According to Wikipedia, purveyor of all truth and knowledge on the Internet (right?), “Gladys Knight joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1997. She had occasionally teased LDS Church President, the late Gordon B. Hinckley, that his flock needs to inject some "pep" into their music. Knight created and now directs the Mormon-themed choir Saints Unified Voices (http://www.suvchoir.org/). SUV has released a Grammy Award-winning CD titled One Voice, and occasionally performs at Mormon church firesides.”
One such fireside was held in Seattle this past weekend, and Angie and I were able to attend. If I had to sum it all up in one word, I would say “WOW”. If I had to sum it up in a few paragraphs, well, that’s what you’re going to get now.
This was definitely not your typical, run-of-the-mill, LDS fireside. In fact, it was quite uncomfortable at first. After all, have you ever been in the chapel clapping and cheering during I Am a Child of God, Because I Have Been Given Much, and throughout someone’s personal testimony? Have you ever been in a chapel fully decked out with rock band regalia, including keyboards, electric guitars, and speakers bigger than you are? It took some getting used to. I believe I adjusted a little quicker than Angie did. To me it simply felt like I was back in Oklahoma at a typical Baptist service.
As the choir first entered, the music was blaring, everyone was on their feet and many were clapping to the beat. After everyone was settled, the meeting was opened by a local leader who advised, “I felt as if some of the clapping was a bit timid for the occasion. Don’t worry, we’ve checked with Salt lake and they’ve confirmed that this building is structurally sound enough to withstand whatever level of clapping you can attain this evening. So relax, have a good time, and let the choir and Sis. Knight know you appreciate their talents they’ve decided to share with us tonight.”
After that, everyone loosened up. Despite the uneasy feeling at first, the performance of Sis. Knight and the choir was simply amazing, such that one could hardly keep from clapping in beat and applauding at the conclusion of each song. And yet at the same time one would’ve been hard pressed to not feel the spirit that attended throughout the entire performance. The songs were simply amazing. The choir and its members were phenomenal. Throughout the evening there were several soloists who performed, all of which were incredible. There were songs performed in Spanish and Hawaiian (is that the name of the native tongue???) which were beautiful. I just don’t know that there’s anything I can say that will let you fully appreciate how great this event was. As an official fireside there was no charge for attending, however, tickets had to be obtained as there was limited seating available. I don’t think I’ve seen a stake center that full of people before. In short, if any of you hear about this fireside coming to your stake, do yourself a favor and plan on attending. Not in any way to discount the wonderful performances, the highlight of the night by far was hearing Sis. Knight’s personal testimony and conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here’s a little tidbit of info for any of you mission friends who may be reading this. In the pamphlet of information that was distributed to the wards in promotion of this event, one stake president said, “You can’t emphasize enough what a powerful missionary tool this event is. Until you are there and hear the testimonies of Sis. Knight and her husband, you cannot appreciate the opportunity you are about to be given.” That stake president was none other than Gordon Bean, Stake President of the Oklahoma City South Stake. I couldn’t believe it when I read it. I mean, I can believe it, Bishop Bean was always amazing, and his family is incredible, I was just really surprised to see his name listed there and to know that he’s now the stake president. Anyone who served in the Moore Ward, coming up on about 10 years ago now (yikes I’m old), will know what I’m talking about. The Beans fed the missionaries every week, Tuesday’s if I’m not mistaken. And I don’t just mean that they fed 2 missionaries, they fed all the missionaries in the ward, which, when I was there, numbered no less than 6 at any given time, and was sometimes upwards of 8. My first mission Christmas was spent at the Bean’s home. Every missionary loved the Bean’s and they took care of every missionary. They were every missionaries mission family away from home. I am very happy to see them ever progressing in the Gospel.