Singing a New Song–Together

When we got to Holbrook a few months ago, Jeff discovered that there was no pastors’ association in town. On Guam, he valued his fellow pastors very much and appreciated their advice and their prayers. He wasn’t willing to forego that fellowship here, so he decided to start a pastors’ group.

We’d heard that previous relationships between the pastors of the various churches in town had been a little strained and maybe more than a little competitive. But as it turned out, several of the other pastors besides Jeff were newcomers, too, so they didn’t have any negative history, and they welcomed the chance to get together.

Jim Minnick, the pastor at First Baptist, loves music as much as Jeff does–and that’s saying something. At one of the meetings of the pastors’ group, the members (perhaps pushed by Jeff and Jim) decided that every month with a fifth Sunday should be the occasion to get the congregations together and simply sing. But would people come? Joint services here in town have a poor track record for attendance, so no one knew for sure.

Last  Sunday evening, the first of the singing events was held at the Baptist church. People began to come in about fifteen minutes before the announced time–and didn’t stop coming until the church was full. More than 150 participants from five churches decided to make a joyful noise together–a good crowd in a town of 5000!

Special music got the evening going. Jeff and Jim sang a duet. Pastor Jerry Keams played his guitar and sang in Navajo. A children’s group performed. A local prosecuting attorney, whom nobody suspected of any particular singing talent as far as I know, got up and sang a solo so movingly that people actually cried over it. Young and old singers called out their requests, and we sang everything from When the Roll is called up Yonder to Away in the Manger. What we lacked in pitch, we made up for in volume. The pastors promised the crowd that the event would end in an hour, and they hit it exactly.

And then the magic really started for me. We went to the fellowship hall for refreshments. Navajo grandmothers and Latino kids and every other stripe of person Holbrook can boast sat side by side at the refreshment tables and talked together over cookies and punch. Maybe this kind of mixing happens often in your community, but I haven’t seen it here as much. I thought of Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.”  We have Christ in common, if nothing else, and that’s something worth singing about!

 

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Karen Hager Ombrello on May 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    HELLO, MY FRIEND, HELLO—- (ONE OF MY FAVORITE SINGERS -NEIL DIAMOND SANG IT) —–

    SINCE MUSIC IS OUR THING, THIS SPEAKS VOLUMES TO ME. — YOUR EXPERIENCE WAS AWESOME AND BROUGHT ME TO TEARS IMAGINING THE ATMOSPHERE THERE.

    WONDERFUL!!.

    TELL JEFF HE’S DONE GREAT THINGS THERE IN SO SHORT A TIME. YOU TWO MUST BE PLEASED TO BE VESSELS USED THIS WAY.

    WE ARE GOING TO SEND YOU A DVD OF OUR CHRISTIAN CHORALE CONCERT– SOON. ( WE DID IT AT CHURCH ON THE SQUARE HERE — AS OUR GIFT TO THE COMMUNITY— ON THE DAY AFTER EASTER. SEVERAL IN THE GROUP ARE ALSO IN OUR CHURCH CHOIR.)
    WE ALWAYS HOPE THAT SOMEONE NEEDING TO HEAR THE MESSAGE WILL BE BLESSED WITH OUR CONCERT.
    MUSIC IS A WONDERFUL VEHICLE, ISN’T IT? “THOSE WHO SING PRAISES TO GOD, PRAY TWICE!”

    LOVE & BLESSINGS —
    KAREN & JIM

    Reply

    • Thanks for your nice comments, Karen! We love Holbrook and really enjoy community events. The local high school recently put on “Bye, Bye, Birdie,” which seemed like an odd choice for today’s teens, but which they did with high spirits and quite good musical ability as well. God didn’t see fit to bless me with much musical ability, but I enjoy listening. We’ll look forward to the DVD. M.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Karl S. on May 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I wish I were there for the Sing a New Song events! It brought back some memories of the Make a Joyful Noise sing-out that we had at Bayview Baptist church just a few months ago. You can always count on Pastor Jeff to get something going. He has such a talent for getting the groundwork going on a major project. In a year or two, I suspect this event may reach miles out from Holbrook and hundred of peoples will be flocking to it. Miss you guys and looking forward to visiting in August!

    Reply

    • Thanks, Karl. I know what you mean about Jeff getting things going! He certainly has that gift! Hope all is well with you. Looking forward to seeing you soon (relatively).

      Reply

  3. Posted by Pamela (Sersen) Kuehne on May 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Mary–what a beautiful story! I’m so glad to hear that God is bringing unity in. My hometown was a similar situation. It was almost impossible to get people together. So I imagine what the miracle would be like there as I read your post. God is good!

    Reply

    • Posted by Mary Johnson on May 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks, Pamela! I keep up with your travels a little bit on Facebook. So good to hear from you! I’m glad that you are back in Japan once again. I think you related better to Japan than most of the people who served there. If you are ever back in the US and traveloing on I-40, know that you have a place to stay!

      Reply

  4. Posted by Melody P. on May 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    What a blessing to have the privilege of starting an inter-church songfest and fellowship! Wish I could be there to be a part of it!! Looking forward to seeing you and Jeff in July! Melody

    Reply

    • You can come to Holbrook! They’re looking for help at the High School and we have a community college, too! Check it out when you come!

      Reply

  5. Posted by Wes on June 8, 2012 at 9:38 am

    What in the world are the Johnson’s doing in Arizona?! Seems like they are sharing God’d word. :0)

    Thank you for sharing your lives [still, after Guam!] and helping me to learn not only about your lives but mine as well.

    What is my place in this world? To be continued…

    Reply

  6. We all have the same job, Wes–that Great Commission! Like any great project, the general manager has given us separate tasks within it depending on our abilities, but if things are going properly, we are all vital parts of that undertaking, bringing the world to Christ. I’m preaching to remind myself as well as you, believe me. But this has been on my heart so much lately–more than when we were missionaries in PNG or on Guam. We know what the job is, and we know who to ask for our specific assignment. He’s faithful while we learn the ropes. And He reminds us that the work won’t go as well if we’re not doing our part. I like that!

    Reply

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