A year ago, Todd Heisler, a New York Times staff photographer who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for photography, and Susan Hartman, a journalist whose stories have been featured in The New York Times, Newsday, and The Christian Science Monitor collaborated on a photo essay about an extraordinary "prayer call" that unites members of the Ebenezer Assembly of God Church in the Bronx.
The prayer phone call, held at least twice a day, is a consolation for Assembly of God's members, many of whom are live-in healthcare aides who work for weeks at a time without going home to their Bronx neighborhoods. On their cell phones, singing prayers in Twi (the language most spoken in Ghana), they connect with their pastor, Benjamin Boakye, and each other.
Solace on the Line, extends their stories. The exhibition features Todd Heisler’s photos of congregants on cell phones at work in patient’s homes, sitting on Manhattan park benches as well as at a joyous church service that culminated in the christening of a baby girl. An accompanying video, A Higher Calling, follows the 6’ 4” Pastor Boakye in his storefront church. www.toddheisler.com.
Susan Hartman’s text details the lives of these congregants, and what the call means to them. Inspiration for the story came while she watched her mother’s live-in home health aide on a prayer call with Pastor Boakye, singing as she threaded beads into a necklace. www.susanhartman.net