Story and photos by Olivia Harrison
There was nothing but good times, happiness, and feelings of pure fabulousness to be held at Payton Memorial Church during the Miss Payton Memorial Temple Pageant held Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 in the church located on Midland Avenue. Three beautiful young ladies participated in the event, and all three were well deserving of the title.
This particular pageant, unlike other pageants for young women, was one of pure positivity and celebration of one’s internal as well as external beauty.
The pageant featured the three young contestants, along with guest entertainment from a Christian rap group called TAG (The Army of God), a mother and daughter singing trio named Family Affair, GQ fashions modeled by some of the cutest little boys’ you’ll ever see and hilarious antics from the master of ceremonies.
The night started off with the introduction from the Pastor of the church, the Rev. Jay Thomas, who talked about how he felt a special connection with the contestants as well as all the participants in the event. He continually reiterated his goal and mission as the reverend, which is to bring young people to a place of God, surrounded by family, fun and friends. You could see the encouragement and pure love held for every young performer, model and pageant princess in the building. Cheers rang as Family Affair sang, and TAG rapped about how they are “warriors of God.” It was so amazing and refreshing to see young people, especially those from the South Side possessing such gusto and commitment to their Lord and Savior and be willing to share their belief with others.
The pageant contestants were introduced and came out wearing their very best. It was inspiring to see three young African American girls saying that they were beautiful just the way they are. The master of ceremonies even said jokingly, “look at all this sexy chocolate we have here,” which garnered chuckles from all the audience members.
During the talent portion, two of the young contestants performed a praise dance, while one opted to show her poetry talent, reciting a poem she wrote titled “I Am Beautiful.” In the poem she said, “I am beautiful. God created everything beautiful and I was created by God, therefore I am beautiful.” This poem, as well as the exquisite dances touched the hearts of the audience members, and even brought some to tears.
When you first walk through the doors of Payton Memorial Temple you immediately get the feeling of a loving community, a feeling that some believe has been lost, especially on Syracuse’s South Side.
I was warmly welcomed and told a countless number of times “May God bless you.” This is what a church community is all about, and Payton Memorial Temple is all about promoting a sense of community and togetherness through a spirit of love. The Rev. Jay Thomas commented that his mission is to reach out to the youth, to support and help guide them away from the temptations of the world and towards a better life with Jesus. He, along with the help of his missionary team, and of course his loving wife “Lady Jay,” are truly accomplishing this goal. The pageant was a true example of what “beauty” is really all about.