George Frideric Handel said at the first London performance of his masterpiece Messiah that he didn’t just wish to entertain his audience, but that he wished “to make them better.” *(Burrows, 28)
In the spirit of Handel’s aspirations, the faith communities from Hope United Methodist and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) joined together on December 18, 2015, to present an Interfaith Messiah Sing-Along bringing community together in spirit, song and charitable giving. Complete with soloists, orchestra and an interfaith choir, the event filled Hope’s Sanctuary and will continue next year as a new tradition for the Denver community.
Christina Bishop, associate director of the Colorado Mormon Chorale (LDS), conducted the performance and soloists Melissa Dalton (soprano), Rachel Newson (alto), Father Patrick Dolan (tenor) and Joel Hillan (baritone), were the selected soloists. A volunteer interfaith choir of 36 voices and a 26-member orchestra supported the audience and soloists.
“I loved the performance. The instrumentalists, chorus, and soloists came together in a spectacular way that night,” Bishop said. “I was moved as I looked at the many people I was directing who were giving freely of their time and abilities to perform something so traditionally uplifting for our community.”
The vision of an Interfaith Messiah Sing-along came as the LDS congregations in Denver reached out to Hope United Methodist to partner on this endeavor, seeing a need for building bridges of faith. Pastor Don Bird of Hope was pleased to participate and host the sing-along. “The Messiah reminds us of the life and mission of Jesus and gives meaning to His birth that we celebrate at Christmas. When the Body of Christ comes together as one voice, we honor Jesus’ life and message.”
In addition to celebrating and connecting the community, the leaders agreed the sing-along would also raise money for the Village Resource Center, a social services resource in Greenwood Village sponsored by a consortium of faiths. Over $1000 was raised that evening.
“I am also grateful to the response of the community in supporting the Village Resource Center through their financial gifts,” Bird continued. “Our coming together makes it possible for us to help those who are in great need within our community.”
Leaders from both faiths offered prayer and thanksgiving at the event, and members of multiple faiths were able to mingle together in song and in celebration. “We are so grateful for the good people at Hope United Methodist Church who graciously hosted this event,” Peter Krumholz, president of the Denver LDS congregations, said. “The choir and orchestra were wonderful. It was a great way to celebrate the Christmas season, and to be powerfully reminded that Christmas is, above all else, about the birth of our Savior.”
Over 500 community members came to the concert, filling the sanctuary to capacity. Members from Hope United Methodist, the LDS church, as well as parishioners from Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, supporting Fr. Dolan, attended the event.
“I really believe an interfaith event is important because it helps to stress our faith similarities rather than our differences,” Jim Nussbaum, a community member who attended the sing-along said. “In the final analysis, we are all striving for the common goal of doing good here on earth and sharing the right to be with God in Heaven.”
For more information about the sing-along or to participate next year, visit denverinterfaithmessiah.weebly.com
* Burrows, Donald. Handel: Messiah. Oxford University Press, 1991.
Reposted with permission from www.DenverMormons.org
Read about it on The Denver Posts YourHUB as well.