Beltway Buzz

'Bridging the Gap' conference fuses music and ministry with marvelous results

Pastor Jerome Bell held his second annual “Bridging the Gap: The Gathering of Priests and Levites” conference, from October- 27-28 at First Rock Baptist Church in Washington, DC. The conference is designed to bridge the gap between music and the pulpit. It was a vision that appears to have been birthed in Pastor Bell when he penned his 2006 book, Bridging The Gap Between The Music Department & The Pulpit. In its second year, the conference continues to celebrate the greatness and diversity of artists living in the metropolitan D.C. area.

Pastor Jerome Bell at Bridging the Gap


Conference founder, Pastor Jerome Bell

On Thursday, Pastor Bell honored Evangelist Lois Tillery-Moore and Elder Sylvia Wyman for their contributions to Gospel music. In 1978, Barbara Best formed the “B.L. & S. Singers.” It was a trio that included herself, Evangelist Tillery-Moore and Elder Wayman, who were former members of the Deliverance Singers. B.L.&.S. stands for Blessed Loved & Saved.

Darlene Simmons sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and also joined Evangelist Tillery-Moore and Elder Wayman for some old-school singing. Another highlight from Friday was Pastor Jeremiah Murphy playing the piano and leaving the sanctuary in awe.

On Friday night, it was all about the music. The lineup was filled with Kendall King, Jimmy Russell & BOC, Robert E. Person, Victoria Purcell Coan and the CD release of Reggie Hardy & Body of Praise.

Reggie Hardy CD release at First Rock Baptist


Reggie Hardy & Body of Praise

Reggie Hardy & Body of Praise

Jimmy Russell & BOC performed and gave the audince what they are known for: being consistent, engaging and uplifting. Word on the street is that there will be new music from this ensemble in the new year. That is certainly great news to many fans of the popular group.

Jimmy Russell

Jimmy Russell perform at Bridging the Gap

Jimmy Russell and some of the members of BOC

Here are a few more highlights from Friday night:

Victoria Purcell Coan brought the audience to its feet with her rendition of “Speechless.” Her awe-inspiring performance came hot on the heels of her captivating the audience in Las Vegas, Nevada when she sang the national anthem at the opening of the American College of Emergency Physicians 2016 Council Meeting.

Victoria Purcell Coan sings speechless

Kendall King led praise and worhsip backed up by a band and singers that included Ginger Cromwell and Martin Cromwell. King also came back later in the night and shared in song.


Tanya Dallas Lewis was in the house. Fresh off of making the preliminary ballot that determines Grammy nominees, Lewis gave an electrifying performance backed by her band. Her performance took place one day before the release of her new video, “Rhythm in You.”


Gospel jazz balladeer Robert E. Person sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” This has been a very busy Robert.  He performed and headlined at Hard Rock Café in Memphis, THEARC Theatre Double Time Jazz Series, Blues Alley and other venues.


Roderick Giles and Grace came with their signature musical excellence. Each singer, under Gile’s astute direction poured themselves out in a medley of songs with riveting vocals that created a highly-charged atmosphere of praise. The dynamic group is featured on Bryan Andrew Wilson’s Billboard-charting radio single, “Overflow (Let Your Spirit).”




The Bridging the Gap conference is a great event that not only fosters communication between priests and levites, but encourages musical unity undergirded by a healthy application of the Word. It is also coupled with bestowing honor on those who have made lasting contributions to those who have made an indelible mark on gospel music in the DMV and beyond.

Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of, founded in 2011. The site was recently named among Feedspot's Top Gospel and Christian Music Websites.  Sarah is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Gospel Music Association.
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