Standing room only
“Now I know what heaven is like,” marveled Pastor Kate Crecelius of Unity Lutheran Church in Hickory. Sunday, March 4, saw Unity and Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church in Hickory partnering to host a benefit for Safe Harbor ministries with a standing-room-only performance by Lenoir-Rhyne University’s (LRU) A Cappella Choir, directed by Dr. Ryan Luhrs and Lenoir-Rhyne’s Brass Ensemble, directed by D. Christopher Nigrelli.
So many hands from different organizations in the Bethlehem/Hickory communities combined their skills, talents, and resources, to make this event the success that it was. Pastor Mike, as he is fondly known by the Mt. Pisgah Lutheran church family, stated, “It was a beautiful partnership between two churches and both music and arts combined with a meaningful outreach mission to Safe Harbor Ministries. It was all I had envisioned in every way.”
Susan Lydick Greene, a spokesperson for Mt. Pisgah explained, “I watched tears rolling down faces in the audience as the choir sang “Lord, God, You Have Called Your Servants” (by J. Aaron McDermid) and “Here I Am, Lord” (by Daniel L. Schutte). It truly sounded as if the angels in heaven had come to serenade us personally. The talent involved blended with the acoustics of the church to create a performance of the purest sound.”
Mt. Pisgah and Unity Lutheran Churches, joined together in cooperation with Lenoir-Rhyne University, to celebrate the joy found in sharing the gifts of music, art, and the testimony of a life journey, with a program to benefit Outreach Ministry, Safe Harbor, the public was invited to attend the 3:00 p.m. program and by 2:45 p.m. additional seating was being put into place to accommodate the larger than expected crowd of approximately 300.
Prior to the concert, Pastor Kate had declared, “This event celebrates God’s work in the world through the arts. We’re incredibly grateful and excited to host LRU’s Music and Art departments to promote awareness of, and support, the work and mission of Safe Harbor. This concert is the result of many people coming together from across the city, and is the vision of Pastor Mike Stone, of Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church, who reached out to us. We all belong to each other, and we can make the world a more beautiful place, only when we work together.”
Dr. Chris Nigrelli added, “It was inspiring for our students to perform for such a large and enthusiastic audience. And, to lend our talents towards supporting such a worthy and important cause as Safe Harbor Ministries is very rewarding. I am grateful to Pastors Stone and Crecelius for their leadership in bringing these series of programs to fruition.”
Coupled with the musical performance, student artists from Lenoir-Rhyne’s Visual Arts Program, under the direction of Claire L. Pope, MFA, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Fine Arts, presented artwork created with messages of hope, which was displayed at a reception following the performance.
Exceeding projections, nearly $3,000 dollars was raised for Safe Harbor through a free-will offering. Safe Harbor ministries exist to create a Christ-centered community where women can work to rebuild their lives—devastated through situations caused by poverty, homelessness and/or addiction—through immediate and long-term programs. Safe Harbor receives a substantial part of their funding from churches, businesses, individuals, and events like this. For more information on Safe Harbor, visit their website.
Jackie McKool, Development Director for Safe Harbor, offers her thoughts on the event: “What an impressive group of young adults from Lenoir-Rhyne that performed yesterday! The art presentations also were impressively emotional. I was totally overwhelmed at the quick generosity of the audience as well with their financial support of Safe Harbor—I was blown away! I expected maybe several hundred dollars, but instead, a love offering of almost $3,000 was raised!! It just continues to confirm my observations of this community – GENEROUS!”
Emotions were riding high at the conclusion of the performances, which finished with an extended standing ovation. Surprising everyone, an unknown guest extended the performance by shouting from the seats, “Today has been a day of grace! Can you sing it?” As the choir nodded the affirmative, they added one additional song “O Day Full of Grace,” (arr. F. Melius Christiansen) and the concert ended with another standing ovation. A day of Grace indeed.
The next event in this series will be held October 21. For more information about Unity Evangelical Lutheran Church, please call Unity Lutheran Church at 828.324.1533 or visit their website. The Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church family warmly welcomes all. For directions and further information, please call the church at 828.495.8251; visit their website or the Facebook page at Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church ELCA.
—Written by Susan Lydick Greene.