By Jessica Brodie
The South Carolina Conference’s youth singing ministry is heading in a new direction.
In an effort to reach more youth singers and even possibly branch into instrumental, dance and visual arts, the Spirit Singers choir will shift from its current model into a new all-encompassing creative vision under direction by a conference design team.
“It’s in a baby stage, and we are still working out the details of everything,” Spirit Singers Director Kathy Jo Long told the Advocate. “Our goal is to create something that will involve more teenagers throughout the conference and cut down on costs.”
Since 1987, the Spirit Singers (originally called The Conference Youth Choir) have traveled South Carolina in a Christian ministry of song, fellowship, leadership and worship that glorifies and praises God as testimony to His love. They are a weekend and summer auditioned choir of teens from across the state who love spreading the Gospel through song. But as Long said, “It’s an expensive program.”
And between that, dwindling participants and dwindling requests for performances, Spirit Singers leadership felt it was time for God to cast a new vision for the ministry and take it to the next level.
“It’s purely by the grace of God and pure hearts of people that the program has continued this long,” Long said.
Long said that while she will dearly miss the chance to work hands-on with the youth singers, she’s going to focus on the plans promised in Jeremiah 29:11—and on all the good that will surely come.
“I’m like a mama whose little birds have flown the coop all at one time!” Long said. “But I think it will be really good for the teenagers because they’ll maybe get the chance to do more.”
In a letter Long gave to parents and teen singers at their final performance March 22 at St. John’s United Methodist Church, Rock Hill, she said, “Things are changing for the Spirit Singers. We are seeking ways to involve many more youth in music ministry and lower the costs. The truth is that Spirit Singers has not had a full choir (30-40) for a long, long time.”
Chris Lynch, congregational specialist who oversees youth ministry for the conference, is putting together a design team to dream up an alternative singing ministry, though not necessarily limited just to singing.
“Spirit Singers is different from most of the other ministries because it’s not an event but an opportunity for youth to be in ministry, and that’s important to continue,” Lynch said.
His team is not sure what that new vision will ultimately look like, but they are in the process of re-visioning and seeing what is still viable and vital about the Spirit Singers—and whether there is a way to get some of the same outcomes, but in a more sustainable way.
Lynch hopes to have something in place by next summer, though he said he doesn’t want to rush the process.
“I would rather wait a year and do something well and right than rush it and not do it well,” Lynch said.
Long is encouraging the Spirit Singers teens and parents to support the new endeavor, which she thinks will be a true positive for the conference and for the Lord.
“God is creating something new, and it is time for us to move forward,” Long said in her letter. “Remember: the focus is on God.”
For more on conference youth ministries of all types, visit http://scmyp.org.
By Jessica Brodie