African children's choir to perform at Salem UMC

The Ugandan Thunder choir from Africa will perform on May 1 at 7 p.m. at Salem United Methodist Church, 3962 Salem Road in Covington.

The Ugandan Thunder choir from Africa will perform on May 1 at 7 p.m. at Salem United Methodist Church, 3962 Salem Road in Covington.

Thunder is on its way, but it's the kind of thunder one wants to hear. The world-renowned Ugandan Thunder choir from Africa is coming to town next month, and everyone is invited to the free concert sponsored by Salem United Methodist Church. The group will perform at 7 p.m. May 1.

Founded by Covington native and former resident Ted Moody, the children's choir tours the U.S. sharing its message of faith, joy and hope. The 22 performers come from the Royal School and Orphanage in Mityaha, Uganda, where almost half of the 634 children enrolled at the Christian school are orphans.

"For me, there are a couple of reasons I'm excited to have them," Salem UMC Pastor Joe Peabody said. "One, I'm convinced our ministry to lift orphan children whether in our community or around the world ought to be the easiest money we've ever raised. The Scripture is clear on that ...

"When kids don't have family that can fulfill the function God intended for them, it is the Christian family responsible to step in and make that possible. That's part of it. I believe in those ministries."

Peabody said one such ministry is another that his church also supports: The Methodist Children's Home.

"My wife was adopted out of the Methodist Children's Home in Ohio," he said. "We've been married for two years and it hits closest to home. That's part of it and also because we are so wonderfully blessed in this county with resources to make available to those in greater need than we are. That ought to be something we're capable of doing, but also because we ought to do it."

The Ugandan Thunder tours the country each year and while their talents and ministry are enjoyed by many congregations, the trip itself is exciting for the youngsters.

"They have so many 'aha' moments," Moody said earlier about the kids, who range in age from 10 to 13. "The first pizza. The first ice cream. The first movie ... It just keeps life interesting."

Moody, a pastor, author and speaker who is called "Big Daddy" by the children, attended County Line Baptist Church as he was growing up in Covington. He graduated from Newton High School in 1967 and went to Middle Georgia College and Mercer University before starting his ministry as a pastor.

He and his wife, Elaine, now live in Zebulon, where their children attended the school at which Peabody's wife, Allison, teaches.

Moody served as a pastor until he went on a mission trip to Uganda and said it "changed everything."

He began an African ministry called Pennies for Posho in 2007, which has raised money to feed the children of Uganda. Posho is the primary food staple for the people of Uganda. Through this ministry, 11 orphanages are now supplied with the food. The ministry also helps provide shelter and clothing for the children, who live in one of the poorest areas of Africa.

Ugandan Thunder is sponsored by the Pennies for Posho ministry, and while the concert is free, a love offering will be taken and items made by the people of Uganda will be for sale to help support the ministry.

"Sometimes we have to look at the world around us and ask if this is the way God wants it," Peabody said. "If our answer is 'no,' some action is incumbent upon us. There are a lot of different ways to approach a problem ... but to choose not to do anything at all is clearly not what we ought to be doing."

Peabody said there is a third reason he is looking forward to hosting the group, and that is because he knows the people who lead the ministry.

"I've had a chance to get to know the folks in leadership," he said. "I don't want to exaggerate our relationship, but (Moody's) family went to school where my wife teaches in Pike County. I like them and I like what they're doing."

The community is invited to the free concert at Salem UMC, which is located at 3962 Salem Road in Covington.