By Melissa Conrad Rushville Republican
---- — The third annual Gospel Sing will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Rushville Riverside Park Amphitheater and the community is invited to come out to this inspiring event.
This year’s Gospel Sing is expected to run approximately two hours. At the conclusion, Holy Communion will be offered to all those that wish to partake.
The non-denominational service will give people their own private time to think about what they want to reflect on during the music without words and sermons that tell them what to think. It will be an authentic evening where they will let the Gospel music do its own work in transforming lives of those who join them.
“When words fall short, music has a way to touch much deeper,” said Rev. Carol Wiley, who serves on the organizing committee. “It’s a healing balm, a salve. It’s a way to touch people.”
Organizers hope the musical experience will help transform people with, “an oasis of calm.”
Come early, bring a picnic dinner, lawn chairs and even blankets if there will be a chill in the air. The Gospel Sing is free and the public is invited and encouraged to attend this uplifting event.
Rev. Wiley will welcome everyone to the Gospel Sing. A patriotic opening will be performed by Scott Evans. Performers during the evening will include the Plum Creek Praise Bank and Vocals, Anna Smith, the Kelly Family, Carol Tressler singing, “You Raised Me Up,” followed by Scott Wildey, including a duet by Wildey and Tressler.
John Mikkah Thompson will also be featured during the evening. John’s performance will be followed by Annie Frost and the group Harmony also performing. “Surely the Presence” will be the communion song for those who wish to partake. The order of the performers is subject to change.
Performer John Mikkah Thompson’s life is a unique story he and his family willingly share. John was born Dec. 20, 1993 to Grant and Tammy Thompson of Shelby County. It wasn’t until John was past the age when most kids start talking that his family knew they had been given a unique child.
“At first, autism seemed a little scary for us, but as John grew it became clear that he would become a huge joy in our lives,” his parents say.
His father says, “When John was about 5 years old, I was taking piano lessons and failing badly. I bought a pretty nice little keyboard so I was determined to see it through. After a lot of perfectly good money was thrown away on the lessons, I decided to face the fact that I wasn’t going to be a musician. This is where the real reason for buying the keyboard came to pass…whenever John walked past the keyboard he wanted to reach out and push the keys. He was fascinated by the sound and his eyes would always get that shine to them when he hit the keys. As a parent looking for any way to connected with my child who couldn’t talk to me, I made the decision to put the keyboard in his room and show him how to turn it off and on… It was rarely ever in the ‘off’ mode. John was as happy as could be because he was in control of something. When he pushed the keys, he was making something happen!”
“None of us expected what came next,” his father continues. “I never liked sleeping in a quiet house so there was always music playing at night when we slept, always. By the time John was 6 or so he began mimicking the sounds that he heard at night. He was teaching himself to play real music! It wasn’t long before he figured out how to add violin, guitar, harp, organ and drums to his creation. The thing is, I didn’t show him how to record anything and layer his music and I know he didn’t read the handbook either, because he still couldn’t talk, let alone be able to read! By the time John was 8 years old he could listen to just about anything and play it the same day.”
By the time John was 15 or so and his voice changed, it began to mature into a pure sound of singing dynamite; to this day John sings almost every weekend at one church or another, sharing his gift of music and song, proclaiming what God did for him.
“When you meet John, he is friendly and smiling and very glad to meet you. It is clear that he is autistic after getting to know him a little bit, but when he holds the microphone in his hands or sits down behind the piano, a miracle takes place before your eyes. All the autism disappears and you would never know that it even existed,” his dad continued.
Members of The Gospel Sing Committee include Danny Mathews, Linda Mathews, Nancy Mitchell, Floyd Wiley, Carol Wiley and Mark Hackler. They volunteer their time to make this a special community event, now in its third year.
Riverside Park Amphitheater is a premier outdoor venue located at 100 West Water Street in Rushville. The venue is a great destination annually hosting live music events and creating a great family-friendly environment. Parking is conveniently available in gravel lots or in surrounding business. Special handicap parking is also available.