Grayson Warren Brown will visit All Saints
By Connie Berry
“The Power of Faith” is the theme for an after-Easter mission to be held at All Saints Parish, 1340 Lancaster Ave. in the Syracuse University neighborhood. The man who will deliver the message is internationally known long-time composer, author, speaker and recording artist Grayson Warren Brown. He will speak at weekend liturgies April 30 and May 1 and then Sunday evening, May 1, at 7 p.m., Monday night at 7 p.m. and a final presentation on Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. All events are free and open to everyone.
Brown now lives in Florida but is a native New Yorker.
“I’m a native New Yorker born and raised,” Brown said in a recent telephone interview. “My heart is very much still there but I just don’t like the cold and snow.”
Brown has delivered his powerful message for more than 40 years and still enjoys the challenge of igniting faith in others. He said it isn’t the trappings and ritual of the Catholic denomination, but the message of scripture that energizes him. Father Fred Daley, pastor of All Saints, is hoping Brown’s message will light a fire in his parish so that parishioners will be ready and willing to share the message of Jesus Christ with the surrounding neighborhood.
“We want to evangelize and welcome those who are unchurched or who are Catholics who are not connecting,” Father Daley explained. “This is an Eastertide retreat that will fire us up with the Spirit so that we can go and reach out to our neighbors.”
The parish offers youth and young adult ministry reaching out to the neighborhood and to the Syracuse University and Le Moyne College communities.
All Saints also offers a vibrant Gospel Mass every Sunday at 9 a.m. Many of Brown’s liturgical songs are included in the Lead Me, Guide Me hymnal used at the Mass. All Saints is made up of a diverse population with a significant number of Black Catholics, many refugee families, and the LGBT Catholic community, Father Daley explained.
“Evangelization is at the heart of our mission, which is to be inclusive and welcoming to all,” Father Daley said. “Grayson Warren Brown is a Black Catholic speaker, author and composer. We’re so blessed with having a significant number of Black Catholics and our Gospel Choir. This is an opportunity to really celebrate the gifts of our Black Catholic community.”
Brown said he is looking forward to the visit, and that his niece happens to currently be attending Syracuse University. He described his message as very “scripture based.”
“I try to get people to see those stories as very human stories, not as stories about God dealing with people who are already saints,” Brown said. “I want to present scripture in such a way so that people will get excited about having a personal relationship with God.”
Brown finds himself spreading the Gospel message during what could be described as challenging times. His own spirituality, Brown said, stays energized with the fundamental belief that, “I am loved and that God greatly appreciates effort.”
“Success and failure are works in progress,” Brown said. “Effort is greatly appreciated. I believe one of the greatest sins we can commit is to give up trying. One of the criticisms I see today is that in some ways we have given up trying. We settle for less because we don’t believe in the possibilities. Being Christian is important and our being Catholic can lead us to being better Christians.”
Even though the church faces challenges today, Brown said he still sees people every day who believe that “good can come of this world.” Brown has a ministry in east Africa and he said there are lessons to learn from a country with such poverty. “I am very excited about things I see there,” Brown said. “There are lessons we can learn. There is no such thing as a Sunday religion with them. It’s an everyday religion.”
What Brown is most energized by, he said, is that there are people in the church who still see that faith has to be lived daily, not just on Sunday.
“We need to be excited about being a member of the Body of Christ,” he said.
For more information about Brown’s visit to Syracuse, call All Saints at (315) 472-9934.