Rehearsal Times

The two Thursday evenings leading up to the 3rd Sunday of each month at 7PM.

Approximately nineteen years ago, at one of the Sunday school staff meetings, there was a discussion on how to get the children more involved. It was decided that during the closing assembly portion of Sunday school they would sing a song. After several months, Pastor Augustus. T. Gaskins decided that the group should sing along with the Zionettes, the youth choir, who provided the music for the Third Sunday Worship Service. First Lady Evelyn Gaskins named the group, “The Jewels.” Sister Toni Whitted volunteered to direct. Sister Doris Sessoms played the piano for the group. Deacon Charles Perkins provided some music books and tapes.

After several months of participating in the Third Sunday Worship Service, one of the parents thought it would be nice if the group had robes. She gave a portion of the funds from her speaking engagements to purchase fabric. After weeks of sewing by parents and friends, the Jewels proudly marched in wearing their beautiful white robes on the third Sunday in February 1988. At that time, there were approximately 14 members.

In 1996, the minister of music, Brother Sylstea Sledge, brought to First Mount Zion, Mrs. Connie Lawson, as the Jewels’ Director. Under her direction and with the support of a strong parent support group, membership increased to over 50 members. In 1998, the minister of music added to the group Brother James Glover as Sister Lawson’s accompanist. Under the direction of Sister Connie Lawson and accompanist James Glover, the Jewels sang at nursing homes and have been invited to sing and fellowship with other children’s choirs.

In May 2000, six parents – Denise McPhail, Betty Bostick, Michelle Cook, Linda Jackson, Michelle Thompson and Avis McMullen formed the Jewels Planning Activity Committee. This committee promotes activities designed to enhance spiritual growth and to build self-esteem of the Jewels through study of the word, song and fellowship. The committee has been instrumental in organizing and planning the Jewels Gospel Fest, which is usually held every two years. The Jewels held their first Gospel Fest in May of 2001 under the direction of Sister Lawson. Children’s choirs from Emmanuel Baptist Church, Mount Ephraim Baptist Church, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School Choir, the Emmanuel Baptist Church B.A.S.U. Step Team, soloists Kevin Ross, Vernika Banks, and violinist Lanita Robertson were invited guests. The Jewels’ second annual Gospel Fest was held in 2003 with special guests, the William Wirt Middle School Chorus of Riverdale, Maryland, under the direction of Brother Avery Joseph, with a dance performance by the Jewels of Praise liturgical dance team, and with special guest speaker Melissa Albright, a 2003 Martin Luther King, Jr., orator winner.

Under the guidance and direction of Sister Connie Lawson, along with the extremely gifted talents of Brother James Glover, the First Mount Zion Jewels have grown spiritually and have progressed immensely. Today, the group membership is close to 100 precious angelic voices.

We are thankful for God’s blessing, the encouragement of our pastor Reverend Dr. Luke E. Torian, the First Mount Zion Baptist Church family, and the support and excellent leadership of our Minister of Music, Brother Sylstea Sledge. Continue to pray for us as we sing to the glory of GOD.