February 19, 2012

Western PA. Conference (of the) United Methodist (Church) Ministers’ Chorus





     Last Thursday evening my husband Monte and I traveled to the First United Methodist Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where the Western Pennsylvania Conference United Methodist Ministers’ Chorus presented a sacred concert.


     Before continuing, I must tell you that the most interesting thing I learned during the evening was exposed when the pastors, thirteen men and nine women, introduced themselves. Here is a piece of United Methodist Church minister’s trivia:




     Those persons who attended the concert to hear the wonderful music learned how much the singers like this vegetable.

      The tale began when one member introduced the subject. After announcing his name and church, he expressed his gratitude for the evening meal prepared by the church. He then announced that he was especially “thankful I had Brussels sprouts for dinner, and I found a great recipe for jell-o salad.

     This pastor started the Brussels sprout rolling. Several other singing pastors confessed that they, too, liked the veggie that was included on the dinner menu.

     When I grew up my father called them knobby greens, Millie told us.

     My friend Lola’s introduced herself, and opined that there were no Brussels sprouts left when I went through the line. Her conclusion: They must mean something to the group.

     The Rev. Steve Morse, pastor of the host church, introduced himself last. He took credit for the fact that the dinner menu included this most favored veggie when he said They were made tonight because I like Brussels sprouts. He must have been in the dinner line ahead of Lola, because he stated that there were only five left when I got to them. If there’s anything the group likes almost as much as music, it’s Brussels sprouts.

     Then, of course, there is always the rebel in every group. The choir was no different. One pastor said he was thankful they had pie and ice cream.

     When the introductions ended, the Rev. Morse announced that the audience would be quizzed later on. The winner would be the person who could list the most of the singer’s names and where they were from.

     The prize? A package of Brussels sprouts.


     We request that you don’t applaud—rather say Praise the Lord or Amen.

     “We don’t do this for you—or for the applause—we do it for the Lord,” said the Rev. Morse.

     “People don’t listen,” I whispered to Monte when, by the second and third song, people applauded. They increasingly applauded with each successive musical presentation. At the end of the program the singing pastors received a standing ovation that included a no-holds-barred applause.

     It was difficult not to applaud. Not only was the music done well, but as listeners, we naturally want to show our pleasure with a coming together of the hands. When I caught myself in the act of applauding, several times, I immediately stopped and quietly said Amen.


     The musical selections were well chosen. The choir began with two contradictory pieces by Pepper Choplin: Wake Up, Church, Wake Up! and Close Your Eyes and See, The latter piece invites you to close your eyes to see God’s glory, the wonder of God. The program segment ended with On the Jerico Road.

     The women’s chorus, under the direction of Bruce Knapp,sang a medley, Let There Be Peace On Earth/I’ve Got Peace Like a River, followed by Give Thanks and Elijah Rock.

     The men’s chorus rang out the tune With a Voice of Singing, Proclaim the Glory of the Lord, and Medley of the Cross.

     Look at the World, Kyrie (a word the choir couldn’t pronounce, according to the Rev. Morse), and With All My Heart a Medley, sung by the combined choir, ended the program.


     Although the Ministers’ Chorus has existed for sixty or more years, it had never performed in the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church (15 East Second Street). The Rev. Steve Morse, said that the chorus members, comprised primarily of United Methodist clergy and clergy spouses, travel from all parts of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church*. They do this at their own expense for the enjoyment of the music and the fellowship within the group. Some of them are retired.

     Two choir members, the Rev. Bill Schmeling and the Rev. Harry Sherry, have a long-term history with the group—about fifty-three years. A former choir member, the Rev. Jay Shaffer, was in the audience.


     This is the second time Monte and I have heard the Minister’s Chorus sing. In December they sang at Heritage United Methodist Church in Ligonier, a hop, skip, and jump from our home. Each time we were impressed with the singing, the choice of music, the camaraderie of the singers, and their joy of singing.

     Their next concert is March 15th at Saegertown United Methodist Church. If you are able to attend you will be rewarded with an excellent sacred musical presentation.


*The Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church extends to the state’s western border with Ohio, north to the New York border, south to the West Virginia border, and east to DuBoise, including Shinglehouse on the New York Border and Hyndman on the Maryland border.  

NOTE: For more on Brussels sprouts, click on



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