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Upcoming Bethesda performances raise money for vandalized historic Black church

Half of the profits from two holiday National Philharmonic's Messiah performances will be donated to the restoration of the Potomac church.

BETHESDA, Md. — A Bethesda orchestra is using its talents to help raise money for a local church's restoration efforts.

The performances, which will take place at The Music Center at Strathmore - on the grounds of a historic Bethesda mansion - give the public an opportunity to experience the arts with The National Philharmonic while supporting a good cause.

Police are still on the lookout for those responsible for the Friday, Nov. 25 incident that happened at the Scotland African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church on Seven Locks Road. 

The church was already in the process of fundraising for a renovation after the historic building was damaged by flooding in 2019; the incident that sparked National Philharmonic's money-raising efforts for the church, which were announced Nov. 17. 

WATCH: Surveillance video shows suspects in church burglary

The National Philharmonic will present three performances of German-British composer George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, which is one of the best-known choral works written by Handel in 1741 as an Easter offering, now often performed at Christmastime.

The performance is aimed at bringing, "renewed social relevance, commentary, and philanthropy to an annual holiday tradition," according to the orchestra, and will be conducted by Stan Engebretson. The program features a cast of Black singers alongside the National Philharmonic Chorale. 

The performances will take place on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. at Strathmore to benefit the church. There will also be a third performance on Friday, Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Capital One Hall. 

Tickets are currently on sale at nationalphilharmonic.org.

National Philharmonic will also welcome Scotland AME Zion Mass Choir and its director Michael Terry for a pre-concert set on the Strathmore dates only (Dec. 17 and 18). Patrons are encouraged to attend the free performance, which will start one hour prior to the Messiah in the venue’s lobby area

According to the church's website, AME Zion Church was built by hand and opened in 1924 by Black congregants in Potomac. 

"Registered as a State Historic Site by the Maryland Historical Trust, today the church is the only historic building to survive in the Scotland community. It is a site of struggle, triumph, and resiliency that deserves to be celebrated and supported," the website states.

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