“The Fourth of July is a holiday traditionally celebrated by family and friends getting together to enjoy patriotic displays and music,” said Jan Hood, chairman of the HHE communications team.
“For 13 years now the family of faith in Cleveland and Bradley County has come together to focus on the freedoms we share both as citizens of a great nation and a great community and as believers.”
Freedom Celebration began in 1999 at Pathway Bookstore, moved to the Commons at Cleveland High School and most recently took place in the Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy gymnasium.
Hood explained, “Because our celebration continues to grow, First Baptist Church has graciously opened its doors to us to accommodate all who want to attend and to make parking easy for all ages.”
Event organizers also noted the Fourth of July is an important time to bring members of the community together.
“Our community continues to recover from the destructive storms in April 2011 and again in March of this year,” Hood said. “And many have been touched by other tragic losses in recent weeks. Any occasion to gather as a community to enjoy inspirational music, pray and fellowship helps rebuild and restore our spirits. Independence Day is a perfect time for hearts and hands to unite.”
Pianist Mary Beth Wickes, coordinator of accompanying in the School of Music at Lee University, will set the tone for the celebration with an instrumental prelude.
At 10 a.m. Steve Morgan, pastoral counselor for the host church, will welcome guests to the FBC campus.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland then will greet the community and offer an invocation. Immediately following, trumpeter Dennis Bauer will play “The Lord’s Prayer.” Bauer is widely recognized for his skill as a church musician and as a member of the Chattanooga Monday Night Big Band.
To declare a profession of loyalty to the freedoms we enjoy, Viet Nam veteran Steve Orders and his 9-year-old son, Peyton, will lead attendees in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Bauer will conclude this section by playing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem.
“No Fourth of July celebration would be complete without patriotic music and music that celebrates the religious freedoms we enjoy,” Hood continued, adding that First Baptist Church’s sanctuary choir and orchestra under the direction of Tyler Brinson will kick off the holiday observance in song.
“It’s been several years since a choir has participated in our Freedom Celebration,” Hood noted. “We’re excited that Tyler and First Baptist’s singers and instrumentalists will take part in this year’s program.”
The celebration in song will continue with music by Melanie Willetts, who serves as one of the worship leaders at Grace Community Church of God. Willetts brings to any performance a rich history as a soloist with a broad range of styles. She has been the lead soloist with the Grammy-nominated group Sacred Groove, a contemporary gospel jazz ensemble, and vocalist for the Metropolitan Big Band on their 2010 Israel tour. Willetts has served as minister of music for churches in Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee and has been a clinician at numerous workshops and conference across the country.
Special musical guests are Danny Murray and Voices of Lee. Veteran church musician Danny Murray has coached collegiate-aged musicians for over 25 years at Lee University. Murray, also a favorite choral clinician, brings practical instruction, humor and lots of heart to any setting, inspiring singers to present their musical worship with excellence.
Since their debut in September 1994, Voices of Lee, a 16-member group, has captivated audiences worldwide with their unique variety of lush vocal harmonies and intense musical focus. They have appeared on Good Morning America, at Bill Gaither’s “Family Fest” and “Praise Gathering,” and in some of America’s most noted churches and conferences. They have toured Europe with concerts at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and England’s Ely Cathedral.
Voices of Lee finished as second runner-up in NBC’s first season of “Sing-Off” competition for a cappella groups and subsequently was voted winner in one of the Favorite group categories of the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America.
They will present selections from their CDs of various themes, including Themes of America.
Dr. Debbie Murray, wife of Danny Murray and dean of the College of Education at Lee University, will sing at the conclusion of the program. Together the Murrays founded and directed the ensemble New Harvest, recording some 11 projects and touring internationally for 15 years.
Retired U.S. Navy chaplain Jerry McNabb will offer the benediction.
“This will be a great time to celebrate our faith and freedom, with some wonderful music by some talented musicians,” Hood concluded. “We invite the community to begin their Independence Day celebrations with us.”
The “Freedom Celebration” will be streaming by Steve Hartline of MYMIX 104.1 FM.
First Baptist Church is located at 1275 Stuart Road N.E. Doors for Freedom Celebration will open at 8:30 a.m.