In 1968, the youth choir recorded “When the Morning Comes,” a long-play album that featured their Southern gospel heritage and musical style. In 1970, the choir produced a second album with more of the same genre of music.
The theme song of the first album was led by the males of the youth choir.
Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress, one of the performers on the album, said, “The one that I think brought back a lot of memories is Gary Griffith’s ‘The King is Coming.’ I can still see him doing that song. Gary was very introverted, but when he sang that song, he came alive. In true Waterville fashion, people responded with exuberance.”
She commented on Waterville’s long-standing reputation for highly spirited, very engaging worship services.
“When Gary sang the song, people shouted, said amen, and showed their excitement. ‘Jesus is Coming Soon’ was a really popular song as well,” she said. “Our leaders were very effective in choosing songs we did well. Also, the church was very supportive of the work of the youth choir. They brought in teachers who taught us to sing. They brought in Roosevelt Miller, Jimmy Hall, among others. That’s how committed the church was to helping the youth choir succeed.”
Among the songs on the CD are “He’s Everything to Me”; “In the Shelter of His Arms”; “Then I Met the Master”; “Until Then”; “Beautiful City of Gold”; “The King is Coming”; “Jesus, My Savior”; and “One More River.”
Many of the youths grew up and left Cleveland, “but their connections here are still very strong,” Burress said.
Linda Stephens and Reba Davis, the church’s present-day pianist and organist, accompanied the youth choir in all the worship services and on all their trips as they sang the Gospel around Bradley County.
Those relationships with the youth choir will be renewed on Sept. 18 and 19 when many of the former youth choir members will return to Waterville for the church’s 60th anniversary homecoming.
On Saturday, there will be a fellowship supper in the J.C. Trewhitt Family Life Center at 5:30 p.m. Sunday morning worship will feature a testimony by Jane Hobbs and a message from her husband, former pastor Roger Hobbs.
For more information on either the homecoming or the CD, contact the church office at 423-472-5582. The church Website is www.watervillebaptist.com.