“I don’t go here, but I wanted to just tell you all how encouraging this place is,” Jonah Johnston says, a student from the Jackson area. “I have been here a few times and come when I’m able. You guys are doing something amazing here.”
The evening worship gathering is a celebration of 3rd Street Community Church’s third birthday. Three years formally gathering as 3rd Street; ten years of ministry in the 44707 community.
There’s a break in the music and testimonies continue for the next forty minutes. People share of lives lost and souls restored. Hope found in times that looked hopeless. Tangible Jesus experiences that changed the course of lives.
Just before testimonies began, the room was dancing and shouting as they collectively sang, “Waymaker” with the vocals led by one of Black Oceans’ drummers, David Lewis. The room was already primed with excitement from the gathering, so when Lewis stepped away from his usual position and grabbed the microphone, a communal “okay, DLew!!!” rang out.
Black Oceans is a collection of talented singers, musicians, and worshippers who have found a home at 3rd Street and serve the church by ushering in the presence of the Holy Spirit every Sunday. There are more than a dozen members of the band, and, on a Sunday morning, you’ll find about six of them at a time leading the congregation together.
On this occasion, Black Oceans organized an evening of worship and testimonies to celebrate the three-year anniversary of 3rd Street’s first Sunday morning service.
Perhaps, what is most unique about the group is that it does not have one lead vocalist or musician. While JD Laird is the Creative Arts Director on staff at 3rd Street and does the administration and behind-the-scenes work, Black Oceans vocal style and musician make-up is a celebration of the cultural and ethnic diversity of 3rd Street and the 44707 community.
From song selections to stage representation to delivery style, every choice made by the band is thoughtfully considered to ensure that all people present in the congregation are able to worship in a way that allows them to feel free and connected to God.
“We’re here to give God all the praise and glory he deserves,” Laird says as the group steps into position for their closing song. “We might sing this last one for a while, so worship in the way that fits you and how you’re feeling. Feel free to dance, to shout, to raise your hands, whatever. Let’s worship together.” With that invitation, people rise from their seats to spread out around the room.
Some have kids on their shoulders, some have tambourines in their hands, and some are falling to their knees in prayer. A feeling of praise and freedom takes over the room as the church together sings out, “I’ll raise a hallelujah with everything inside of me.”
And, that’s exactly what they did.
To worship with Black Oceans, join us at 3rd Street for any 11AM Sunday service at The Martin Center, 1253 3 rd Street SE, Canton, Ohio 44707.