"We didn't come here to entertain you," said Erskine Peoples. "We came here to praise God."
That's what nearly 100 people did at the 10th Annual Friends and Family Day at John Wesley United Methodist Church in Bristol, Va., on Saturday, June 2.
Several Bristol churches were represented in the sanctuary as the Chattanooga Gospel Orchestra played jazzy versions of "This Little Light of Mine," "Jesus, There's Something About That Name," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and other songs.
Alice Pace, chair of the event since 2001, said it began as a way of inviting in the community. Various speakers and musical groups have been featured. The Chattanooga Gospel Orchestra, which includes about 17 musicians, also appeared in 2005 and 2009.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, they were a 10-plus," Pace said.
Participants included the Rev. Robert Kariuki Nyaga, pastor of John Wesley UMC in Bristol and Charles Wesley UMC in Abingdon; Rev. Leroy Henry, pastor of Trinity UMC in Bristol and former pastor at John Wesley; and the Rev. Sandra Johnson, Abingdon District superintendent.
Other Bristol churches represented were Addilyn Memorial, Reynolds Memorial, Harris-Anderson A.M.E. Zion, Lee Street Baptist, and Household of Faith Community.
United Methodists in the Chattanooga Gospel Orchestra included Booker Scruggs, Bethehem-Wiley; Erskine Peoples, St. John; and Michael Feely, First-Centenary.
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Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.