The Truth Staff
The 17th annual African American Prayer Breakfast was held on Friday, July 15 at the Glass City Metropark Pavilion. The sold-out prayer breakfast, which serves as the opening event for the trio of celebrations of local African American culture and entertainment, was organized, as usual, by the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union and was attended by several hundred who enjoyed breakfast, listened to prayers offered by a number of community religious leaders and applauded this year’s honorees.
This mistress of ceremonies for this year’s breakfast was Delise Simmons, a longtime former staff member of TUFCU, and the various worship songs were performed by Amanda Heron, who dazzled the audience with her renditions of spiritual favorites.
Suzette Cowell, TUFCU CEO and founder of the African American Festival, Prayer Breakfast and Parade, explained to the audience the vision she had years ago, inspired by God, to start the annual tribute to African American culture.
Those offering prayers were Bishop Pat McKinstry of the Worship Center; Sr. Virginia Welsh of St. Martin de Porres; Pastor Otis Gordon of Warren AME Church; Sr. Maxine Young of the Sisters of Notre Dame; Min. John Jones of Christian Temple Baptist Church, Elder Lisa Key of Peoples Baptist Church and Pastor Randall Parker of Canaan Manifested Word Church.
The highlight of the morning was the presentation of honors to the awardees. Those honored were Adam Levine, Pastor Willie Perryman, Suzanne Rorick, David Ross and Sonia Flunder-McNair.
Levine, the Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director of the Toledo Museum of Art and a scholar of ancient art, is the 10th director of TMA since its founding in 1901. Levine came to the Museum in 2012 as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow and went on to senior management roles – deputy director and curator of ancient art. He is now director of the Museum’s $16 million budget and 250 employees.
Perryman, pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church for the past 17 years, has worked for both the State of Ohio and the City of Toledo in the past. He is currently the president of the Toledo Chapter of the NAACP and plays an instrumental role in the revitalization of Dorr Street.
Rorick, executive director of the Toledo Opera since 2011, has been a driving force in ensuring the Opera operates under a set of principles called Sound Vision – the achievement of the highest artistic standards coupled with sound fiscal management. That commitment has enabled the Opera to maintain diversity in its offerings including bringing groundbreaking productions such as I Dream and Blue to the Toledo area.
Ross, a community artist who is an advocate for youth and creativity, is an alumnus of the Arts Commission’s Young Artist at Work and a leader and founder of the charity Dunkin 4 Donations. He is also a boxing coach for the Soul City Boxing Club, a member of the Arts Commission Creative Placemaking team, and is active in the community trying to connect art and social issues, such as youth against crime, health and honoring local legends such as Art Tatum and Jon Hendricks.
Flunder-McNair, the founder and CEO of SONIA Organics, LLC, has developed a line of health, hygiene and beauty products designed to help customers live and feel well. She has coordinated her efforts with community members such as the Lucas County Land Bank, Bench Farms and the Junction Neighborhood Community to construct Tatum Park by SONIA Organics, a wholistic green space near the historic Art Tatum House.
This year’s breakfast meal was prepared and served by Decadent Catering.