Gary had arranged for us to sing for the Home and Family Relationship Seminar Series at the Duluth SDA church in Duluth, Georgia. The speaker for the day was Dr. Neil Reid, founder of Hope Fort Ministries, an organization that helps families find solutions to modern social issues.
Gary and Ryan were in Spartanburg, South Carolina for a youth event for Southern so they arrived there on Thursday. Tim and I decided to take my Taurus, and left Collegedale on Friday around 5:00. We had a good drive on the way down and found the Duluth church while they were having their evening meeting, so we decided to find the hotel where we were staying. We found it about 15 minutes from the church and then about 9 PM we left to go back. Pastor Reid had left by the time we got there but we got to talk to Pastor Amaro and got a guided tour of the church and school by our new friend Antwone. We had a good chat while waiting for Ryan and Gary to arrive. We found out that Atlanta Adventist Academy was on the same grounds as the church, and the school’s ministry is a big part of the focus of the church. Ryan and Gary arrived not long after our tour of the school and by 10:40 or so we were all set up and finished with sound check. They followed me and Tim over to the hotel and we showed them their room.
Sabbath morning we led the praise time by singing a couple of our hymns. We’d been teaching Gary “Softly and Tenderly” over the last few weeks, so he agreed to debut it for the folks that morning. It went very well for it being the first time performing it in public. We sang special music before the sermon and had the privilege of hearing some local soloists sing as well. Dr. Reid’s message was entitled “Back to Eden: God, Home, Family & Relationships” and he did indeed go back to the beginning. He talked about creation, Adam and Eve, the roots of family and what God originally intended. Another topic in his message was evolution and how animals and people differ in that we can seek out a purpose higher than simply surviving. He quoted an evolutionist who said “The universe has no design or purpose, but only displays blind, pitiless indifference.” He pointed out that “indifference” implies intelligence and that those who believe in evolution have a difficult time not using language that attributes some type of reasoning, intelligence or awareness when even trying to prove their theory. I enjoyed listening to his message for both services and I liked his method of injecting humor and real-world applications to Biblical principles.
After the service there was a fantastic fellowship meal down at the school gym. We all agreed that it was one of the best potlucks we’d ever had. There were some very spicy rice dishes which were so good! Someone noted that Duluth is a very international church, and that may be why the food was so diverse and delicious. Earlier in the foyer we saw a board on the wall that displayed about 32 different national flags and one of the ladies mentioned that they stood for all the countries represented by the church members.
Our concert started at 6:00 and was supposed to end at 6:45 to give everyone time to get ready for the meeting at 7:00. We had a great concert and ended right on time even though we didn’t cut out many songs from the list. We managed to take down all our equipment and clear the platform in less than 15 minutes! After Dr. Neil’s message, we had our CDs for sale in the foyer and got a chance to talk to some wonderful people. There were lots of kids and preteens in the foyer and even a couple of academy seniors who spent some time talking to Gary and Ryan about Southern Adventist University since they both work there and know a lot about the programs offered.
It was late when we were ready to leave, and since Gary drives faster than I do, we agreed that I wouldn’t even try to keep up with him! We said our farewells, and as Tim and I drove back home we had a great time trying to remember our parts to all of the hymns we’d sung on our Hymns by the Book albums. We also dug up some very old songs that only he and I would remember and would laugh at how funny they sounded with tenor and baritone and no melody! We also had some great conversations about life, the universe and everything. I counted my blessings as I wearily pulled into my driveway at about 2:00 AM. I was thankful that I have such good friends as Gary, Tim and Ryan and I thanked the Lord for the chance to bring some joy into peoples’ lives with the gift of music. I was also thankful that I have a purpose in life and that I have no doubt it was given to me by a loving Creator.