Local choir performed in Italy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Going on missions is a part of life at East End Baptist Church.

Italy was included in the many that took place this summer.

I thought about the country during last weekend’s Festa Italiana celebration with our sister city, Oderzo.

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Earlier this summer, 12 members of the church’s Voices of Praise Choir spent a week in Italy sharing their talents. This group was named the Italy Ensemble and flew from Norfolk to Washington, D.C., then on to Munich, Germany, before making their first stop in Italy.

While in Italy, the ensemble gave six concerts in four Italian cities: Genoa, Sarzana, Rapallo and Chiarari. The group performed 16 musical selections.

The ensemble’s latest performance was last Thursday at the Cedar Point Country Club, at the mayor’s welcome dinner for the 90 Oderzo visitors. The group sang six selections at the dinner.

Members of the ensemble are Celestine Croston, Alexander Bess, Mary Bess, Karen Jenkins, Felicia Parsons, Gail Hinton-Copeland, Robert Scott, Clarence West Sr., Tamara McBride, Alicia Croston and Karen Croston, minister of music at East End. Three supporters of the ensemble, Orpah West, John Croston and Helena Thompson, also made the trip to Italy.

Since their trip, the ensemble has blessed the East End congregation with some of the selections from the concert tour.

Most of these selections were spirituals, including &uot;Woke Up This Morning,&uot; &uot;I Am Seeking For a City,&uot; &uot;Ain’a That Good News,&uot; &uot;His Name So Sweet,&uot; &uot;Deep River,&uot; &uot;I Hear a Voice a Praying,&uot; &uot;I’m Determined to Walk With Jesus,&uot; &uot;Climbing Up The Mountain,&uot; &uot;Ain’t Got Time to Die,&uot; &uot;Hush-Hush Somebody’s Calling My Name,&uot;

&uot;Walk Together Children,&uot; &uot;Cert’nly Lord,&uot; &uot;You Must Have That True Religion,&uot; &uot;Give Me That Old Time Religion,&uot; &uot;Oh Freedom,&uot; &uot;Every Time I Feel the Spirit,&uot; and &uot;Amen.&uot;

I was very touched by some comments made by people who were on the mission trip.

According to Copeland, all program locations were filled to capacity, with standing room only. &uot;They even asked us for autographs,&uot; she said.

McBride said that their mission was meant to heal the broken-hearted and to bless them through song.

&uot;I feel that we received a blessing from our brothers and sisters of Italy because they were very warm, loving, receptive and so very hungry to hear the word of the Lord.&uot;

McBride said.

&uot;The greatest blessing I received from God was when I saw God actually work the gift of tongues through us to allow His message to be heard and understood through song,&uot; Jenkins said. &uot;We experienced difficulty daily trying to communicate with the Italian people, but when we began to sing his praises in English, God transformed what we were singing so that the Italian people could understand and worshipped and praised God right along with us. Only God has that power.&uot;

When the group was not rehearsing or performing, they had a chance to view the landscape on a boat tour.

Mission trips at East End are usually open to any Christian aged 16 or over who sense the call to service and are willing to be used to do God’s work.

Evelyn Wall is a retired Suffolk News-Herald staff writer.