazz Chorus, and the Third Sunday Jazz Band. The most recent addition to this ministry is the Sunday Jazz Showcase and Brunch, which will feature some of Atlanta’s finest young talents. It begins in early August 2018.
Proceeds from the 40 Years of Mission, Ministry, and Music Gala will be used to support the First Congregational Church Endowment which will provide a perpetual source of income to benefit the outreach ministries of the Church.