Jamaica's Greater Allen AME Cathedral honored three of its longstanding members at a special Father's Day ceremony Sunday, including a TimesLedger photographer, a great-grandfather who has attended the church for more than 40 years and a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The church's Male Usher Ministry held its 10th annual Father's Day Dinner and Gospel Show at the cathedral's Merrick Boulevard site, gathering hundreds of members who turned out for food, musical and dance performances and a tribute to this year's three honorees.
TimesLedger photographer Nat Valentine, 74, a longtime member of the church who photographs many of the church's events for its quarterly magazine, said he was honored for the recognition at this year's ceremony.
"It's quite an honor," he said. "The church puts out a magazine which includes promotional information, so I take shots that can be included in it. I've been doing it for 18 years."
Valentine, who also received a plaque at the ceremony from a neighborhood women's club which honored him for his community service, said he has also taken part in the cathedral's dance and music ministries for years. He has also taken thousands of photos for TimesLedger Newspapers at southeast Queens news events.
He said he was also one of the church's first male liturgical dancers and now provides guidance for the church's younger dancers.
"I'm the guru that gives everyone spiritual advice," he said.
Valentine, born in the Bronx and raised in Jamaica, moved to Cambria Heights after marrying his wife, Rosalie, and raised five children. He retired from the U.S. Postal Service and now has three grandchildren.
Also honored during the ceremony were Lennon Kennedy, a longtime advocate for the church and great-grandfather, and William Samber, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen — America's first black Air Force squadron — who fought during World War II.
Arthur Kindred, a Manhattan resident formerly married to Kennedy's daughter, said the honoring of his former father-in-law is long overdue.
"He's been an outstanding citizen and a friend," he said. "He has helped so many people in this community with food, housing and education."
Minister Philip Craig, who acted as master of ceremonies, said the event celebrated fathers who have made a difference in the community.
"It's a beautiful thing," he said. "When you see everything going on with people not being fathers to their children and we have a room full of fathers here — it's a blessing in itself."
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@times
©2008 Community News Group
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