Sunday 25th June ended the 8-year Inter Church Choir (ICC) project in a rousing, fun-filled visit to the Horringer Court Community Church (HC3).
On June 18th 2009, twenty people from Churches around Bury St Edmunds and as far away as Diss met in the conference room at Denny Bros Ltd on Moreton Hall (it’s where I work). Two weeks later we met again, this time at the Trinity Methodist Church in town.
ICC was born.
Great Barton Free Church (now the Freedom Church) offered to host us free for our Thursday night practice, doing so throughout our 8 years together – we owe them a debt of thanks.
Why ICC? In 1987 I founded an Inter Church Football club and called it Sporting 87. The vision was to see Christians break down barriers of denomination across a common interest and to challenge young men to ‘prove’ their faith in the challenging world of grass-roots football. It continues to thrive.
Mixed-voice harmonies and football compete as favourite ‘hobbies’ and when I had the space and time for the next Inter Church project, a choir seemed the obvious choice!
We sang fairly modern Christian/gospel music arranged for our choir. We favoured chord-based close harmonies to create rich and ‘accessible’ sounds. An occasional ‘golden oldie’ snuck into the repertoire and traditional Christmas Carols formed favourite programs.
We were never a performance choir. Singing as well as we could and practising to that end was a given of course. But we wanted to enrich the worship of any church that invited us to sing – and when they knew the songs, would encourage them to sing with us. But we were also a family, a kind of singing housegroup. We supported each other, prayed and laughed together and created bonds through music and faith which were a huge strength to many.
As modern as our songs were, church choirs are not much in demand but singing around 10 times a year (in various venues) was as much as we could really take on with all our other individual church commitments. And when I became Pastor at HC3 in September 2016 my time was more constricted. But ultimately, I had to step down in June this year and soon after, the ICC committee decided it was time to bring the curtains down.
I was chuffed that HC3 hosted our last outing. It’s a church that welcomes anybody, that finds enjoyment in most things someone does to bless them. HC3 is also able to change its own program and make time for different things. And that final Sunday morning captured what both ICC and HC3 are about – rich singing and sincere worship, lots of fun and interaction and finally, a few tears.
We’re grateful to have been involved with ICC but brave enough to lay it down now. At most there were 35 singers involved at any one time and about 70 altogether who have sung with us at one time or another.
We were blessed, it meant so much to us – so many lives in ICC have been ‘improved’ by the love of God through the fellowship we shared. But we’re so pleased that churches and other venues found ICC to be such a blessing to them – it’s a legacy we are grateful to God to leave behind.
You may have heard us on the stage in the Arc during the Christmas Fayre – we always filled the 5-6pm slot with traditional and less-known carols. Perhaps a relative heard us sing in one of several nursing and residential homes we visited. Wherever you heard us, we pray you were blessed.
Pastor Stephen Jarrold