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Church’s monthly song services bring Highland Home community togethercomment (0)

December 22, 2005

By Bethany Dye

If you hear good gospel music floating up from south Alabama, then it’s most likely coming from Magnolia Baptist Church, Highland Home, in Alabama-Crenshaw Baptist Association.
The church is known for its monthly gospel singings. Church members have been using these musical events to reach out to the community for more than 20 years, said church secretary/treasurer Doris Beck. 
Beck books gospel groups from all over the Southeast on a love-offering basis. The church then distributes fliers to spread the word in the community.
“We view these singings as worship services, not just entertainment,” said Pastor Billy Shirley. “We fight the mentality that we’re coming just to be entertained.”
He added, “Some people think you can only have church on Sunday, but the Bible says that if two or three are gathered together in God’s name, He is there in their midst.”
According to Shirley, former Magnolia Baptist Pastor Chuck Francisco started the monthly singings as an outreach ministry out of his “love for music and love for souls.”
Held at 7 p.m. the second Saturday of each month — except in December — the singings remain popular among residents of the Highland Home area. 
Shirley called the gatherings a melting pot, noting that many who attend are from sister Baptist churches and churches of various denominations. People from the community, including some who would not attend a regular Sunday service, also pour into Magnolia Baptist. 
Before the singing begins, Shirley leads the congregation in prayer and shares a few words. 
He said the singings are not constrained by agendas or time limits. 
Many have made decisions to follow Christ or rededicated their lives to God during the singings, he said.
“The times I’ve had at the singings have meant a lot to me,” Beck said. “I’m thankful we have a church where people can come to fellowship together and have a good time.”
Those attending the singings don’t just come to listen — they enjoy singing along with the songs they know. Beck said she has even gotten the opportunity to sing with a few of the gospel groups.  
She said she looks forward to hearing the groups and singers she books, such as Marvin Morrow, a bluegrass gospel musician from Tennessee, who is scheduled for next year.
After services, those who attend enjoy a meal provided by Magnolia Baptist members.

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