Fox Valley churches join for Palm Sunday concert
Palm Sunday -- the day Christian churches around the world celebrate the joyful, palm-strewn entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem -- will be commemorated in the Fox Valley with an ecumenical concert featuring musicians from eight area churches.
There was jubilant singing outside the Holy City that long-ago day, and there will be some of the same April 17 at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 845 W. Main St., West Dundee.
Choirs, handbells, brass, strings and clergy will be primarily provided by Bethlehem Lutheran Church, First Congregational Church, First United Methodist Church, St. James Episcopal Church and St. Catherine of Siena, all of West Dundee; Immanuel Lutheran Church, East Dundee; and First Presbyterian Church and St. Thomas More Catholic Church, both of Elgin.
First Congregational Church of Huntley and Bethel Lutheran Church of Palatine also are participating.
The 17th annual Palm Sunday Interfaith Concert is a daughter program and culmination of the Dundee Area Lenten Recital Series, six weeks of organ concerts rotating among some of these same churches. Both programs were created by organist Phyllis Connelly.
She gives credit, however, to the late Rev. Chester Boynton, who was the rector at St. James Episcopal Church when Connelly was the music director there.
"He said something he had always wanted to do was have a Lenten recital series in a different church each week," Connelly said. "It just really struck a chord with me. No pun intended, but I thought that was a very good idea."
Once she got the series going, audiences agreed.
"I can't tell you how many times people came up to me after a recital, and still do, and said, 'I've lived in Dundee for 30 years, 40 years, and I've never been in that church,'" Connelly said.
Two years later, she introduced the Palm Sunday festival idea.
"It just sort of took off," she said. By last year, the audience numbered nearly 700.
The concert program symbolically follows a Holy Week formula.
"We start out the concert, because it's Palm Sunday, with a joyous celebration," she said, "and then we select music that moves in a more somber direction because we're coming into Good Friday. We don't get to Easter because really, technically, we shouldn't."
Admission to the concert and prayer service is free, with a freewill offering to defray expenses. The event begins at 3 p.m., with a prelude of instrumental music beginning at 2:45 p.m.
Searching for God's love: Early last year, I wrote about a film that originated in Elgin but soon after its February 2010 release was already gaining national enthusiasm in some Christian circles.
"Furious Love," produced by Judson University professor Darren Wilson, takes the viewer on a worldwide tour looking for examples of the extravagant love of God in the most dire circumstances: A sex trade district in Thailand; the city dump in Madrid, Spain, where heroin addicts languish; the northeast section of India, where thousands have been murdered, as well as others.
Wilson said he went looking for God's love in the darkest of places, and what he saw, he recorded: healings and other miracles, deliverance from demons, people turning to Christ. He also interviewed Christians who are ministering in these dark places and reportedly seeing miracles on a daily basis.
"The film has been shown in over a thousand churches around the world, and the response we've been getting has been universally positive," Wilson said. "(It) has been received by pretty much every denomination I can think of in a very positive way."
Wanderlust Productions, Wilson's film company, invited the Christian workers whose interviews are an integral part of the documentary to speak last weekend at a church in his hometown of Monroe, Mich. Most of these speakers for the "Furious Love Event" are prominent ministry directors or pastors from far and near, including the Rev. Robby Dawkins of Aurora.
Wilson said more than 500 people from all over the world had registered.
"The whole event itself really came about because of what I was hearing from people around the world regarding the impact my movies were having in their churches and communities," Wilson said.
"So many people were being touched and challenged to go out and do more for God, but many didn't have a clue what to do first."
For details about "Furious Love," visit furiouslovefilm.com.
• "In the Spirit" covers churches and synagogues in the Fox Valley area; contact email@example.com to submit information or ideas for upcoming columns.