Martin, a bass soloist at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, began looking at ways he could serve people on the opposite end of the country through the means he knew best: music.
The church recently held a concert and gathered proceeds to benefit a sister congregation, New Providence Presbyterian Church in New Providence, N.J. An estimated 150 people turned up and gave more than $10,000 to assist with rebuilding and immediate relief efforts.
The concert, held Nov. 18, took place exactly 10 days after Martin approached church leadership about his idea. Within the brief span of time was an extensive amount of planning, promotion and practicing.
“That’s the one thing I like about church musicians,” Martin said. “We all have a certain shorthand. I knew we could pull this together fairly quickly.”
Twenty-five musicians — including a brass ensemble, an organist and more than half a dozen singers — participated in the concert. Martin, expressing his faith, said he was not surprised the event went off without a hitch.
“God took each one of our talents and made this come together very quickly,” he said.
Ron Bolles, worship and arts director at the church, said he was on board with the idea the minute Martin proposed it.
“It sounded great to me, and I said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do it,’” Bolles said. “We ran with the idea and decided to give to another church so the money was going directly toward relief efforts.”
Bolles said the concert was a powerful evening, punctuated by a number of songs designed to instill hope during a time of tragedy.
New Providence received La Jolla’s donated funds in early December. Nancy Rizkalla is director of missions at the church, located in suburban New York City. Rizkalla said she and other church officials have been hard at work, aiming to fill in the gaps as FEMA and other agencies continue their efforts.
“We’ve wanted to be there for the people impacted and use every penny we receive wisely,” Rizkalla said. “This hits home to us. Some of our congregants were affected. There are people who lost everything.”