Hoping a spot in Guinness Book of World Records, 1,482 singers from more than 40 churches gathered on the lawn of Bridgeton, N.J.’s city hall annex Saturday afternoon and sang “Amazing Grace” in four-part harmony.
They followed it with “How Great Is Our God” and “Jesus, I Love You.”
But they weren’t just yearning for a spot in the record books. They called the event Voices Against Violence — in hopes it would help unite the South Jersey after a spike in violence over the summer, including the recent shooting deaths of two men, Andre Harris and Joseph Elliott, within days of each other.
The Guinness organization must verify the accomplishment before the record is official, reported Cody Glenn in the Camden Courier-Post.
“The record is just icing on the cake,” Mayor Albert Kelly told Glenn. “More so, this shows the community wants to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. People here are standing up — black, white, brown, young people, old people.”
Nearly all of the roughly 45 churches in and around Bridgeton had a hand and a voice in the event, which was held on the lawn and street in front of the City Hall Annex, reported Glenn:
One of the event’s organizers, Pastor David Gonzalez of Overcoming Victory Church in Bridgeton, called it an honor to be part of the cause.
“I’m even more ecstatic with the turnout,” said Gonzalez. “We believe Bridgeton can be turned around for good. We need to work together.”
A professionally made video of the event is being sent to Guinness officials for final approval and verification of the actual turnout. The record-keeper’s stipulations were for the choir to continuously sing for five minutes straight at the same location.
Jasper St. Bernard, born and raised in Bridgeton, was one of the 1,482 who lent their voices and spirit to the massive choir.
“It felt so warming,” said St. Bernard, 50. “It gave me hope. This is just the beginning. I’ve seen good change here and I’ve seen bad change here, but I still believe this county is a great place to be.”