Christmas community sing tonight at First Baptist

Sunday, December 4, 2011
Becky Gentry directs the First Baptist Church choir as they rehearse for the Christmas Community Praise Sing scheduled for today in Cape Girardeau. (Kristin Eberts)

While gifts, special meals and parties are all part of the holiday season, few things compare to singing and listening to Christmas songs at church or other gatherings. Today at 4 p.m. the songs of the season will be heard at First Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau with the Christmas Community Praise Sing.

In October 2006, the first community sing at First Baptist was held. Choirs and music groups from First Baptist, Abbey Road Christian Church, Maple United Methodist Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church all joined together for a night of inspirational singing.

The following year, according to event organizer and First Baptist music minister Rebecca Gentry, the performance turned into a Christmas event.

Becky Gentry, left, directs the First Baptist Church choir as they rehearse for the Christmas Community Praise Sing scheduled for December 4 in Cape Girardeau. (Kristin Eberts)

"We enjoyed it so much in October that we said, 'Wouldn't it be great to hear Christmas music?' So many times we practice and practice and we only present it one time. So it's nice to be able to share with other churches and hear their presentations also," Gentry said.

In addition to the music selections from each choir, other groups from the four churches, including a ladies ensemble and an acoustic group, will also perform.

Gentry said each year attendance for the event has grown. Last year she said about 150 people attended.

Bringing people together

The idea for a community sing is one Gentry started when her family moved to Cape Girardeau from Alabama.

"When we were in Alabama the church association had a similar type of thing, not at Christmas but more in the spring," Gentry said. "And it was so nice to see the other church people and to visit together and hear the different kinds of music that churches like to do."

The Rev. Mike Shupert, senior pastor at First Baptist Church, also noted what a special event the community sing is.

"This event is a highlight of our Advent season," Shupert said. "First Baptist Church enjoys hosting the other churches and hearing from all the choirs and groups. It gives us a chance to meet new people and renew community acquaintances. Music, especially the music of Christmas, has a way of bringing us together."

This will be the third year for First Baptist choir member Keith Kyle to participate in the community sing. Kyle, who is a music educator and band director at Kelly High School, said singing with other believers, especially during the Christmas season, is a blessing.

Becky Gentry, center, is the director of the First Baptist Church choir, which is hosting the Christmas Community Praise Sing today in Cape Girardeau.

"It warms my heart to lift my voice with fellow Christians from our great city at this festive time of year as we all celebrate the birth of our Savior," Kyle said. "No matter our theology, we can all agree that one theme bears heralding to all, that is, the great love of a God who would send his only son as a comfort for us all."

Following the performance, there will be a soup and sandwich fellowship opportunity at the church.

Gentry said more churches are welcome to join in next year's community sing. For more information on the event or how your church choir or music group can participate, call the First Baptist Church office at 335-6006.


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