Proclaiming the goodness of God

In the North & Central Illinois (NCI) Division, two new musical groups are reaching people with the gospel through their vocal ministry. The NCI Gospel Choir with its rich, exuberant praise and Hispanic Voices with its beautiful harmonies and joyful expression each bring unique sounds, styles and perspectives to their ministry.

Peter Kim, divisional music director, said that restarting the Gospel Choir, which had existed decades earlier, and creating Hispanic Voices provides an avenue for diverse groups to worship and minister together.

“The revival of the Gospel Choir served to reintroduce uplifting expressions of praise to the division,” he said. “The desire for a platform to express and sing in Spanish led to the creation of Hispanic Voices; our aim is to unite the diverse traditions and heritages within the Hispanic community.”

The Gospel Choir made its debut during commissioning weekend 2023 to an enthusiastic response. Director Envoy Theo Coleman is encouraged by the group’s ongoing engagements and opportunities to minister with the gospel sound.

“The mission is to spread the love of Jesus to not only The Salvation Army but to all the communities it reaches,” said Envoy Theo. “The harvest of the Army is in a lot of communities that love gospel music. We are able to sing the style that those urban communities enjoy.”

Over the past year, the choir has performed at corps and divisional events. “This was something that
was prayed for and wanted for a long time, just to have that gospel representation on the divisional level. It speaks to equality and the diversity of the Army,” he said.

The formation of Hispanic Voices highlights Hispanic expressions of worship, encouraging the largest cultural group in the division by providing opportunities for Hispanic Salvationists to be part of or enjoy performances in their native language. Directed by Major Dan Faundez, Hispanic Voices has performed at corps, divisional and territorial events, including the ONE Conference last year.

“Hispanic Voices is really a group that attempts to unite people, not only by singing in our own language, but to connect with people with a message that points to God,” said the major.

Aside from the joy of performing for the Lord, leaders and participants have expressed the deep sense of fellowship, connection and unity they feel as members of these groups. Times of devotion, reflection and prayer are central to each group’s rehearsals, deepening their bond through Christ.

“I love being united. I love being together, eating together, singing together,” said Major Nivia Paredes, a member of Hispanic Voices. “It is good for our corps to see us and members of other corps coming together.”

Echoing her sentiments, Brigitte Ferguson, who sings in the Gospel Choir, said, “I see it bringing cultures together. God is taking away division for one purpose—to glorify Him. It’s a blessing to me to have this community, fellowship and ministry with other corps.”

 

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