Today, Gerald and I drove out to Rockvale, about an hour from our place, to sing at Jackson Ridge Community Church. They were having a Homecoming, and I was one of the 'groups' on the bill.
The church is way out in the country, and the setting is beautiful - clear fields broken by clusters of trees. This congregation has only been there for a few months, but the church itself was built in the 1880's. The pews were handmade and they're gorgeous. No ornamentation, but built from thick rough planks of wood, smoothed over time by generations of worshipers.
The congregation gathered after their morning service for 'dinner on the grounds'. Most people actually tried to escape the heat by sitting inside, but it was a gorgeous day, so we ate under a tent. The whole thing reminded me of being at a church in Botwood - everybody knew each other, and there was enough food to feed twice as many people for two days.
At 2pm, we all filed into the church for the 'singing' part of the homecoming. There were 3 of us on the program - Encounter (a trio managed by JMA), me, and Forever Changed (a 6-person local group). We each did 2 sets - a 25 minute and a 15 minute. I mostly did songs from Real Big Fan, but Gerald also accompanied me on 2 songs. I think the shift in dynamic really worked well.
This was my first 'homecoming' performance, so I really didn't know what to expect. The congregation seemed to like the traditional songs, and I was worried that my music might not be well received. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. The songs got rave reviews, and the biggest hit of the day - "Real Big Fan"! We had people coming up to the product table asking for it, and one gentleman felt so connected to the song he even shared part of his testimony with us.
It was a long afternoon, but a great one. Musically, I think the day was a success for everyone. Gerald and I felt that we got to connect with a lot of different people in the congregation, and that was wonderful. I knew I was in with kids when they invited me over to see the frog they'd found.
Partway through the program, I felt this wonderful feeling and thought, "This is what it's going to be - just singing and meeting people and trying to spread the message." I just feel so blessed that doors are opening for me, and I continue to pray for the courage to keep stepping through those doors...