Whether it’s organizing a gospel concert that promotes unity or teaching a Sunday school class at the Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church, Long Beach resident Brian Horne, 20, is often recognized by people in town because of his community involvement and leadership.
“We’re at Diner by the Sea now and this lady came over and said hello,” the Rev. Isaac Melton Jr. told a Herald reporter by phone on Tuesday. “He’s usually greeted by everybody. If you met him you would think that you’ve known him for a while — he’s very warm and engaging; he’s not one for pretense.”
Melton said that Horne, a 2015 graduate of Long Beach High School who was recently licensed as a minister, is not only a natural leader, but has become known for organizing a number of events at the church that have had a positive impact on young people in town.
“Because we see so many negative things in the media as it relates to our young people, we want to let everyone know that not all of our youth are in the streets and getting into trouble, but that they do have a relationship to God,” Melton said. “Minister Horne is one in particular who reaches out to young people — he’s always been that type of person since he was in school. As a result, his impact on our youth in the Long Beach community has been far reaching.”
On Feb. 20, Horne was honored with a proclamation by the City Council for organizing the Love & Unity benefit concert for the church on Jan. 27.
“Folks in the community love it because our community, especially the North Park, we were built on soul,” said Horne. “Even the young people — we listen to different types of music and we’re trying to make the right correlations, between that traditional, soulful sound.”
Horne organized the concert, selected songs and recruited a number of people in town to perform in the gospel choir. He also sang and performed in the show, now in its second year, and more than 100 people turned out for the event.
“A part of Black History Month is all about passing on and creating a legacy,” Councilwoman Anissa Moore said at last week’s ceremony. “This year, as a council, we decided that we really wanted to highlight the contributions of our young people — the youth are our future.”
Christian Light was founded by the late Rev. Jesse James Evans, the pastor at Christian Light for 50 years when he died in April 2000 at age 87. The church, at 620 Park Place, has between 150 and 200 members, and the street was officially renamed J.J. Evans Boulevard in 2003.
Horne, who works in the city’s community development department, came up with the idea for the concert last year, which attracted people from Brooklyn, Queens, Far Rockaway, Westbury, Uniondale, and other areas.
“This was the second year we did the Love and Unity Concert, and part of the concert was to raise funds for our church while also promoting love and unity throughout our community,” Horne said. “Rev. Evans built the largest African American church in Long Beach based on faith, and he loved everybody — and we need to continue to love and continue to believe.”
Horne said it took him two months to organize this year’s event, which included finding a mix of talented vocalists and musicians ranging from 16- to 63-years-of-age.
“What I did was reach out to the local churches and people I knew who could sing,” said Horne, a former Monroe College student now majoring in human services at Nassau Community College. “I wanted them to use the gift of singing, and we asked them to be a part of the choir — and the choir sounded great. This year, we promoted a community choir and after the concert, we were asked to sing at a number of events, to sing on some big stages, including the Apollo Theater in Harlem.”
Horne is also a member of Harlem’s prestigious Vy Higginsen Gospel for Teens Choir, a highly respected and influential arts education program that teaches music history and vocal techniques. He is currently organizing a youth gospel revival at Christian Light next month that will include live performances and preaching.
“A lot of R&B artists and even rappers have gotten their start in the local church, and [Horne] sings not to entertain but to bless God,” Melton said. “His singing encourages both young and old, and I know it’s liberating for him.”
“Brian is an emerging leader in the community,” Moore added. “He brings his passion for bringing people together, creative talents and strong community involvement, which are all great assets. We are extremely proud of his accomplishments.”