Couple includes call to salvation in wedding

Couple includes call to salvation in wedding
April 05
03:00 2018

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Special to The Chronicle

In the 1920s and the 1930s, African-American artists, writers, dancers, scholars, singers, jazz musicians, gospel musicians, photographers, sculptors, actors, and the like initiated an outburst of creativity in Harlem, New York, which became known as the Harlem Renaissance. 

Because the Harlem Renaissance was such a defining cultural and spiritual movement in America, Rodney and Reynita Blake used this idea as the theme of their nuptials. Bishop Sir Walter Mack Jr., pastor of Union Baptist Church, officiated with the assistance of Rev. Anita Wade.

“I chose the Harlem Renaissance theme because I love my African heritage. The Harlem Renaissance embodies heritage and culture,”’ said Reynita Blake. “I wanted to invite the community to celebrate our spirituality, our culture and our ancestry as African-American people.”

Rodney and Reynita Blake were married at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, at Saint John Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in the rich Harlem Renaissance tradition.  More than 200 well-wishers attended. Cultural and spiritual aspects in their wedding included an invitation to discipleship, jumping the broom, the three-cord ceremony and the African libation.

Rodney Blake, the groom, is elated that their special day finally came.

“Ever since I met Reynita, I have been committed to her. Now we have exchanged rings, and I love her with all my heart,” Blake said. “Reynita is my rib.”

The couple included the invitation to discipleship during their wedding.

“It is very fitting for Bishop Mack to open the doors of the church. This wedding is not just about us. It is also to bless the community,” Rodney Blake said.

“We wanted to extend the opportunity for someone to give their life to Christ during our wedding,” said Reynita Blake. “From the three-cord ceremony, I learned that as long as we keep Christ in the center of our marriage, we will be unified.”

The musical selections were diverse. Baba Joseph of The Healing Force sang “Many Waters Cannot Quench Love” and “Think on These Things.” Trumpet Maestro Dr. James Armstrong performed “Trumpet Voluntary” (Jeremiah Clark) and “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (J.S. Bach) accompanied by Rochelle L. Joyner, organ/piano maestro. Dana Powers sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and “The One He Kept for Me” (Donald Hayes and Teresa Jones) as the bride made her entrance escorted by her father, Reynard McMillan.

The couple jumped the broom to connect with the African American tradition that marked matrimony for enslaved Africans.

Note: The Rev. Dr. Felecia Piggott-Long, the mother of the bride, performed the African libation and created the ancestor table to honor deceased family members and friends.

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