Summer Choir Fest for Massachusetts Kids

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“Songs stay in your heart.” That’s one of the reasons Laurie VanderBaan has directed Choir Fest for nearly two decades.

For over 25 years, Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church in Whitinsville, Mass., has hosted a weeklong program for grade school children that includes recreation, crafts, and Bible stories, with a focus on music.

Marie Haringa, one of Choir Fest’s coordinators, agreed. “Music is an avenue to praise God.”

Each day resembles a typical vacation Bible school program with a Bible story and a craft. But unlike other VBS programs, Choir Fest devotes a good portion of the day to learning and practicing songs.

Teachers share their musical expertise, whether on the organ, string instrument, or brass instrument.

At the end of the week, each age group presents what it has learned to the children in the other groups.

The children memorize all the songs and perform them in a Sunday church service at the end of the week. After the service, there is a picnic for everyone in a local park.

The coordinators believe it is important to fill children’s minds with songs of worship and praise, and that music is an important part of developing faith. “You never know how God works,” VanderBaan said.

About the Author

Callie Feyen is a writer living in Ann Arbor, Mich. She attends First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Callie writes news for The Banner and contributes to Coffee+Crumbs, and T.S. Poetry Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is the author of The Teacher Diaries: Romeo and Juliet, and Twirl: My Life in Stories, Writing, & Clothes.