'F' as in Frank

This choir's a keeper

I've interviewed governors, NFL head coaches, congressmen, senators and even a Hollywood actor or two.

But none of those are my top highlight so far as a reporter.

No, that would have been the Christmas concert this past Sunday afternoon by the newly formed Sunnyside Community Choir.

In a column that ran Dec. 28, 2005, I proposed "taking back" Christmas in a community choir format.

Didn't know at the time if there would be any takers. What I did know is that I could instigate and help, but someone else would have to direct the choir.

And, above all, God would have to be in charge if it was going to have a chance.

Though many of them were unable to end up singing in the community choir's Christmas program this past Sunday, there was a group of about six people who met earlier this spring to get things organized.

Without those six brave pace setters, the choir thing probably wouldn't have happened.

But they set the tone and provided a green light that, yes, there was interest.

Then there were the God-incidences along the choir road.

This summer I received an assignment to write a story on the new pastor in town, the Rev. Debora Jennings, who had just begun serving at Holy Trinity Episcopal in Sunnyside.

While interviewing Jennings, she told me she had six years experience in choral directing.

I did a double-take, remembering that our little band of singers was still leaderless.

When told of the choir in progress, she offered to help.

I filed that information away and when October rolled around I contacted Jennings and she said she was still interested in leading the choir.

So we set up a time for the first practice.

It proved to be a tough night schedule-wise, as Jennings was the only person at the practice.

So we set another practice night and then another, and so on.

The whole choir thing seemed to especially take off in the last month or so after the Episcopal church building was vandalized by burglars. God turning evil for good.

In November our numbers grew to 10, to 12, then to more than 20, representing a variety of beliefs, ages and backgrounds. A good spirit continues to prevail in the group, helping to put the unity in community.

All the while, Jennings arranged the music and scriptures and the choir practiced every Wednesday night.

Jennings suggested having folks donate something when they attended the concert, so we suggested that those attending bring a canned food item for the local food bank.

We weren't sure what to expect Sunday either in attendance or in food donations.

Turned out God blessed us with a total of 110 people in attendance for the concert. Those attending filled a grocery cart and three boxes with food items.

One of the cool things in all this is learning about the history of community choir in Sunnyside and being one small part of a movement to renew the Sunnyside Community Choir.

There is already talk of getting the choir back together for a performance during the Lent and/or Easter season.

Sounds like the choir is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. As the title of this column suggests, this choir appears to be a keeper.

I share all this because as a journalist, a citizen and a Christian (not necessarily in that order) one of my interests is to be involved in the community I cover.

In fact, I think that's something all newspaper guys and gals seek.

And what a humbling experience to see a few words in print help instigate a new choir for Sunnyside.

"Heaven and nature sing," went the words to the choir's last song this past Sunday.

The Sunnyside Community Choir enjoyed, and enjoys, the opportunity to sing right along with them.

Stay tuned, and stay in tune, because you're welcome to join us as we journey down this road God has for us.


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