Gospel music carrying the message that God hears our prayers rang out from Armadale Baptist’s Community Arts Hub in June as the church held its first community GospelFest concert in three years.
Four secular choirs, including two from Armadale’s Community Arts Hub, performed for a packed house of around 200 people with well-known titles such as Freedom is Coming, Wade in the Water, O-o-h Child, and Standing in the Need of Prayer.
Leading one choir was Armadale’s Pastor Jude Waldron who said the songs “spoke of being deeply human and yet also deeply spiritual”.
“All of our choir’s items were about prayer, from calling for God’s help, to a sense of hope and that you’re not alone, to reassurance that it’s going to get better, and that God is there and hearing you – He hears every word. It was just an amazing experience to sing these lyrics together.”
She said people were encouraged in many ways by the event.
“If you wanted a secular event, it was that – like a concert. Yet if you were open to having an encounter with God in some way, you had that too. If you wanted to have your spirit lifted and join in with your own voice in singing and praise, you could. If you wanted some encouragement and challenge, that was there too.”
It has taken a long time for Jude’s singers to regroup after covid lockdowns, as some members left, new ones joined, and some were unable to attend regularly. GospelFest was the first time the choir performed a full 15–20-minute set of songs together since the restrictions eased.
“This was the moment we were a team again, a connected group of people. The difference in the community feel was huge. There was a sense that we’re strong together, and a sense of unity.”
The audience clapped, stomped, danced and sang along to almost two hours of gospel music at the event. At the end, the four choirs combined to sing I’m Glad To Be In The Choir, along with the audience who had learned the lyrics during the concert’s stage changeovers.
Jude endeavours to make the choir a “safe and gracious space” for people who are interested in gospel music to sing together, grow in their musical ability, and experience the love of God.
Over the past few years Armadale Baptist Church has renovated its 120-year-old building to create performance and training spaces that promote community through the arts.