IN THE SPIRIT: Men, women needed to stand up and sing!

There are sopranos among us who stand as close as possible to the altos to drink in the sound of their cooperative harmony. And speaking from decades of church choir experience, I can tell you it's a mighty fine thing to be situated right in fron...

Naomi Dunavan
Naomi Dunavan

There are sopranos among us who stand as close as possible to the altos to drink in the sound of their cooperative harmony.

And speaking from decades of church choir experience, I can tell you it's a mighty fine thing to be situated right in front of the tenors and basses. They produce one powerful combination of "joyful noise."

Sadly, some churches don't have enough singers for a choir. Other churches have the opposite dilemma -- plenty of singers and no director.

With such people in mind and for the second summer in a row, Amanda Presteng is organizing a Greater Grand Forks community church choir. Last year, this choir had 40 members from 12 different congregations. They gathered for four rehearsals and then gave a magnificent concert.

That's the plan for this summer as well.


Amanda is director of music ministries at Faith Evangelical Free Church, Grand Forks. "I have the best job in the world," she said, "and we've been trying to do more music outreach and to share our gifts outside our church. But I desire this to be an ecumenical thing, not an E. Free thing. I'm also hoping this event will be an outreach to those who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ."

The first rehearsal was held this week, and Amanda, the choir's accompanist, came away encouraged. "The participants who showed up did a great job of reading through the music," she said. "We really have quite a variety of musical styles and it was fun to hear the music come to life last year."

It is not too late to join the choir. Rehearsals are scheduled for 7 p.m. June 22, June 29 and July 6 in Faith Evangelical Free Church, 1400 24th Ave. S. The culminating concert is at 7 p.m. July 8 in the East Grand Forks Senior High School Performing Arts Center.

Men, consider this your personal invitation from Amanda to join the choir.

At the first rehearsal, "the biggest drawback was that we had a grand total of two men," Amanda said. "Yes, two. We definitely need to fill out those bass and tenor sections. It's not about the numbers, but it's helpful to have a balance of the parts."

The concert will consist of eight songs: one sung by the women alone, one by the men alone, then six with combined voices.

The men's number is "Rise Up, O Men of God," a wonderfully majestic song, "so we need men to rise up and sing," Amanda said.

The women's piece, "Kyrie," will be accompanied by a string quartet.


The combined voices will do:

"Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone"

"God's Faithfulness," which includes portions of the great hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness."

"Psalm 91," an a cappella piece.

"Psalm 62," written by Stuart Townend.

"Come People of the Risen King," by Townend and Keith and Kristyn Getty.

And, "Make My Heart Your Manger," which is intended as more of a Christmas song Amanda said, "but it's applicable year around."

Now, doesn't this sound enticing? Other than the a cappella piece, all songs will be accompanied by an orchestra.


With Amanda at the keyboard, where she's "most comfortable," Lorrie Hylden, Geri Beckman and Paul Boese will take turns directing the songs.

Don Piper is back in the choir again this year.

"I enjoyed it very much," he said. "It's a good way to reach out to people. I realize the power that music can have to touch people's lives. Many, many years ago, when I was 19, I was led to Christ through a song,"

Don told of a family tragedy. "My father, my brother and a sister were in a car that was hit by a train. My father and brother were killed, and during the funeral they sang, 'The Beautiful Garden of Prayer.' I had known about Christ for years. I had had knowledge of Christ, but that was the first time I had the heart knowledge and the heart change that led me to Christ. It was one of those feelings where I knew my life was changed forever at that moment. It was not during the sermon. It was during that song which I've already indicated will be sung at my funeral also."

Shirley Kieffer also is back for her second community choir experience. "I enjoy meeting people from other churches and singing under the direction of different directors," she said. "Having music from different genres makes it fun to learn."

Amanda works hard to organize the choir for two reasons: "I love the idea that people from a variety of churches are getting together to worship. That doesn't happen too often," she said. "And, I love using our gifts to minister outside our churches to the greater community."

If you have questions, call Amanda at (701) 772-3452 or e-mail apresteng@faith


The Herald publishes Naomi Dunavan's "In The Spirit" column the second Saturday of each month. Reach her at (218) 773-9521 or .

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