Local churches come together for community cantata performances

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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Members of 10 churches in Covington County will congregate as one for a community-wide cantata for three nights this week at the LBW Dixon Center for the Performing Arts.

The cantata will be held Thursday, April 6, through Saturday, April 8, with nightly performances at 7 p.m. Admission to the event is free, and doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

“The whole idea for this community cantata came from the desire to pull together all Christians from every denomination within Covington County to celebrate the pivotal point of our faith,” Director Lee Herring said. “We want to retell the story of our Savior who came to Earth and was rejected by his own people, betrayed by one of His twelve disciples, and hung on a cross until His death only to come back to life three days later. As Christians, we are called to go forth and make disciples of many nations to minister to the people of the world. That is the main goal and purpose of this cantata.”

Churches represented include Antioch Congregational Church, Bethany Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Andalusia, First Baptist Church of Gantt, First Baptist Church of Opp, Good News Baptist Church, Harmony Baptist Church, Southside Baptist Church of Andalusia, Westview Assembly, and Westview Baptist of Opp.

A cantata is a narrative piece of music with voices and instrumental accompaniment that typically contains solos, choruses, and orchestras. The title of the cantata is “How Great Thou Art.”

The event is free for the public to attend with Harmony Baptist Church covering any costs associated with the cantata. There will be a donation/tithes and offering box in the lobby of the Dixon Center for the public to make donations as they wish.

“David T. Clydesdale wrote this cantata in 1984 for the glory of God. Everyone in attendance can expect a drama team with a full choir and orchestra to support the story of our Savior’s death and resurrection. The cantata is a dramatic retelling of the last few days of our Savior. We begin with His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem to the last supper and the death and resurrection. This will be an exciting retelling of those events and truly be an event to see,” Herring said.

In addition to his role as the director, he will serve other roles as conductor of the orchestra and choir as well as the drama director. Herring shared many reasons why he is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this cantata.

“I get to work with people from other churches within our county. This cantata consists of about 75 people over a span of 10 different churches. I love music with a passion, and God gave me this gift and it would be selfish not to use it for His glory,” he said.

He added that the cast for the cantata was selected based on each person’s character.

“To portray these biblical characters, I wanted to find people that I believe would embody some of the same characteristics of these biblical people. All of the cast within the cantata is comprised of local citizens of Covington County.”

Herring is a Covington County native and graduate of Straughn High School. He attends Huntingdon College in Montgomery studying Music Education with a focus on instrumental music. He is currently serving as the minister of music at Harmony Baptist Church while completing his internship at Opp High School under the guidance of band director Dillon Worley.

His background in music started when he joined the band in the sixth grade at Straughn.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of a lot of people. It truly takes a village to raise a child. I am very grateful to have had the culmination of several villages to help me succeed. However, nothing can supersede God’s love and mercy. I am just happy He chooses to use me,” he said.

Following the cantata performance each night, a speaker will take the stage for a short sermon. Herring said these sermons would give everyone in attendance an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Don Herring from Good News Baptist Church will speak Thursday followed by William Worley of First Baptist Church in Andalusia on Friday night. Scott Donaldson from Harmony Baptist Church will speak Saturday night.

“We hope that everyone has an opportunity to come and support local art and local churches. These participants have been practicing since January in preparation for this weekend,” Herring said.

The community cantata cast list is as follows:

Soprano — Hannah Moore, Sharron Short, Ramona Fryer, Marilyn Herring, Jill Jones, Sonja Grimes, Jordan Driver, Lynn King, Olivia Ennis, Carol Polk, Doris Morgan, and Evelyn Zuhse.

Alto — Barbara Pilotte, Nancy Holmes, Danielle Rodgers, Wendy Thompson, Jamie Harrison, Christina Herring, Cindy Reed, Cathy Bozeman, Lori Huff, Laura Thompson, Sandra Green, Carla Ward

Tenor — Dennis Johnson, Don Herring, Eddie Huff, Richard Hammett

Bass — Hilton Bozeman, Michael Short, John Thompson, Shane Thompson, David Kirkland, William Blocker

Instrumentalist — Amy Johnson, Morgan Mabry, KC Cooke, Jar’Navious Cooper, Dillon Worley, John Bell, Christian Pate, Trevor Sikorski, Daniel Walden, Ethan Stonecipher, Jarmon Isom, John Hayden Fuller

Drama — Shane Thompson, Dusty Varner, Adrie Thompson, Sadie Huff, David Kirkland, Henry Kelley, Luke, Johnathan Pettus, David Kirkland, Scott Dutton, Duston Brannon, Justin Clem, Corey Morris, Nathan Johns, Leo Pilotte, Richard Hammett, Marilyn Herring, Christina Herring, Lori Huff, Denis Johnson, Corey Morris, Duston Brannon, Johnathan Pettus

Stage Crew — Martha Kelley, Beth Thompson, Andrew Harrison, Anna Harrison, Misty Dutton