September 11 was a school night, but three hundred people or more stayed up late at church . They stayed up for a benefit concert that recalled the raw wounds and also the new neighborliness of those 9-11 days. Through Sean's connection with Newton producer Peter Hackel, Hackel's annual September 11 benefit concert in memory of his stepmother (killed in one of the planes on September 11) was moved to FBCN this year. It supports a playground in urban Boston in her name. The concert featured Grammy nominee Jon Butcher, Fly Amero (of the group Orleans), country singer Allen Estes, Chelsea Berry, The Cover Girls, the James Montgomery Blues Band and----as the picture demonstrates--- Lynn and Sean Witty. These terrific musicians lavished energy and love on an incredible evening of music and remembrance. The music went from blues to Beatles, a knock-down rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah to a stand up version of the Star-Spangled Banner and included two opening songs from Lynn and Sean that started a roll that never stopped. This evening put our church and community on a new kind of map, and made a lot of new friends. It was great to see many from our congregation in the crowd.
The post on the benefit's facebook page the next day said it all: "Thank you EVERYONE who came out last night! A special thank you to the folks at First Baptist Church in Newton…we have found our new home!"
Late after eleven, people still lingered under our new lights on the front lawn, savoring the late summer, the sense of community, the beauty shared and some concrete good done.