O SING unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth. - Psalm 96:1
Mr. Waltier Blocker - Gospel Choir Master
Jay Fluellen, D.M.A. - Chancel Choir Master
Dr. Rollo Dilworth - Minister of Music
Joe Stevenson - Jazz Ensemble Director
The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas regards music as an integral part of the worship service as well as a ministry that reaches out to the community. The Chancel and Gospel choirs, and the Jazz Ensemble, all composed of volunteers, share in the musical celebration and praise to God. Congregational singing is from the 1982 Hymnal and the African-American Hymnal, "Lift Every Voice and Sing II." This congregation has become increasingly participatory and spirited over the past ten years.
The first volunteer choir composed of men and women was organized in 1886. Today this group is known as the Chancel Choir and is directed by Dr. Jay Fluellen, choirmaster. Dr. Fluellen holds a doctorate in Musical Arts from Temple University and is an accomplished organist, classical and jazz pianist and composer. Under his direction, the Chancel Choir sings God's praises through classical compositions, expressive spirituals and compositions arranged by him.
The Gospel Choir, organized in 1991, directed by Waltier Blocker, today they are a group of 58, spirit filled, energetic, and anointed musical ambassadors of song. Mr. Blocker is a graduate of the University of the Arts, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He majored in music and vocal studies, receiving extensive training in classical and operatic composition. As the choir's director, Mr. Blocker's spiritual background as an ordained, licensed minister in the Baptist Church, ministers to the Gospel Choir's endeavors to sing God's praises in an eclectic, high-powered and energetic ministry in gospel, spiritual and classical song.
The Mass Choir consists of members from the Chancel Choir, Gospel Choir, the congregation and surrounding community residents, singing God's praises through various classical, spiritual and gospel compositions.
The Jazz Ensemble is an instrumental group directed by Mr. Joseph Stevenson, a retired public school teacher, jazz musician and part-time jazz instructor at Lincoln University. The introduction of jazz first occurred at St. Thomas in the 1990s with a jazz mass. The repertoire includes familiar hymns arranged by Mr. Stevenson in the jazz idiom. The greatest distinction among these three musical groups is that the Jazz Ensemble has the most age diversity.
The Music Committee assists in raising funds to be used to enhance the music of the church service, and provides funding to minority students who are enrolled in a college or university pursuing study and training in voice or piano through the James T. Townsend Scholarship Fund. The Music Committee also presents Spring and Fall concerts of talented individuals or college choirs. The proceeds are used to provide scholarships as well.