APEX, N.C. Catholic, Gospel, and Latter-day Saint choirs performed together in an unprecedented multi-faith sacred music concert March 28, that culminated a weekend of celebration events for the Apex North Carolina Stake Center, built adjacent to the Raleigh North Carolina Temple.
Groups from local faiths were invited to perform music in praise of the Savior to celebrate the almost-completed headquarters for the six-month-old stake.
St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church brought a 70-member choral ensemble with instrumental accompanists and performed beautifully. When the pulpit was electronically lowered for the Catholic choir's director, Erika Linsdell, to make a few comments, she rubbed her hands along both sides of the pulpit and told the audience, "I want one of these!"
The 14 members of "The Celestials," an African-American gospel choir from Apex First Baptist Church, overwhelmed concert-goers with their energy and sheer volume of sound. Their director, the Reverend James Hearndon, served as both cantor and piano accompanist as the Gospel group filled the chapel and open cultural hall with praises to Jesus Christ. In their closing number, the Rev. Hearndon thanked the Church "for thinking enough of us to ask us to share this event with you, as we celebrate how far we've all come." The 500-strong audience gave the group a standing ovation.
Harry J. Maxwell Jr., president of the Apex North Carolina Stake, then advised the audience to reverse gears by 250 years as Kathy Webb, Director of Music at Oxford Presbyterian Church, would demonstrate the range and colors of the stake center's organ. Ms. Webb told the audience that she had specifically chosen chorale preludes by Bach that contained the word "joy" in their titles in order to convey "the joy embodied in the celebration of this magnificent new building."
In introducing the Apex stake choir, stake music director Kent Lyman shared his dream of being able to present "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place" from Johannes Brahms' "German Requiem" in the new building, constructed in the shadow of the first temple in North Carolina. Correspondingly, the LDS choir concluded with Mack Wilberg's arrangement of "The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning."
Perhaps the most emotion-filled moment of the concert came at its conclusion, when the choirs from three different Christian faiths, as well as the audience, stood together to sing the hymn, "How Great Thou Art."