I have been a member of First Presbyterian Church for the past 21 years. One of the first things that I noticed was the tremendous choir, that sang each Sunday morning. Not only was the singing melodious but the singers were made up of both young and old participants.
I remember enjoying seeing Dr. Alan Bennett and Dr. Don Darling…lifting their voice in beautiful hymns! Dr. Bennett had been MJ’s doctor and had delivered both of our sons.
Gwen King inspired me as a young woman who simply looked beatific as she sang, and she also, often, played the flute!
Within the group was John and Dorothy Baker. I had known John’s name from my early career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. John was the budget person for the campus and was highly respected. I recall his, welcoming, demeanor and his speaking with me for some time after our first service at the church.
Dorothy was my mentor, a few months later, when I joined the trustees/board of the church, and she was the chair of the body. Her kindness to me and interest in my success has stayed with me for these many years!
During the past several years we have had the blessing of welcoming students from both SIUC and John A. Logan College to our choir and have received a morale lift and the spirit of youth and vitality that is so special and necessary in any church!
Carlyn Zimmerman has been our choir director for the past 12 years. Carlyn is, simply, the consummate professional. Not only does she produce a heavenly sound from her choir’s members…but she has unparalleled people skills. People sing in our choir, often, because Carlyn is the director. Her kind and engaging personality generates an excitement about church music and singing and participation in one of the oldest of music forms…singing unto the Lord!
Kathy Manfredi’s many years of music education and her virtuoso piano playing…provides edification and encouragement and hope to our congregation…and her dedication is the finest that I have witnessed!
I have had the opportunity to hear Kathy speak regarding the history of hymns and church music and the value and blessing that it brings to us…and I have learned more than I did during my music classes in both grade school and high school…and university.
So, our choir is a, necessary component of our worship service…and it is a missionary outreach to our University and Junior College neighbors!