WILMOT — In honor of their first anniversary as a congregation, River Ridge Church in Wilmot will be hosting the Chorale and Repertory Singers of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago on Sunday.
The program will be at 10 a.m. at Wilmot High School. In addition to performing sacred music, the ensemble will be leading the morning worship service.
Founded in 1946, the chorale has long been established as one of America’s leading collegiate choral organizations specializing in sacred music. Repertory Singers is comprised of advanced readers in chorale who rehearse separately one day a week to learn additional repertoire. Moody Chorale’s Section Leaders are members of Repertory Singers.
The chorale is conducted by Xiangtang Hong, professor of music and director of the Moody Chorale. She earned a doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and joined Moody’s faculty in 2006. She enjoys sharing her love for music and conducting as a choral clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor, but her greatest joy is in being a mentor to her students.
“We consider it an honor to be hosted by local churches wherever we go and to present our Christian faith and Moody Bible Institute through the music we perform,” Hong said.
According to Rick DeMarco, pastor of administration, the chorale is kicking off its spring tour at River Ridge and is scheduled to perform at other locations in Wisconsin and Illinois.
“We are excited to be their first stop and very happy to have them here,” he said. “Our church is going incredibly well and after just a year, our attendance is about 200 per week already.”
Staying with church families
The group of 50 student musicians will be staying with some River Ridge Church members when they arrive in the area. DeMarco explained that once the request was out for host families, members quickly stepped up to welcome the students into their homes.
“They will be staying Saturday night and having dinner in the homes and the next morning, they will get them all to church for the service,” he said. “We will be offering a larger breakfast at 9:30 to accommodate the students and all of the extra guests in the community we are expecting.”
In past months, River Ridge has added youth ministries, expanded its children’s ministry, created small group connection groups and had a successful Vacation Bible School last summer with 125 children in attendance.
“It’s been an incredible year, and we are excited where God is taking this church,” he said. “We officially launched March 3 last year and continue to draw from this area. We never wanted to draw from other churches, but rather from those with no church home in the Twin Lakes, Genoa City and Camp Lake areas. We have some who do come from northern Illinois suburbs such as Antioch, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst, but our real heart was to serve the southern Wisconsin area that didn’t have a lot of other churches sharing the Gospel.”
One of the attributes that DeMarco said draws visitors to the congregation is the weekly hospitality at 9:30 a.m., before the worship service begins.
“We have coffee, doughnuts, and fruit and connect with others,” he said. “Each week more come and it’s our goal to be more than a weekly service, but to create a true church community. We have recently implemented a needs board where we can help each other out, if you are moving, need a ride or help with something.”
In addition to serving members of their church community, River Ridge provides outreach to the greater community. A couple of months ago, they supported the Sharing Center in Trevor by donating 200 coats, jackets, gloves and Christmas meals.
“We continue to find ways to serve the community as it is part of our DNA,” explained DeMarco. “Last summer a number of people in the church invited their neighbors over for a front-yard barbecue and got to know each other. We also are expanding our small group strategy to look at men’s groups, women’s groups, addiction and new believer groups. It is our hope to get everyone involved in some community.”