I was just thinking about the many changes that have taken place among our churches just in the past 70 years or so. As I previously wrote, not all changes are bad; but I must add, not all changes are good.
No longer emphasized are evening services in many churches. What was called Baptist Training Service (BTS) has gone away, and with it went the quarterly Young People’s Meetings that were held on Sunday afternoons. I must admit though, that some good things have replaced these, and one of those is the truly excellent SOAR Student Conference, which is attended by 1,200-1,500 youth and leaders.
Still, as I pondered some of these changes, I realized that I miss some activities as well. For instance, I miss the annual BMA of Arkansas Choir Festivals that were enjoyed by so many. They too are now gone.
Of course, we also recognize that very few churches have choirs of any kind today, but the youth choirs were special — and the young people comprising them felt special — and at no time more than at Choir Festival.
Men like Jim Courtney, Jackie Riley, Donny Parrish, Stan Scroggins, David Attebery, Donny Hymer and many others would spend hours with their youth choirs, preparing them to sing at the annual Choir Festivals. The size of the church didn’t matter; the youth enjoyed traveling to the campus of Central Baptist College and singing their hearts out. Judges evaluated each choir and, of course, there were winners in various divisions.
Church members, especially parents and grandparents, would travel to see the finale of the festival — the Mass Choir performance. That is what I really miss! The youth from the churches did not just bond with their own choirs, but the interactions with young people from churches across the state and they built friendships that have lasted decades.
So, yes, there have been many changes. Some of those, in my opinion, could be easily brought back. I was just thinking — I would love to see youth choirs return in our churches — and maybe that would bring back the annual Choir Festival, too!