Mt. Vernon to showcase ‘What Happens When God is Glorified in Our Music’

Johnesha Harris, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 7/27/2017, 1:24 p.m.
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood will celebrate Annual Choir Month in August. This year’s theme is “What Happens When God is ...
The Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood Choir. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood will celebrate Annual Choir Month in August. This year’s theme is “What Happens When God is Glorified in our Music.”

Starting next week, the choir will be hosting weekly events, with each providing opportunities to salute choir members past and present.

The month of events will include:

  • Prayer Summit, August 5 at 9 a.m.

  • Reunion Choir Musical, August 6, 4 p.m.

  • Dinner Theater: “The Devil on Trial,” August 19, 7 p.m.

  • Annual Choir Day featuring the Tennessee Mass Choir, August 27, 4 p.m.

During a recent choir practice, members of the executive board detailed the month’s events and their expectations. Deener Newberry, a member of the choir for almost 37 years, helped put the month-long theme in context.

“Looking at this year’s theme that we have, I know that God loves music because he made it for us,” said Newberry, who helped create the Prayer Summit event in her role as prayer team coordinator.

“Just knowing that the atmosphere is so peaceful, that’s something he wants to hear and that is what will make this month epic; singing to him on one accord.”

The Reunion Choir Musical is envisioned as a showcase for the various voices that have sung to the glory of God from the church’s choir stand. Arverline Harper and Cherylene McKinney took on key roles, working together to reach out to past choir members.

Harper’s work with the church, which was organized in 1902, extends back to its days on Mississippi Boulevard, where it was anchored for 16 years before the move to its present location at 620 Parkrose Ave. in the Westwood community.

“I was asked if I could get a choir reunion together,” Harper said. “I stayed up until about 4 or 5 in the morning one night writing down about 500 names, all the people who once sang in our choir.

“With the help of my daughter and granddaughter, I sent out radio ads, small newspaper announcements and social media messages to reach as many people as we could. To my surprise people from Nashville, Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis and even California started sending us responses back.”

McKinney has been a part of the Mt. Vernon choir for nearly 20 years.

“This is a privilege God has given me,” she said. “It is an assignment to be obedient, serve him in this ministry and use my gifts and talents he has blessed me with. …

“This reunion is a service (during) which present and former choir members, musicians and directors will assemble and use their talents to worship God and serve him through music and minister to our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The Dinner Theater, which is hosted by the church’s choir and culinary team, was added to the annual choir month celebration last year. Patricia Kee will be directing the play “The Devil on Trial” written by Roosevelt Wright Jr.

The religious comedy takes place in a courtroom. The devil is on trial and jurors are those who have been wronged by his actions. Kee is looking to have those in the audience learn some Biblical facts and leave the performance thinking about whom they choose to serve – the devil or the Lord – after seeing the consequence of the Devil’s actions.

Music will accent several segments of the play. All of the actors are a part of Mt. Vernon’s Millennium Choir.

The month-long salute to the choir will end August 27 as Mt. Vernon celebrates Annual Choir Day, welcoming Grammy-nominated music producer Jason Clark & Tennessee Mass Choir for a 4 p.m. concert.

Rosemary Winters, a member of both the Mt. Vernon choir and Tennessee Mass Choir, is the Annual Choir Day Chairperson.

“Tennessee Mass Choir is a high energy vocal, powerfully gifted, versatile and spirited group of individuals,” Winters said in describing the special musical guests. “The group has been recognized as one of the finest, most respected and talented mass choirs in the entire country….”

The Tennessee Mass Choir has shared the stage/or recorded with notable artists such as Al Green, Dr. Bobby Jones, Tim Rogers and Fellas, Le Andria Johnson, Foreigner, St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Martina McBride.