NEWTON TWP. — Baptist. Catholic. Methodist. Presbyterian. These and other labels will fade to the background when people from 16 different Abington area faith communities join together as one Christian body at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21 for “Holy Hootenanny!” a musical observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The concert, featuring the combined choirs and voices of the Abington Ecumenical Ministerium, will be held at Saint Benedict’s Church, 1849 Newton-Ransom Blvd.
According to Msgr. Joseph Quinn, pastor of Our Lady of the Snows and St. Benedict’s Church, the ministerium has been celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with various events for more than 50 years, but the concert is a new venture.
“The thought was, maybe we could do something new to underscore that there’s more that unites us than divides us,” he said, adding that music, as a “universal language” has the power to “lift up hearts” and “underscore joy.”
Quinn is one of three pastors who plan to use their talents for playing musical instruments during the event. He and Rev. Bill Carter, of the First Presbyterian Church, both plan to play the piano and Rev. Mark Terwilliger, of Countryside Community church plans to play the bass guitar.
“We’re excited to have the music ministries of the churches come together in a time of sharing,” Terwilliger said. “You not only get to see your fellow community members, but you get to share in a very worshipful experience with other ensembles besides your own.”
The faith communities that make up ministerium include Church of the Epiphany, Church of Saint Gregory, Clarks Green United Methodist Church, Clarks Green Assembly of God, Clarks Summit United Methodist Church, Countryside Community Church, Dalton United Methodist Church, Factoryville United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of Factoryville, First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, Free Methodist Church of the Abingtons, Our Lady of the Abingtons, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Trinity Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church of Chinchilla and Waverly United Methodist Church.
Seven of these have their own choirs, each of which will perform two numbers during the concert, and all of which will join together as one large choir for the opening and closing songs.
Quinn described it as a “whole host of a wonderful, unified congregation singing.”
“And that’s a stronger message than any one of us could preach,” he said.
The others agree.
“What excites me, is that this is an ecumenical gathering,” Carter said. “It signals that we don’t always sing the same notes, but we can sing in harmony. …Friendships transcend church differences. And so, when an organization like this puts its first premium on friendships, harmony grows from there.”
“It’s like a family reunion, with all these different households coming together,” Terwilliger added.