Strawberry Mansion: Performing Arts in Prince of Peace Church Brings People Together

Cook leads the choir in a song.
Cook led the choir in a song.

Loud thumps of drums, piano keys and singing voices blare out of Prince of Peace Baptist Church at 1801 N. 31st St. for choir practice every Monday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

After a fire destroyed the church in 2008, it reopened in 2011 smaller, but more tech savvy and energy friendly.

The church has two printing shops, a fitness room, a computer lab full of computers fresh out of the boxes, a spacious kitchen, a movie projector and multiple spacious rooms for Bible studies and conferences. However, the worldwide tradition of choir in churches still attracted many members to Prince of Peace.

“I think people usually navigate towards the choir,” said Choir and Mime Director Shavonne Cook.

Cook said people usually first join choir or the usher responsibilities of the church and then gravitate toward other ministries.

Fellow choir director and older sister to Cook, Pamela Gray, said the choir members are “the people you always see around the church,” and that the directors, “try to keep [the music] contemporary, modern, praise and worship style.”

“I was 8 when I joined and I had no choice,” said choir member Martina Carolina of why she joined the church.

Outside of the tenors, altos and sopranos singing songs, Prince of Peace also offers miming, a silent but praising performance art, too.

“Originally when I was little we saw them on a TV Christmas show,” said Cook. “That was like 25 years ago and that really intrigued me because it was translating the song into body movements.”

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