Monday, March 10, 2014

Inside this issue: Jonita Lattimore is this month's ShiningStar

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(Formerly St. Mark News)

March 2014 - Volume 3 - Issue 2
St. Mark Church
St. Mark Shining Stars
Meet Jonita Lattimore
St. Mark United Methodist Church will be a dynamic, ever expanding community
of love and service that invites others to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Senior Pastor
Rev. P. Devon Brown
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Rev. Dr. Barbara Morgan
Assistant Pastor
Min. Michele Watkins-Branch
Rev. William Andrews
Min. Pamela Pirtle
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Greetings St. Mark,
This issue of PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK features "St. Mark Shining Star," the first in a series of articles that will give you an inside look at some of the dedicated members of St. Mark. Shining Star articles will highlight members' contributions to St. Mark, their accomplishments, community service and interesting careers/hobbies/activities.
St. Mark Shining Stars can be any of our members, clergy or staff; youth or adult, well known or someone who quietly goes about doing great things to make St. Mark, the community or the world a better place. If you would like to suggest a member to be featured in an upcoming issue, email Please include why you feel the person would be a good choice to feature as a "St. Mark Shining Star."
Our Shining Star featured in this issue is Jonita Latimore.
Pressing Toward the Mark
Editorial Team
Meet Jonita Lattimore
The powerful, mesmerizing voice of Jonita Lattimore is likely the first thing you notice about her, if you've had a chance to hear her sing at St. Mark United Methodist Church or elsewhere. Her infectious laughter and humble personality - despite being a big-time name in the music industry - are likely the second.
The lyric soprano has gained international plaudits from music lovers since the 1990s for such performances in George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," Guiseppe Verdi's Requiem" and her regular appearances as a soloist with the Grant Park Symphony. Still, Lattimore said, "Regardless of where I am or what I'm doing, I'm just a regular old girl, child of God."
Lattimore grew up in a music-filled home in the South Side's Pill Hill neighborhood. Her late paternal grandmother was a pianist and a singer. Her late maternal grandmother played the violin. Her aunt taught piano. Her parents both sang, as did two other aunts. And her younger brother, Alex Lattimore, is a singer, songwriter, arranger and horn player, whose making a name in neo soul, rhythm and blues and jazz.
"So I've always been surrounded by music, and St. Mark has a rich, wonderful legacy," she said. Lattimore is a lifelong member of St. Mark, having come to the church with her parents and subsequently joining just about every ministry St. Mark had to offer over the years. Among the ministries she is currently active in is Higher Education Ministry, which helps young people get through college. To help raise funds for Higher Education Ministry, Lattimore will perform a concert called "It Takes A Village to Educate a Student" on March 16 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark.
St. Mark doesn't just hold a special place in Lattimore's heart for being her lifelong church. It was also the first place where she performed a major solo performance, she said. At age 8, she sang the boy soprano part in the St. Mark Chancel Choir's performance of Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah (it was traditional to use boy sopranos as soloist when the work was written).
"That was a big whoopdee-do," she laughed. Her family first got a hint that Lattimore had talent for music when her late father took her to a toy store. "What I've been told is...I found myself in front of a piano and instead of banging, I was actually playing. My father was pretty amazed," Lattimore recalled. Her mother, Benita Lattimore, began taking her at age 3 to piano lessons with Angela Wright (and subsequently to Chicago Children's Choir rehearsals, the Merit Music Program, Junior Achievement, etc.), who also taught her ear training, harmony and theory. That training helped to shape the musician Lattimore ultimately became, she said.
Others who aided Ms. Lattimore's early artistic development include her paternal grandmother, Alice Lattimore, the late Evelyn Gaston, director of the St. Mark Children's Choir, and Mr. Charles G. Kendrick, Organist and Chairman of the Music Department at St. Mark, who will be appearing in the "It Takes A Village" Concert. "If I were to name them all, we'd have all names in this article," she said.
She graduated from Kenwood Academy in 1987, then went on to Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. with a vocal scholarship. Lattimore also received a fellowship and a graduate degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana.
Lattimore has since appeared with the Houston Grand Opera, the Northern Israel Symphony, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Lyric's Center for American Artists (now known as Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center), to name a few. Lattimore said there have been too many highlights during her career to mention them all. Some recent ones, though, include singing as the soprano soloist at the Kennedy Center in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's death; being treated like a "rock star" in Costa Rica and performing at Carnegie Hall in New York with a few of her family members in the audience.
Lattimore spends her time in Chicago with her daughter 10-year-old Joyelle. She also teaches music and classical voice at Roosevelt University and classical plus (musical theater, jazz, gospel, R & B, pop and rock) at Columbia College Chicago, reminding students to "sing to
express, not to impress," she said. Despite having been all around the world to sing, Lattimore said she still gets nervous right before a performance. The reason has less to do with the size of the crowd she's performing in front of. It has more to do with making sure she is honoring the one who made it possible for her to sing as well as she does.
"Every time I open my mouth,... it is a ministry for me, no matter where I am. Because the gift that God has given me is what I'm using," Lattimore said. "I always want to move out of His way and allow Him to move through me."

By Monifa Thomas
St. Mark Offers Electronic Giving for Your Convenience

Visit the church website at and go to the "Online Giving" link. Select a giving frequency that is convenient for you: one time, weekly or monthly. Also, you may donate from your smart phone. Simply scan the image using your phone's Quick Response (OR) code reader. Authorization forms are available in the church office.
About St. Mark United Methodist Church
St. Mark United Methodist Church, the largest African-American church in the United Methodist Northern Illinois Conference, was founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1893. The mission of St. Mark is to help persons grow in their relationships to God through faith in Jesus Christ, to one another, and to the larger community, as it implements ministries that make known the Kingdom of God on earth. All are welcome to attend church services held every Sunday at 8:00 am. and 10am. For more information, visit
Sharon A. Slaton and Blanche H. Foster, Co-Editors
Ernest Payne, Copy Editor - Monifa Thomas, Copy Editor/Journalist
Contact us at:
St. Mark United Methodist Church
Rev. P. Devon Brown, Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Barbara Morgan, Associate Pastor
8441 S. Saint Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL 60619

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