|‘Singing angels’ share gifts with church|
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
May 1, 2009
I have often thought the worship service should end after the
soloist sings. The pastor should just say “Amen” and thank the Lord for
the blessing everyone just received through a beautiful voice
expressing inspired words of praise.
You know, just stop while you’re ahead.
There are more than 34,000 United Methodist churches in the United
States and in each one is at least one singer whose voice pierces the
hearts of the faithful most Sundays. The talents vary but the passion
is the same.
Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old single person bullied most of her life,
stepped out in front of an unfriendly audience on “Britain’s Got
Talent” and bared her soul. The result was the shaming of a hostile
audience who first judged her on her looks before she had a chance to
share her gifts.
The lesson she taught us was to wait, don’t be so quick to judge, we
are all God’s children blessed with gifts and talents. Her sudden fame
seems like a good time to pause and appreciate those faithful and
talented souls who are singing their hearts out for United Methodist
congregations every week.
A choir from Christ United Methodist Church, Baltimore, Md., sings
during worship celebration at the 2008 General Conference in Fort
A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.
What Boyle did took courage and a belief in herself. How many
soloists, choirs, or musicians look out at a congregation and see
unfriendly or unappreciative audiences?
It’s church but it’s not always so nice. There are still many lessons to be learned.
United Methodist News Service sent out a call to Annual (regional)
Conference communicators asking for some names of “terrific voices”
that deserved to be heard by a larger audience. Five nominated singers
are being profiled in a special report that will include photos, video
William Suggs, 35, was born profoundly deaf. As a
teenager, he started losing his sight and eventually he will be totally
blind. He has a gift for interpreting songs he can neither see nor hear
through sign language.
Enrique Sanchez-Jeffery is a 28-year-old classically
trained musician who once considered becoming an opera singer and has
sung with gospel superstar Kirk Franklin. But he chose God because, he
believes, God chose him.
The Mass Choir, comprising gifted
singers from around the globe, sings
at the 2004 United Methodist General Conference in Pittsburgh. A UMNS
photo by Mike DuBose.
The Rev. Charlene Harris Allen lost her voice when
she was 18 and a singer in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Years later she
regained her voice and with the encouragement of church leaders started
sharing her gift again. Her success in ministering to others through
song led her to go to seminary in her 40s.
Greta Oglesby is a successful professional performer
whose career has been guided by the gospel songs she learned as a child
in her father’s church. “God orders my steps,” she says.
Fran Wilson taught himself to read music when he was
in elementary school and music has been “his life.” “He sings with such
joy on his face—a reflection of his assurance and faith in the abundant
life we have in Jesus,” says the Rev. Michelle Reed, his pastor.
There are countless others. If you know one, tell them what their gift brings to your life.
As a person who can “make a joyful noise” but not a voice anyone would
want to hear, I greatly admire the holy singers who stir our spirits
Blessings to you all.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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Board of Discipleship