Holiday concert brings congregations together

MIDDLEBURY — This Tuesday evening, the Charter House Coalition will host a concert at the United Methodist Church in Middlebury. Now in its eighth year, this annual concert brings together musicians from at least six churches in Addison County, as well as others, who will share their musical gifts with the audience.
Kevin Parizo, from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, will be the organist and accompanist for the concert. Matthew Wollam-Berens, the pastor for Helen Porter Rehab and Porter Hospital, will perform the gathering music on the harp. The Kafumbe and Colley families, along with other individuals and groups from the Middlebury Congregational, Vergennes Methodist, Middlebury United Methodist and East Middlebury United Methodist churches will also perform. Plus there will be a special guest who used to sing for the Eagles and ’76ers games.
“Each group picks whatever their favorite music is,” said Tom Colley, who organizes the event. “It’s a wide variety of music, not necessarily only Christmas music. Then we’ll have a hymn sing-a-long with the whole congregation — it sounds really good.”
All are welcome to come listen and sing, enjoy refreshments and help support the Charter House, which provides overnight housing and meals for people in need during the winter months. Admission to the concert is free. Free will offerings are appreciated and will benefit the Charter House’s goal to renovate the house and stay open for all 12 months of the year.
Colley, a volunteer and ex-board member of the Charter House Coalition, estimates that the event will bring in close to $2,000 that will help defray the cost of trying to stay open during the summer.
“It’s become a big, comprehensive operation,” said Colley of the Charter House, which opened as a shelter in 2005. “They have a day program for people trying to learn new skills, as well as overnight rooms for individuals as well as families… It’s grown to accommodate the needs of the community.”
The concert will begin at 7 p.m. and wrap up around 8:15 p.m., on Tuesday, Dec. 18 (which also happens to be Colley’s birthday).
“Many people say this is the highlight of their season and it’s what they look forward to the most,” Colley said. “I enjoy doing it because our family really likes to sing. And singing with 40 or 50 other really good singers is fun… The roof gets blown off when the organ gets going.”
Mark your calendars, hum a few scales and get ready to enjoy a lively evening of holiday spirit this Tuesday.

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