Vlog 22 – Gospel, Art & Jon Cleary

When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2015 a big part of the city got destroyed. Two years after the hurricane two United Methodist congregations less than one mile apart from each other merged into one. The remnant of First UMC, an historically white congregation, and the remnant of Grace UMC, an historically black congregation, merged to First Grace UMC. This makes First Grace United Methodist Church unique, because it is one of the rare churches where black, white and all religions come together. And you can feel that from the moment you walk in. It’s not that I’ve never felt welcome in a church, but this made me feel accepted. As they say it on their website: First Grace is an urban community of faith embracing all of God’s children as persons of sacred worth, regardless of station in life, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Today was their tenth anniversary and Dan who I met in the city and sings in the choir, invited me to celebrate with them. It was such a nice experience.


Katrina also destroyed the famous 1300 acre City Park, 95% was sitting in floodwaters for weeks. The damage was around 43 million dollars. The public responded with an overwhelming outpouring of support that has funded significant progress in not only repairing, but also improving City Park. They’re still working very hard, but it’s already so beautiful and it contains lots for every age and interest. The New Orleans Museum of Art, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, and the Botanical Garden are really worth a visit. And a drink and something to eat at ‘Morning Call’, a nice coffee house, makes it complete.

After that of course more music. The first night in New Orleans I went to Chickie Wah Wah, a cool bar close to my hostel. The Grammy Award winning musician Jon Cleary was playing there this time and my god he pleasantly surprised me. One guy on a stage and he kept it interesting during his whole gig, pretty special. That’s why I put a long piece of the performance in the vlog, hope you enjoy it.

Next Up: Frenchmen Street & The Old U.S. Mint

Leave a Reply