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Sharing an abundance of Presbyterian musical gifts

Presbyterian Giving Catalog’s virtual concert series concludes Saturday with the eclectic ‘Mission Musicians’

by Emily Enders Odom, Mission Engagement & Support | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Michael Maasen via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — When William McConnell began recruiting artists for a new musical ensemble he affectionately dubbed the Mission Musicians, he took the familiar words of 1 Corinthians 12 to heart.

“’Now there are varieties of gifts,’” he thought, “and my Presbyterian colleagues and friends clearly have them in abundance.”

McConnell, who is the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Mission Engagement Advisor for the Central Region, also happens to be a professional church musician and accomplished keyboardist. Proudly wearing all of those hats, when McConnell was asked to program the final concert of the Presbyterian Giving Catalog’s 2021 “Summer of Song” series, he went straight to his mission-minded friends, who similarly have diverse musical gifts.

“All of the musicians I invited to take part in our August 21 concert are people who have been working together to share music for the PC(USA) during the past year and a half of COVID,” said McConnell. “Since most of us work for, or have close connections to the agencies of the Church, we gladly provided music for two Easter services, a Matthew 25 worship service at Thanksgiving, and Lessons and Carols at Christmas 2020, to name just a few. The selections that we chose to celebrate the spirit of the Presbyterian Giving Catalog this summer are pieces we each enjoy that may or may not have been included in the worship services or other PC(USA) events.”

Mondre Moffett is among the musicians who will  participate in Saturday’s “Summer of Song” series. (Contributed photo)

In addition to McConnell, a ruling elder at Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, who will serve as both accompanist and a solo performer, the following artists will be featured on Aug. 21:

  • Gillian Hollis, a Louisville-based soprano, will sing three pieces representing several musical styles. Hollis, who has deep connections to the work of Presbyterian Mission, particularly Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, is an accomplished singer in the classical and opera genres. Recently she has expanded her work to include folk, pop, and musical theater styles.
  • Alonzo Johnson and Mercy Kajo Evanson will be performing two selections on Djembe. Johnson, an ordained teaching elder in the PC(USA), serves as coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People. Evanson is a third-year student at the University of Kentucky as well as a ruling elder at Beechmont Presbyterian Church in Louisville.
  • David Gambrell, a tenor and dulcimer player, will perform two pieces. An ordained PC(USA) teaching elder, Gambrell is associate for Worship in the PC(USA)’s Office of Theology and Worship, the co-editor of the Church’s 2018 “Book of Common Worship” and the author of several hymns in the Glory to God hymnal.
  • So Jung Kim is a theologian with a doctorate in Theology from the University of Chicago. She is sharing her gift of the everyday voice by singing a Korean hymn. She conducts the ministry of Everyday God-talk as an associate for Theology at the PMA.
  • Warren Broome, piano, will accompany several of the performers. Broome, music director at Springdale Presbyterian Church in Louisville, was previously the longtime music director and organist of both Riviera Presbyterian Church in Miami, and Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach. He has extensive experience in leading music in traditional, contemporary, and “blended” services that feature a combination of praise, global, contemporary and traditional sacred music.
  • Mondre Moffett, trumpet, having played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1995-2000, will play a signature piece by Ellington. Moffett is a prolific composer, arranger, trumpeter, and educator. He is currently a professor of Music at Simmons College of Kentucky in Louisville and a former jazz ensemble director and lecturer in Black Music studies at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C.
  • Carter Anderson II, baritone, a Louisville-based Presbyterian musician, will sing the closing selection. Anderson, who makes his living as an IT professional, is deeply connected to Presbyterian Mission through his singing, his active participation at Peace Presbyterian Church in Louisville, and through connections with the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Now in its seventh year, the increasingly popular Presbyterian Giving Catalog — which is available both in print and online as well as for immediate download in Spanish and Korean — is filled with a wide variety of gifts that provide real and positive impact around the world, including aid for refugees, access to clean water and ways to end hunger.

Designed as a way of thanking the Giving Catalog’s faithful supporters, the three-part, virtual concert series has sought to bring together friends of the Giving Catalog, Presbyterians and others to joyfully experience their shared love of music, especially the feeling of togetherness that is engendered — and has been deeply missed during the pandemic — when people come together in song.

Baritone Carter Anderson II will offer the evening’s closing selection. (Contributed photo)

The Giving Catalog’s summer concert series, which debuted on June 21 with a performance by Elizabeth Stockton Perkins and continued on July 21 with a concert by the Stillman College Choir, will conclude with the Mission Musicians at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, Aug. 21.

As with the June and July concerts, the final premiere will be available live to Giving Catalog donors and to groups who plan to hold viewing parties on Aug. 21. Congregations interested in scheduling a watch party are invited to email for details.

Anyone who has made a gift through the Giving Catalog in June, July or August will automatically receive links to view all three concerts, since once a concert has premiered, it will continue to be available to donors and watch party groups to view online for the remainder of the summer.

“Each of our colleagues has so graciously accepted the opportunity to share their musical gifts in celebration of Presbyterian generosity,” said Lauren W. Rogers, project manager for Digital Fundraising, Special Offerings and the Presbyterian Giving Catalog. “We’re excited for everyone to hear the pieces they have chosen for this concert!”

For McConnell, his choice of “It Is Well with My Soul” was an easy decision.

“I remember playing this classic hymn at the funeral of a favorite aunt, the widow of a Presbyterian pastor,” he recalled. “As we move forward in faith, beyond the present pandemic, its comforting message speaks volumes.”

Now is the time to unite with thousands of others using the Presbyterian Giving Catalog to support the ministries closest to their hearts: feeding the hungry, comforting the brokenhearted and sharing our faith with young and old. Give today by clicking here

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