There is a long standing tradition for the Newaygo Community when it comes to the Christmas Concert, a tradition that has endured for over 3 decades. The first concert was held at the Newaygo United Methodist Church in December of 1987. At that time, Doris Purcell, an organist from the Newaygo Congregational UCC, accompanied the choir and Kathy Badge, choir director from Newaygo United Methodist Church, directed the choir and invited the community to attend. Soon, members from other churches joined this community Christmas choir, and not only did the choir grow in size--but the audience did as well.
To accommodate the growing audience, the concert was moved to Saint Bartholomew Catholic Church. Doris Purcell played accompaniment for the first 5 years and then Lois Vandyke took over the accompanist position while Kathy Badge continued to organize and direct the choir for twenty years.
In 2006, both Kathy Badge and Lois Vandyke retired from leadership of the Christmas Choir and many folks wondered if this might be the end of a wonderful tradition. It was at that point that Rev. Barbara Boss volunteered to step in and try to keep the choir going. That was in 2007--and the tradition still continues.
This year marks the 32nd year a combined community choir gathers and learns sacred Christmas songs to be performed for a Community Christmas concert on the second Sunday of December. Although the choir has been given different names, each year anyone who has a love of singing about the "real reason for the season" is invited to join this community effort.
There are no tryouts--all are welcome (age high school through adult). Last year. 2017, the choir chose to call themselves the River Country Community Christmas Choir and it attracted fifty singing adults from Newaygo County and beyond. This year, the invitation is the same and the choir welcomes all to “come and sing with us!”
Rehearsals start on Tuesday, November 6, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Family of God Community Church. Barbara Boss, a retired pastor from Newaygo, will continue to direct and Lorene Witte, of Fremont, will thankfully accompany the choir once again.
For the last several years, the concert has been held at the Grant Fine Arts Center--and the tradition of performing on the second Sunday in December continues as the 2018 date is December 9--beginning at 6 p.m. (regardless of weather!).
“As in the past, there is no charge for the concert,only a free-will offering is taken and given to community ministry of Newaygo County,” said Rev. Boss. “If you enjoy singing, come to our first rehearsal and see for yourself. If you enjoy listening to some wonderful songs of the Christmas season, please put the concert date on your calendar and bring your friends and family.”
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