November 30, 2012 10:06:08 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Organizers hope a new holiday tradition takes root Saturday, with the debut of "A Christmas for Columbus," a benefit concert by the combined choirs of First United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church ensembles and Mississippi University for Women Singers. Christian recording artist Jami Smith will also be featured.
Donations generated at the 7 p.m. performance in the FUMC sanctuary at 602 Main St. will benefit the Good Samaritan Medical Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, Helping Hands and The Father's Child Ministries.
The event is the brainchild of Doug Browning, FUMC minister of music and an instructor in the MUW Department of Music.
"The reason we're doing this is to create awareness and generate funds for local charities," explained Browning. "The idea is to develop this to include more churches and community participation around the idea that we need to support the charities that work so tirelessly. And, we wanted to help kick off the season in great fashion."
While traditional carols will be on the program, Saturday's audience can also expect contemporary numbers, as well as a gospel rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus."
Special guest Jami Smith will perform for a segment of the concert. The Oklahoma native's 2008 album, "Faith in You," was named one of the top worship albums of the year by Christianity Today. In 2002, her "Salt and Light" and "Wash Over Me" were chart toppers on Christian radio.
About 50 female and male vocalists from MUW will join the mass concert choir. Dr. Julia Mortyakova assumed duties as new chair of the university's Department of Music in August.
"Our singers have been performing at Columbus Air Force Base and at other events in the community, but this is the first concert like this. We're really looking forward to it," she remarked.
Season of giving
Kathy Arinder, executive director of Columbus-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity, was grateful to learn the agency will be one of four beneficiaries of donations made at the event.
"We're always needing funding to help us build homes, and it was just a great surprise to have that right here at Christmas," she said.
The support will also make a difference for the Good Samaritan Medical Clinic, according to Kathy Tentoni, its executive director.
"In these difficult economic times, all charitable organizations are struggling with decreased contributions, and the recipients of our help are more in need. We sincerely thank all our supporters," she expressed.
Browning concluded, "There will no better time to bless these charities."
For more information about "A Christmas for Columbus," contact the FUMC office at 662-328-5252.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.