by Pam Tinsley
In the stillness of a lovely summer Saturday evening, an Episcopal church in the heart of the “none zone” was suddenly transformed when 42 high-school age singers lifted their voices in song. These Tacoma Youth Chorus choirs were sharing their gift of song with the local community before embarking on a two-week tour. They will soon share their song internationally in cathedrals in France and Germany and then at Canterbury Cathedral in the UK.
As the exquisite voices of these young women and men filled the church, the hearts of the audience were profoundly moved. My husband and I sat enchanted for over an hour as we listened to arrangements of sacred and secular music. For some arrangements the singers surrounded us, their voices blending sweetly behind and above us. At times our experience was almost transcendent, and by the concert’s end we felt renewed, even transformed.
We had been ministered to by these singers standing before the altar, beneath a large cross that was suspended from the ceiling. I’d imagine, however, that the choirs would be shocked to hear me refer to their singing as a ministry. Many of these young people have never attended church, and most probably don’t now. And although the music program directors and tour chaperones are churched (though not all are active church-goers), their embrace of Christian values – caring, encouragement, compassion, selflessness, serving and seeking the best in others – has transformed the lives of these young people in countless ways. Not only have the singers developed a lifelong passion for music and learned the value of respect and hard work while having fun, they have developed deep friendships and have also inspired those around them by sharing their song – their singing and themselves.
And these young musicians will continue to share their song by passing this gift along to future generations. Five of the six chaperones are millennials, four of whom are TYC – and European tour – alums. Sharing the song that transformed their lives will in this way touch the lives of future children and grandchildren. This beauty will certainly live on!
Yes, this is ministry in daily life!