By Carl Stagner
Nearly every Church of God Convention since the turn of the century has featured a Heritage Sing-Along. From its humble beginnings inside Anderson University’s Byrum Hall, to the golden years at Park Place Church of God, Reardon Auditorium, and Madison Park Church of God, the Heritage Sing-Along has remained a constant. As a special activity during the Church of God Convention 2014, the Heritage Sing-Along will take place at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. Host Joe Gregory looks forward to another great opportunity to worship the Lord in unity—and four-part harmony.
The Heritage Sing-Along will offer nondelegates who attend the Church of God Convention 2014 an alternative activity to the General Assembly business session on Wednesday, June 25. If you’ve been to the Heritage Sing-Along in years past, you’ll surely want to attend again. If you’ve never experienced the sheer joy of coming together to worship through these timeless classics, you’ll want to see what the buzz is all about.
The Heritage Sing-Along “helps us experience worship to God in a way that, to many in the Church of God, is familiar,” Joe Gregory explains. “These songs are a part of our spiritual DNA. They have become familiar avenues of truth to us.” Joe goes on to explain that the Heritage Sing-Along brings Church of God people together because of a common connection these particular songs that other faith groups simply don’t have.
Joe knows a bit about the music of the Church of God. He’s served in music ministry within the movement for thirty-two years, with the past twelve at First Church of God in Vincennes, Indiana. His home church was the South Memorial Drive Church of God in New Castle, Indiana—then called Walnut Street Church of God. “I’m the first in the ministry in my family. I love our teaching of holiness. I love our teaching about the oneness of God’s people. I am who I am because of the Church of God and the way that God used this particular group of people to awaken me to his love and his gospel.”
The Church of God is known for its singing. Music has always been an important part of our heritage. “Music serves as a vehicle for us to express ourselves in ways that we otherwise could not,” Joe continues. “It is a real gift from God to us so that we might express truth in him and love to him. And the things we can express about him, lyrics alone could not help us facilitate. Music enhanced the music of the Church of God because words we sang mirrored our doctrinal understanding of the scriptures. It reinforced the message.”
One of Joe’s favorite heritage songs of the Church of God is the Barney Warren classic “There Is Joy in the Lord.” Joe reflects, “It expresses what I found to be true in my walk with God; to be true in experience.”
The Heritage Sing-Along is scheduled for 2:00–3:00 PM CDT in on Wednesday, June 25, at Crossings Community Church of God in Oklahoma City. Several other familiar faces are expected to join Joe Gregory for this year’s Heritage Sing-Along, including pianist Jean Shackleton and organist Ruth Ann Yerden. Register for the Church of God Convention 2014: Be Bold! at www.chogconvention.org.
Order your copy of Camp Meeting Favorites: Heritage Songs of the Church of God, edited by Joseph Gregory from Warner Press (www.warnerpress.org). You can also order the Camp Meeting Favorites Set, which includes everything you need to use 75 best-loved Church of God hymns in public worship or personal devotions (songbook, PowerPoint CD of lyrics, and 3 audio CDs of piano accompaniment).