By RICK COUSINS
It doesn’t take long for someone new to church to sense a pattern to Sunday mornings: Greetings, announcements, songs, sermon, offering and another song. The worship leader sings and the preacher preaches. But what if the preacher himself is also an accomplished soloist, bringing together two aspects of worship in one person?
Galveston’s St. Vincent’s House will feature such a slate of singing preachers at its annual Gospel by the Sea fundraiser at 6 p.m. June 14 at Hitchcock’s Greater St. Matthews Baptist Church, 6333 state Highway 6. The free concert will be the 13th of its kind, but the first edition to be held on the mainland.
The Rev. Andrew W. Berry II of Texas City’s Greater Barbour’s Chapel, is a popular standout, even as singing preachers go. He explained how it all happened for him.
“I was called into the preaching ministry at the age of 9, and was blessed to have been born into a preaching/singing family,” he said. “Everywhere I go, singing is a part of who we are. God is the reason I have a song, and without him I’m always in the wrong key and out of tune. My singing is an outward expression of my inward joy.”
Likewise, the Rev. Sadallie I. Cole, a native of Galveston and the senior pastor at True Deliverance Ministries, International, will, when he rises to his portion of the program, share his feelings of happiness and freedom.
“Singing allows me to express my love for God through total surrender vocally,” he said. “It allows me to release my feelings about certain things. It brings me into a place of peace and is a gift from God that I cherish.”
St. Vincent’s annually sponsors Gospel by the Sea in order to help support its varied ministries which at last count, included a values-based preschool, food pantry, a free clinic, emergency assistance and transportation program, interagency referrals and community outreach, as well as the Hope Academy Alternative School. All seek to serve those Galveston families that are experiencing crisis or other challenges.
The Rev. Freda Marie Brown, St. Vincent’s new executive director, said she was excited by this year’s concept of pastors performing in song. Brown also said she believes in the benefits of solid, gospel music for the spirit.
“It has always been a healing medium for peoples of African descent in America,” she said. “And St. Vincent’s, likewise, has become a conduit for healing the body, mind and soul here.”
This year, a portion of the performances will also be bilingual as the Rev. Ray Pinard, a pastor at Galveston’s Moody Methodist Church adds his gospel rendition, one with a Latin beat and Spanish lyrics.
“We’re very lively with conga drums — music has always been a big part of the ministry my wife and I have had as missionaries in South America,” he said. “We have a saying: God is love and music is his voice — La musica es Su voz.”
It addition to the clerics, St. Vincent’s preschool choir “Seeds for Tomorrow” will add their young voices to the show, which will be shepherded by the Rev. Charles Hudson, host of KTSU-FM’s “Gospel Sunday Afternoon” radio program.
As for Berry, his goal is not to show how some pastors really can sing, but to encourage everyone to share in their joy.
“My intent is not to impress but to inspire,” he said. “My honest hope is that the faithful will come not to hear me, but to hear the gospel itself in the form of song.”
Rick Cousins can be reached at rick. firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
WHAT: “Pastors of Song” Annual Gospel by the Sea Concert
WHEN: 6 p.m. June 14
WHERE: Greater St. Matthews Baptist Church, 6333 Highway 6, Hitchcock
INFO: For details or free (required) tickets, call 409-763-8521.