Annual Chili Cook and “Unity in Diversity “Jazz Service Brought Family and Friends Together to Help Neighbors in Need

Lincroft, NJ  – “'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."  - New International Version

While some people celebrated Valentine’s Day with a card, a romantic dinner, gold-foiled chocolates in a heart-shaped box or a bouquet of beautiful red roses, members of Lincroft Presbyterian Church, took the matters of love straight to the heart, and hosted a Chili Cook-off and a Unity in Diversity Jazz Service to benefit two neighbors, 180 Turning Lives Around and Family Promise of Monmouth County immediately prior to the day of love. The two events raised more than $1,500 for these two organizations, which offer the only places of sanctuary in Monmouth County for families facing domestic violence or homelessness.

Way to the Heart Travels through the Stomach

More than 60 people came hungry and left nourished in body, mind and soul, and raised more than $500 for 180 Turning Lives Around.Beautiful décor from colorful sombreros to the bright red and gingham tablecloths, votive candles and “chill” tunes transformed room as cowboy boot-clad guests “taste tested” their favorite chili and voted for the People’s Choice Award.

Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, Lincroft Firefighter Jack Fowler and Chef Joe Musa sampled each of the 13 entries and chose winners for first and second place: Holmdel’s Jenna Sheldon won a $100 MasterCard gift card donated by Two River Community Bank/Middletown branch for her venison chili, while Middletown’s Marianne Ziegler and her “Hawt Stuff” chili won both second prize ($50 gift certificate to Luigi’s Famous Pizza & Queso’s/Lincroft) and the praise of the people as the People’s Choice award winner (two free entrees courtesy of The Turning Point Restaurants).  Guests also won door prizes donated by family and friends and local businesses: Acme/Lincroft, Zoni’s Coal Fired Pizza, and AutoZone.

Funds raised from the evening will help 180 furnish the new safe house that opens in early spring 2016.

Unity in Diversity Shows Love in Music & Metaphor

More than 65 people came out on the bitter cold Thursday evening to a church sanctuary transformed into a candlelit lounge to watch the LPC Players perform skits, while LPC members read scripture accompanied by jazz selections from LPC Music Director and professional trumpeter John Morrison and renowned area musicians:

  • Pianist Timothy Broege, a nationally renowned composer and music director at Belmar Presbyterian Church;
  • Guitarist Doug Clarke, an in-demand jazz sideman, and a prodigy of Tal Farlow;
  • Drummer John Gronert who has performed with The Drifters and Darius Brubeck, and was a student of Joe Morello and Sonny Igoe;
  • String Bass and Guitarist Robert Marriner who has played with the Platters, Little Anthony, the Duprees and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

“Unity in Diversity, the theme for the third annual jazz vespers service, is our response to the ugliness that we see in the media these days.  With this service we celebrate our differences as well as what we have in common. Our aim is to build bridges and relationships among people who don't necessarily share the same faith traditions,” says Diane R. Ford.

The evening, which raised $1,000, was dedicated to the work of Family Promise of Monmouth County, the only organization providing shelter to homeless families in the county.  The organization relies on a network of 22 congregations including LPC to host and support families during their time of transition.