God rocks at Praise in the Park

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL 

The 13-member praise team from Rockford United Methodist Church belts out their rendition of “I Refuse.” Pictured (L to R) Jeff Schroeder, Ivor Thomas, Sue Dalrymple, Robbin Sheasley, Suzi Richards, Ruth Reickard, Eric Lofgren, Hannah Schroeder, Mike Walden, Priscilla Walden, and Jason Reickard. Seated in background, Greorge Schwallier and Dave Dalrymple. Photo by TOM SCOTT

Sunday afternoons and evenings used to be pretty quiet in downtown Rockford. Other than White Pine Trail users and those canoeing or kayaking on the Rogue River along with the faithful addicted to Sunday evening Custard by the Dam or Rocky’s desserts, not much goes on.

All that changed this summer with a series of Sunday evening concerts in Garden Club Park with a different genre of music, that being Christian themed contemporary praise music.

This summer, the talented musicians and vocalists of the Praise Teams of nine Rockford community churches volunteered to showcase their God-given talents during twelve scheduled Sunday evening performances of the first “Praise in the Park” concert series.

City Council member and event organizer, Rich Moll, has been more than gratified to see attendance increase during each of the seven concerts held thus far. “Rockford is a faith-based community of many church denominations that are interwoven in the eclectic mix of a community we are proud to call home,” said Moll.

City Hall has received numerous calls and emails of thanks and appreciation for granting approval for an event that further adds to the quality of life we all enjoy here in Rockford.

Moll is hopeful that the weekly series of “Praise in the Park” concerts will become an ongoing annual event in ensuing years. Judging from the enthusiastic response of those in attendance thus far, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Your reporters were in attendance at the beautiful riverside Garden Club Park venue, a few Sundays ago, to take in the concert presented by the multi-talented Praise Team of Rockford United Methodist Church. Wow, they were as hot as the 90-degree temperature! For one hour and thirty minutes, without a break, they sang their souls out in praise of the Lord.

Approximately 250 people were in attendance that evening. When you add to that the unknown numbers of trail users who stopped and were caught up by what they were witnessing and hearing, it was an inspiring summer evening indeed.

Four scheduled Sunday evening concerts, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., remain. Next up on Sunday, August 5, is the team from Rockford Reformed Church. Following in ensuing weeks, will be the team from Dick Rounds, Rockford United Methodist Church, and the final performance on August 26, an encore by Crossroads Church.

If you haven’t already done so, plan to take in one or more of these concerts. Parking is close at hand and readily available. Bring your lawn chairs and a picnic basket and find a shady spot. Easier still, pick up Corner Bar hot dogs or a Vitale’s pizza and sit back and enjoy an evening of uplifting music.

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