September 8, 2021
Pastor Randall Wilkens
Pastor of Worship and the Arts
There are many things I’ve enjoyed during my 15 years as a pastor at Bethany Covenant Church, but I want to share about one real bright spot for me—our choir! I’ve sung in and directed church choirs pretty much all my life, and they’ve all been wonderful. But I had no idea when I accepted the call to Bethany in 2006 that I would be taking on one of the finest church choirs between Seattle and Vancouver.
If you think that means we have a choir full of trained singers, you would be mistaken! True, there are a few who are strong musicians, who can easily sight-read the music in front of them. But most of our choir members are people probably just like you, who love to sing but have no idea what those black dots and lines on the page mean. Each week I pound out those notes on the piano. As we continue practicing, those who are unsure listen to more confident singers around them. And eventually it all comes together, as we make a joyful noise to the Lord.
Over the years, our choir has taken on some significant challenges. In 2016-17 we did all of Handel’s Messiah in a series of three concerts. We’ve done the Rutter Gloria and The Many Moods of Christmas each twice. We’ve sung in Latin, Spanish, Swedish, Zulu, Xhosa, French, and German. We’ve sung Baroque pieces, American gospel anthems, and contemporary worship songs. And way before I came, the choir was already a mainstay in our annual Christmas Musical—our church’s gift to the community for many decades now.
Our choir faced probably its biggest challenge ever during the past year and a half, as the pandemic forced us to suspend in-person rehearsals for a while. During this time we also lost quite a few choir members who decided to attend elsewhere, as our nation—and sadly Christians—became more and more polarized. We deeply grieve the loss of these friends from among us. But amid this loss and all these challenges, a core of dedicated choir members constantly remained faithful. They showed up to online rehearsals every week, even though Zoom rehearsals are pretty much impossible for choral singing! And for song after song, they recorded videos of themselves—enduring challenges of technology and the awkwardness of singing alone—so we could keep our choir together on screen.
And now that we are once again singing in-person, it’s clear that these challenges have borne good fruit. We may be a smaller choir than we were before, but we are also stronger in significant ways. People sing out because they’ve learned they can rely on their voices. And I know I can rely on this core of wonderful people to be committed—that is such a gift! I’ve said many times that the Bethany Choir are my heroes in this pandemic. And I mean it!
There’s always room for yet another hero in our choir! If you love to sing, consider joining this amazing community of believers who sings together, fellowships together, and prays together every week. We’d love to have you join us!
Pastor Randall Wilkens