Slade Alday said when he and fellow worship pastor Josh Wilhoit started planning an association-wide hymn sing with a combined choir, they wondered who would come.
“We thought it might be just his choir and my choir,” said Alday, who serves at Rehobeth Baptist Church in Dothan.
But when he and Wilhoit, worship and outreach pastor at Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Dothan, opened it up to the association, they “found out what the capacity is on our platform at Rehobeth,” Alday said, noting that at least seven churches were represented in the choir. “We had 110 bodies crammed in chairs on the stage.”
And that didn’t count everyone else who showed up July 30 to sing traditional and modern hymns.
Alday said it showed him again something that God had started to show him over a year ago — that being deeply rooted in the message of the gospel and singing it in hymn form is a treasured practice for a lot of people.
“In the spring of 2022, I had an idea of wanting to do a traditional hymn sing, but I had senior adults in mind as a target audience initially,” he said.
He reached out to Wilhoit and a couple of other local worship pastors and asked them to pick out their five favorite hymns they grew up with, then they got together and led a hymn sing on a Tuesday morning.
More than 100 people showed up.
“We had a ton of fun,” Alday said.
Keeping it going
In July 2022, they held another one and opened it up to a wider audience. They had a packed house.
“We sang old hymns but also modern hymns by writers like the Gettys, Matt Papa and Sovereign Grace,” Alday said. “The new ones might sound a little different, but it’s the same old, old story.”
Then July 30, they decided to try the combined choir and got a great response.
“Whether it’s the songs we sang as a kid or songs written two years ago, it’s so cool to hear those people singing the gospel — the sufficiency of the cross and the sufficiency of Christ, from Genesis to the maps,” Alday said.
Wilhoit said much of that joint effort has been born out of the relationships built in cohorts started by John Thomas, mission strategist for Southeast Alabama Baptist Association. Wilhoit and Alday are both in a cohort of area worship pastors.
Connecting for gospel ministry
“It’s been really healthy as we’ve sought to be churches serving other churches — that’s a big thing in our association right now,” Wilhoit said. “We’ve developed some strong roots … we talk ministry and care for one another spiritually from an accountability standpoint, encouraging one another in the struggles of ministry. And we formulate thoughts on how our churches can connect for gospel ministry.”
Providing ways for people to sing the gospel to each other in the form of hymns has been a great partnership so far, he said. “We’ve had a ton of great feedback and want to see how frequently we can do it and do it well.”
Alday said “hymnody has taken on a new life, had a rebirth in our association.”
‘Get the church singing’
He said he’s not against singing other types of music, “we just don’t want to abandon the truth or the singability of hymns.”
“That’s the whole point — to get the church singing,” Alday said. “We just get it started and hopefully get out of the way.”
The association’s next joint hymn sing will be in December at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Dothan, date to be announced.