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Ontario CRC Revives Good Friday Choir Festival

Lois Thompson directs the combined choir of singers from three Frankford, Ont., congregations in the April 7, 2023, Good Friday choir festival at Community CRC in Frankford.
Mary Wolters

The community choir festival hosted by Community Christian Reformed Church in Frankford, Ont., on Good Friday (April 7), revived a village tradition almost lost over the years of COVID-19 gathering restrictions. According to Tena Groot Nibbelink, a pianist at the church and for this concert, “the ecumenical choir festival on Good Friday has been an important part of our village life for more than 20 years.”

In the early 2000s, Lois Thompson, then a worship leader at the Free Methodist Church in Frankford, invited all of the other village congregations to take part in a Good Friday choir festival, including collecting an offering to benefit The Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Several of the six Christian congregations in the village accepted the invitation. The event continued for a few years, and when the gathering outgrew the Free Methodist church building, Community CRC offered to host the Passion week concert in their larger, 250-seat sanctuary. On occasion choirs from other Christian Reformed congregations in the Bay of Quinte region (there are five within a 45-minute drive) joined those of the Frankford village churches to augment the Good Friday concert.

In March 2020, plans for the annual Good Friday choir festival were interrupted by the ban on all public gatherings, as the local public health unit responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The gathering restrictions were gradually lifted, but there was no Frankford choir festival on Good Friday in 2021, nor in 2022. When the Lenten season began this year, Groot Nibbelink decided to call local church leaders to bring back the annual festival.

“This is the one time each year that all the Christians in our village get together to celebrate our faith in song together. It is also a chance for us to reach out to the community to express our faith. Some years, we distributed flyers, and we advertise the festival on large billboard signs in town as well as in our church bulletins. Every year we have held the festival, it has been well appreciated.”

The 2023 Good Friday Choir Festival featured choirs from Community CRC and the local United Methodist and United Church of Canada congregations. Thompson, who is now the music director at the United church, told the assembly that the festival contributions to the Canada Foodgrains Bank, matched 4:1 by the Government of Canada, have provided food aid totaling more than $1 million since the festival began. 

Groot Nibbelink said this year’s attendance was about two-thirds of peak attendance, “but we all really enjoyed singing together, and I really think our Good Friday song festival is back for good.”


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