Go tell his disciples and Peter. Mark 16:7.
Go tell his disciples, and Peter! Jesus calls Peter by name even though Peter had denied Him three times. That is the purest example of God’s grace. Go tell his disciples, and Peyton. Go tell his disciples, and Charlie. Go tell his disciples, and Emma. Jesus calls us each by name, and we all have been given the gift of grace.
For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, this is not a gift from ourselves, but the gift from God. Ephesians 2:8
The Mt. Bethel Voice of Truth youth choir is a choir made up of students from grades 6-12 who use their voices to give praise to His name. Every summer, the Voice of Truth goes on a choir tour to spread His praises to whoever will listen, and they spend their week traveling to different churches and retirement homes, worshiping with those around them. It’s not singing though, because, “We truly worship while we are singing, and we invite those around us to join us,” says Maci Panariello, a junior. Senior Sadie Moxley believes that, “Tour encourages us to use the gifts God has given to us to praise Him and spread his word.” Every year, their tour has a different theme; this year, the theme of our tour was “Mystery Tour.” A mystery tour may sound a little strange, and it was exactly that. The students had no idea where they were going until they arrived.
We started our tour in Louisville, Kentucky, singing for Wesley Manor retirement home. At Christ Church UMC, the students drew a name of someone in the choir. This name would be someone who they would get to know throughout the week and present what they learned on the last day. We then went up to Chicago, Illinois, and performed at Hinsdale UMC. On day three, we toured the city of Chicago, visiting Millennium Park and the Navy Pier. From Chicago, we went to a small town called Normal, Illinois, where we sang for the Westminster Village retirement home but we were not allowed to share our message. However, the Holy Spirit could still be felt there as the choir could not spare any more power in their praise. On day five, went down to St. Louis, Missouri, and exhausted ourselves in the City Museum. We then performed at Centenary UMC, where the congregation was very welcoming and excited for our arrival. The next day was spent at Busch Stadium with a St. Louis Cardinals game and a tour of the Gateway Arch. Making our final stop in Nashville, Tennessee, we spent the day at the Gaylord Opry and Mall, before preforming at Pennington UMC, where their congregation was very enthusiastic at our arrival. Finally, we returned to Marietta, Georgia. Here we wished the seniors goodbye and shared what we found out about the person we drew. On Sunday, we concluded the tour by leading a homecoming service in our own sanctuary, sharing as much power and praise in this service as all the others combined.
Although Choir Tour seems to be just a bus of kids traveling around the country for a week, it’s much more than that. Yes, we are traveling around in a bus for a week, but in that week, we connect on a deeper level than we could with just an hour every Sunday evening. On tour we are tasked with learning about one person, but we can’t help but learn about everyone else along the way. The choir is a community that gathers in order to give praise, and in this gathering, social barriers seem to be broken down. Even the typical barriers that you would think of are almost not present. As Anna Grace Birley, a senior this tour, said, “There is no divide between the older and the younger kids.” Even the gender divide is nonexistent, as friendships are drawn like bridges across mighty rivers. It’s the same with our interests. We all are interested in different things, have different passions, but we all have a common love for music that brings us together. “Choir brings together more than just people who love music,” said Peyton Shirley, a senior. “It gives us the opportunity to form relationships we may not otherwise have with people who love the Lord.”
And that is what’s beautiful about choir. It’s not the fact that we’re all different and getting along, it’s the fact that we are doing more than that. As freshman Elise Johnson beautifully put it, “We may get on each other’s nerves at some point, but at the end of the day we are a family that loves each other.”