By Jessica Brodie
NORTH—United Methodists across the Orangeburg District this fall combined their musical talents with a passion for connectionalism in a festival that raised more than $11,000 for Imagine No Malaria.
The district presented its Imagine A Miracle Music Festival Sept. 24 at St. Mark United Methodist Church, North, with a lineup of 10 musical acts ranging from bluegrass to Gospel to country western and more.
“It went really, really well,” said the Rev. Jon Hoin, pastor of the St. Matthews Charge. “We’ve already had people asking us to do it again in the future! As they went out the door, they were like, ‘So we’re going to do this again next year, right?’ The response was really awesome.”
Orangeburg District Congregational Specialist the Rev. Jim Arant said the festival came about because the churches wanted to come together and raise funds for the conference’s malaria initiative. The district was in the midst of raising funds for its own district initiative, a technology center and library in Ghana, when the rest of the conference was engaged in fundraising for the UMC’s Imagine No Malaria effort. Now that the Ghana technology center is up and running, Arant said, “We wanted to get involved in Imagine No Malaria, too.”
It took them six months to plan the event. Hoin had been on the Imagine No Malaria conference committee, and he said as soon as the Ghana project was complete, Orangeburg District Superintendent the Rev. Frederick Yebuah approached him.
“Brother Frederick came to me and said, ‘Now that we are done with the Ghana project, I would really for us to do something as a district for Imagine No Malaria,’” Hoin said.
With so much natural musical talent in the district, the concert idea quickly evolved as the ideal way for the churches to come together and help raise money.
“I think it left a lasting impression,” Hoin said.
The event was drop-in style, but Arant said he was surprised at how there was always a crowd of at least 100 people even to the very end of the evening.
“There was enough crowd to make it feel like there was an audience,” Arant said.
The solo and group musical acts were Stringer Chapel Choir, Joe Jeffcoat, The Beaver Creek Band, Trinity UMC Male Chorus, St. Stephen UMC Praise Team, Ed Stiltz, Bethel UMC Men’s Choir, Bill Humphries Group, Mac Davis, St. Mark UMC Men’s Choir and St. Mark UMC Mass Choir. “The Orangeburg District is a very generous district,” Arant said. “It just amazes me over and over again the way they keep giving. They’re not the richest district, yet they pay a large percentage of their apportionment sand always come together to help.”