Singers with a mission

July 26, 2005|by MARIE GILBERT /Staff Writer

WOLFSVILLE - Since Linda Harbaugh and Juanita Barto began singing gospel music as the Spirit-Filled Messengers, they have performed in concerts, headlined benefit programs and recorded CDs with a Nashville, Tenn., label.

They also have provided water for two villages in Africa, performed prison ministry at Maryland Correctional Institution, and helped pay for food, medicine and housing for those less fortunate.

"It's fine to sing and talk," Harbaugh of Greencastle, Pa., said. "But if you're not doing for others, then you're not doing what God wants you to be doing."

The duo was among area groups that performed Saturday afternoon at a gospel hymn sing sponsored by the Wolfsville Ruritan Club and held at the Ruritan Park.


According to club member Bill Stine, proceeds from the event will be used for student scholarships, upkeep of the park, and for those in need throughout the community.

The gospel hymn sing has been a club fundraiser for 17 years and has continued to grow each summer, Stine said.

"It usually attracts several hundred people from across the area," he noted. "There are a lot of gospel music fans out there and word gets out about something like this."

Among those attending was 21-year-old Gail Reynolds of Frederick, Md., who said she was visiting relatives in the area and decided to go to the fundraiser.

"I sing in my church choir, so this kind of music appeals to me," she said. "I'm originally from Alabama, so I know a little about southern gospel music."

Also attending was James Myers of Myersville.

"My wife, Jean, and I try to come as often as we can," he said. "I think last year was the only year we didn't make it."

A long-time admirer of gospel music, Myers said Saturday's event was a great way to "enjoy some good music and some good food."

John Thomas of Hagerstown is the soundman for the six-member Down Home Gospel Singers, which performed Saturday.

"Gospel music is pretty popular," he said. "We always have big crowds wherever we perform. There are a lot of gospel music fans in this area."

Thomas said his group performs bluegrass gospel - different from the traditional Southern gospel.

"Not all gospel music is alike," he said.

Eighty-year-old Clyde Smith, who lives outside of Middletown, agreed.

"There's all kinds of gospel music," he smiled. "But it's all good."

The gospel hymn sing featured Gospel Travelers, By Faith, For His Glory and Harry Ryan.

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