For many years, Providence Baptist Church has participated in Festival by the Sea, an ecumenical youth choir festival sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and participating churches.  I, too, participated with this festival before coming to Providence, not only taking choirs, but assisting in the planning and execution of the event for many years.  So, you can imagine the shock when I shared with our students that we would NOT be attending this year.

While Festival by the Sea will continue on this year, celebrating its 20th anniversary, Providence Baptist Church has been invited to host the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s youth choir festival.  As we seek to be leaders in our own “denominetwork,” we see this as an honor and privilege too important to pass up.  On the weekend of March 8-10, students, chaperones and leaders from around our state and area will gather together at Providence for a time of singing, learning and fellowship.  While attendance many not rival that of larger choir festivals, we hope to engage in meaningful music and worship – moving students to use their gifts for the glory God!

Our guest clinician for the event will be G. Phillip Shoultz, III.  Dr. Shoultz is associate conductor and director of learning, engagement, and community programs at VocalEssence—a Minneapolis-based group with decades of history as one of the world’s premier choral music organizations.  In addition to his work with VocalEssence, he serves as director of music, worship, and the arts for Good Samaritan United Methodist Church and frequently appears throughout the U.S. as a guest clinician, adjudicator, and consultant.  We are delighted to have Dr. Shoultz join us, as well as members of his own youth choir who will be traveling from Minnesota to the festival at Providence.

As we prepare to serve as host and leaders this month, I am reminded of Psalm 96.  This worship psalm invites us to “sing to the LORD a new song.”  Sometimes, God asks us to celebrate and worship in new ways.  At times, that might mean learning new music for a cherished festival, and at other times, it may mean attending a new festival altogether.  Regardless, we come to both places with a shared vision, to give God glory and honor, and to seek the Kingdom of God.  I pray our efforts will enable us to share the psalmist’s vision to “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples … For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise.”