PAM CLIFTON, Contributing Writer
Sunday is the last chance to catch the final summer performance by the Mineral Area Gospel Singers.
This group is part of Mineral Area Gospel Sound, a collective of ensembles which also includes the Mineral Area Handbell Ringers. The group is part of the Mineral Area Fine Arts Academy.
“Night of Worship” takes place Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church-Bonne Terre, located at 41 East School Street. The event is free and open to the community. (A love offering will be taken.)
This event features 16 singers who will lead in worship.
Director Isaac Hallock said many people have asked him about the type of music the singers will perform.
“I always respond with a chuckle and say, ‘Isn’t it obvious? Gospel music,’” he said. “But gospel music tends to mean something different to everyone.”
Hallock defines gospel music as “if it has a biblical or gospel-centered message, then it fits.”
He said his opinion is that the music may be southern gospel, bluegrass, spirituals, chant, early church music or even today’s most contemporary worship music.
“If it is biblically grounded and shares the truths in God’s word, then it is possible that we will be singing it,” he said.
Hallock explained how the music for the Aug. 13 event is geared specifically around the gospel message “that Jesus saves. We will start off the evening with humbled hearts and minds as we sing a declaration, ‘Lord we come to you. Oh Holy Spirit come and meet with us.’ Then we move into more songs that declare the goodness of the Lord and how great it is to be in his presence.”
According to Hallock, the event then shifts into a more introspective time in which the audience “will hear how God delivers the broken, the downhearted, those struggling with fear and loneliness, etc., which leads us to a joyous and rousing ending as we celebrate the resurrection message of Jesus Christ and the hope of his return.”
This concert ends the summer session for this MAFAA group.
Hallock said the singers are already looking forward to a busy fall session, which begins Aug. 21 from 7-9 p.m.
The handbell ringers also resume Aug. 21 from 5:30-7 p.m. There is a special technique class offered and starts on the same day, from 4-5 p.m. This special class is intended for those who would like to learn how to ring handbells.
All three classes are held at First Baptist Church-Farmington.
Hallock said MAFAA’s Fall Sessions 1 and 2 are going to be very busy, especially for the Mineral Area Gospel Singers. They have three large performances in the fall.
The first concert, a presentation of numerous choral anthems and a few repeats of favorites, is Oct. 15 at First Freewill Baptist Church in Farmington.
The following week on Oct. 24, the group performs in a combined concert with help from Mineral Area Council on the Arts to present selections from the “Prince of Egypt.” There are four large choral anthems, a handful of instrumental selections, and several solos and duets. All of the music will be performed in a concert style with the assistance of select scenes from the movie.
The group will also perform an intimate Christmas concert for the Mineral Area Baptist Association’s annual pastors’ and wives’ Christmas banquet.
“The fall sessions will end with our very own Christmas celebration later in December,” said Hallock.
He said anyone is welcome to join the gospel choir. Age requirements are high school through adult unless there is a middle school child who joins a parent in the choir.
The handbell choir is also looking to add more skilled ringers.
Hallock said he’s hoping to add a men’s ensemble and possibly a youth ensemble during MAFAA’s Fall 2023 sessions.
For more information about either group, contact Hallock at 618-593-3368.
Pam Clifton is a contributing writer whose work often appears in Missouri Life magazine.