PLAINFIELD, NJ — Plainfield “went to church” at the Tree unveiling ceremony at the newly renovated Plainfield Performing Arts Center, or PPAC. The unveiling of the tree marks the culmination of the work of a team of volunteers led by Rev. Paul Dean of Visions Of God Family Worship Church, starting with a vision in 2018, to honor Plainfield’s many houses of worship during the City’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary.
The tree sculpture, designed by Kim Hayes, has metal leaves representing local houses of worship from the 1800s to the present, some inscribed with the year they were established, and blank ones for future ones. Carolyn Morton, Sarah Hull of the Plainfield Public Library, and Nancy Piwowar, President of the Historical Society of Plainfield at the Drake House Museum, worked together to obtain information and data on the origins and history of the churches.
The ceremony was officiated by Rev. Dean who offered prayers for both the present and the future Plainfield.
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp remarked how fitting it was to stand and recognize Plainfield churches.
“We know the importance of houses of worship where we go to get the spiritual nourishment for us to do the work we have been put here to do. Our houses of worship have been great partners, and we have come full circle: we have celebrated with the Crescent Presbyterian Church celebrating 175 years, the Plainfield Symphony celebrating 100 years and the City’s 150th Anniversary,” Mapp noted.
Invited guest Rabbi Tillman of Beth Israel in Scotch Plains offered prayers of unity referring to the sculpture as a “Tree of Life” image with branches casting down a shadow of protection with everyone originating from the shared roots. Beth Israel was originally founded as Temple Israel in 1957 and later merged with Temple Beth El of Plainfield in 1994.
The celebrations continued with musical selections performed by 150th Anniversary Choir and Ronnell Harrison. Plainfield High School student Chelsea Young also delivered a historical perspective of the local churches, and the Plainfield Vikings performed a lively dance number along with the choir.
The finale to the city’s year long celebratory events will take place on Saturday, Dec. 21 with a gala event at the PPAC.
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