One of the joyful holiday traditions in the Clarks Summit area is the 11 p.m. Jazz Christmas Eve service at the First Presbyterian Church. The bustling congregation on the corner of Stone Avenue and School Street has offered this holiday gift to the community for over a dozen years. This year, however, the impact extends even further.
Rev. Bill Carter, pastor of the church and leader of the Presbybop jazz quartet, was wondering what he could do to support those recovering from Hurricane Sandy. His thoughts turned to his friend Carl Wilton, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Point Pleasant, N.J. The Point Pleasant church is located just blocks from the high-water mark of the hurricane's storm surge and has many members who have been flooded out of their homes.
At the same time, Wilton was feeling concern for his church members, who will be having a very different sort of Christmas this year in the storm's aftermath. He contacted Rev. Bill Carter to say, ‘Wouldn't it be a great thing if the Presbybop Jazz Quartet could do a benefit here for hurricane relief to lift people's spirits? said Wilton.
Together, the two hatched plans for a live benefit concert of Christmas carols set to a jazz beat. The Jazz Noel concert took place Dec. 17 in Point Pleasant Beach. Admission was free and a free-will offering raised funds for the church's hurricane-relief efforts. Advance contributions had already covered all the expenses of bringing the band to town, so every penny raised have gone to help displaced people in the area.
Rev. Carter's Presbybop Christmas Eve Band will play Dec. 24 at the 11 p.m. service in First Presbyterian Church, located at 300 School Street, Clarks Summit.