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Voices come together in Pa. celebration

January 30, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Rev. Ernest Jackson traveled from Baltimore to Chambersburg on Sunday and joined in a covered dish meal abundant with casseroles, meats, pastas and pies.

That meal left many people saying they were too full to move.

Yet, less than two hours later, Jackson and other members of the Whosoever Will choir had hundreds of people on their feet, clapping and praising God.

"I enjoy it. I'm motivated by the ministry we're presenting," Jackson said.

Whosoever Will of Baltimore was the guest of honor at Antrim Brethren in Christ Church's third annual Black Gospel Celebration.

The event was established to bring area churches together and celebrate black heritage, according to Tom Seaman, event organizer.

"It's a desire for unity among churches in the (Cumberland) Valley," Seaman said.

The Rev. Lois Waters of Unity in Christ Church, Chambersburg, was emcee for the evening. She said the event served to celebrate black history, which she described as the "history of all Americans."

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The gospel celebration has featured different guest pastors and choirs each year.

"It's a chance to get to hear someone else's heart," Seaman said.

He said this year's event drew about 500 people, which was 100 more than the previous year. At least seven churches were represented.

That response tells Seaman the celebration is a must-have for next year.

"We're building momentum, so we wouldn't want to stop," he said.

Amy Brown of Waynesboro said she would happily return next year. Brown, who attends Brownsville Church of God in Fayetteville, Pa., accepted an invitation to the gospel celebration and enjoyed the atmosphere of praise.

"I love it," she said.

Allison Reed, 5, of Chambersburg and MacKenzie Shenton, 7, of St. Thomas, Pa., stood in the back of Antrim Church's Family Life Center and clapped and danced to the music.

Both said they liked "the loud music," which they never experienced before.

Founded in 1991, Whosoever Will had its first performance at Falling Spring Presbyterian Church in Chambersburg.

"Chambersburg, we can really claim them. The very first time they sang, they sang in Chambersburg," Waters said.

Whosoever Will presents traditional gospel music with an array of tempos and has performed in France, Germany, Belgium, Africa and Switzerland.

There are about 20 singers who come from different churches in the Baltimore area.

"If you have a desire or a will ... we'll fit you in," director Marcel Coates said. "They're serious about ministry. They have a sincere heart."

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