Church celebrates the season with orchestra, choir this weekend
by Rachel Gray
December 06, 2013 10:08 PM | 1211 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sue Barnes, the pianist for the First Baptist Church in Powder Springs, tickles the ivories during a rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for the annual Christmas concerts. Barnes has been the church piano player for 35 years. <br> Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Sue Barnes, the pianist for the First Baptist Church in Powder Springs, tickles the ivories during a rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for the annual Christmas concerts. Barnes has been the church piano player for 35 years.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Sue Barnes, the pianist for the First Baptist Church in Powder Springs, tickles the ivories during a rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for the annual Christmas concerts. Barnes has been the church piano player for 35 years.
Sue Barnes, the pianist for the First Baptist Church in Powder Springs, tickles the ivories during a rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, in preparation for the annual Christmas concerts. Barnes has been the church piano player for 35 years.
slideshow
POWDER SPRINGS — Musicians, singers and a large Baptist congregation will glorify the newborn King this weekend during one of the many Christmas programs offered by the Powder Springs First Baptist Church.

Minister of Music Steve Jett said the focus on Saturday and Sunday will be “celebrating the birth of Christ.”

The production includes an 80-member church choir with a 30-piece orchestra and hand bells ensemble, Jett said. This weekend, the musicians will be joined by special guest Allison Speer, a Christian singer and recording artist who was raised in Kentucky.

Jett said he feels blessed that the church’s choir and orchestra is composed entirely of congregation members and not hired professionals.

Starting both nights at 6:30 p.m., the program will run over an hour, Jett said. Although there is no admission charge, everyone is encouraged to get a seat early and enjoy the pre-service music.

The program is expected to pack the pews, Jett said. The Powder Springs First Baptist Church comfortably seats 1,000 people, a crowd of around 1,200 attendees is expected both nights.

Many of the guests will be seated in the upper level balcony, which is decorated with evergreen garland and red bows.

Jett said the role of music at Christmas is to make the season more beautiful and exciting.

“It brings to life the Christmas season as we sing of our faith,” Jett said.

An organ sits one side of the stage and a black grand piano on the other, with two large gold chandeliers hanging above and three stained glass windows spanning the massive wall.

The dynamic notes of the piano, played by Sue Barnes, combine with the deep undertones from the organ, played by John Gentry.

Jett said Gentry joined Powder Springs First Baptist Church a couple years ago after the former church organist retired. Jett said it is increasingly difficult to find church organists in the music field.

Barnes started piano lessons as a young grade school student and continued through college, getting a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in piano from Tift College in Forsyth.

Barnes said being an accompanist takes hours of concentration and repetition in practicing.

“I still want to improve my skill as a teacher and as an accompanist,” Barnes said. “Playing a musical instrument is not all emotional with sounds flowing effortlessly. It is academic.”

After serving as a pianist at her home church in Carrolton, Barnes became a pianist at the Powder Springs First Baptist Church 35 years ago. She was honored by the church at a reception on Nov. 10.

During that time, Barnes has played at baby dedications, weddings, seasonal programs, and worship services, including accompanying children’s choirs, youth groups, and even soloists and ensembles.

“Sue has been a foundation of our music ministry for many years,” Jett said.

Barnes said traditional church hymns offer great theology and harmony, yet there are “wonderful writers and arrangers who produce thrilling varieties of styles” to choose from for contemporary pieces.

“I am not closed-minded to one particularly. I am open to all,” Barnes said.

The productions will be Dec. 7 and 8 at 6:30 p.m. with church choir, orchestra and hand bells with special guest Allison Speer. Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. with children singing at Christmas. Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. Candlelight Christmas. An evening with contemporary worship and arts ministry, with special guests The Classy Chicks Trio. Dec. 25 at 5 p.m.: Christmas Eve communion services.

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