Youth Choirs Offer Unique Ministry Opportunities
As the TAC works to Invest in the Young, the young are investing their time and musical talents by sharing Christ inside and outside of the church walls.
With the growing number of extra curricular options and lures of new social media entertainment, churches find it more and more difficult to engage the hearts of young people. Many congregations are finding success in youth ministry by inviting all ages to participate in choirs – and featuring them in special events.
Educating All Ages About Black History Month
First UMC- College Station is discovering that when youngsters are on stage, the church pews fill quickly with family members, relatives and friends that come to see and hear them. “Our awesome musical programs draw crowds to church on a regular basis, as do the Sundays when the children’s choir leads Morning Worship Service with songs, praise, scripture reading and greeting once a month,” says Youth Coordinator Ann Cashaw. The First Church youth from preschool to high school put on a full program in February for Black History month, in Spring for Easter, in August as a back-to-school program, and a Christmas program and fellowship.
Having a vital children’s ministry is a path to becoming -- and staying --a vibrant congregation, according to Dr. Don Waddleton, Director of the TAC Center of Congregational Excellence. “I think it is noteworthy that FUMC-CS has approximately 125 adult members, and another 40-52 youth -- in the choir,” he adds. Dr. Waddleton enjoyed hearing the children sing while he was there as a special guest this month.
Ann credits the strong youth ministry to a great deal of togetherness. “Our secret is to keep the kids involved year-round and to build relationships. We have a tight-knit group because we rehearse often and, before we begin each rehearsal, we form a circle, open with a prayer and scripture. We discuss the scripture and take a moment to go around the circle to each individual and give them an opportunity to let us know what is going on with them and what they are thankful for.” Ann always gives thanks for her faithful helpers, Jackie Booker and Valerie Taylor who help schedule rehearsals, fundraisers and special events in the summer for the youth.
On February 10, the children and youth presented The History of Negro Spirituals and Quilt Pattern Codes Program to a packed worship center as an educational journey. “Most do not know the full story behind the song Amazing Grace, or the Negro Spiritual known as Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, and that understanding brings great meaning to our heritage,” says Ann. The program featured the children in solos, duets, special readings and combined singing. “As churches Invest in the Young, we encourage them to arrange their schedules and activities around the schedules of their young people to get even greater participation,” she adds.
Choral Scholars Sing at National Choral Directors Conference
Some churches pursue the Fine Arts by inviting students into an environment focused on development of their musical talents. For example, St. Paul’s UMC (Houston) Choral Scholars have been invited to perform at the 2013 American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) national conference this March in Dallas, attended by over 6,000 choral directors. The Choral Scholars will be the demonstration choir for a presentation by Mark Edenfield, St. Paul’s Choirmaster/Organist, and Eddie Quaid, Choral Scholars Director in a session presentation called “Promoting Choral Art in the Worship Community of Tomorrow: Providing Opportunities for High School Age Singers to Sing Quality Sacred Literature.”
This group is an auditioned choir of high school vocalists from throughout the greater Houston area who lead the church’s 9:45 a.m. worship services during the academic year. Recently, 11 of the 28 were selected into one of the Texas Music Educators Association 2013 All-State Choirs. Three preview concerts will be presented in Houston prior to the ACDA concert. These will be at First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main, on Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m.; Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, 6221 Main, on Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m. and at St. Paul’s, 5501 Main, on Thursday, March 14, at 7 p.m.
Concert repertoire will include the premier performance of an arrangement of Precious Lord, Take My Hand and selections they have sung during worship this past year:
· Spirit Moving Over Chao, a “chant-like” piece with improvisation to create a mystical performance,
· Heleluyan, a Muscogee/Creek Indian Halleluiah Hymn
· Verleih uns Frieden
· If Ye Love Me (This is a fresh new composition taking words from the Gospel of John.)
· A Spotless Rose
· Adam Lay Ybounden, a 15th-century macaronic English text Magnum Mysterium,
· Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord, a spiritual
Eddie Quaid says, “Presenting at the ACDA conference is a chance of a lifetime for the Scholars.” Additional information about the Choral Scholars program is available within the Music and Arts section of St. Paul’s Website.