The Wisconsin Seminary Lutheran Chorus is conducted by professor James P. Tiefel.
Being chosen as one of the concert destinations by the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Chorus is a huge honor for Abiding Grace Lutheran Church because the renowned group only makes one tour a year and selects only a dozen churches throughout the U.S. at which to perform, according to the Rev. Jonathan E. Scharf, pastor of the Covington church.
"It's an awesome thrill to have the seminary chorus come and sing for us here for several reasons," Scharf said. "First of all, the music they present is always top-notch and yet they keep the message of our Savior's victory for us front and center throughout. I've been able to hear them a couple of times in concert at their home in Wisconsin, but I'm excited that the people of Newton and Rockdale counties have this opportunity as well."
The Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Chorus, which will perform in Covington on Sunday, March 3, at 10:30 a.m., is comprised of men studying for the pastoral ministry at the denomination's seminary in Mequon, Wis.
The seminary is a post-graduate school owned and supported by members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Since its founding in 1863, the school has trained students to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The seminary is located on an 80-acre campus in Mequon, a suburb of Milwaukee.
"This is where all the pastors in our church body are trained and is also the seminary from which we receive our vicars each year," the Abiding Grace pastor said. "Since their first priority is training for the pastoral ministry, they only make one tour a year and can only visit about a dozen churches on that tour, so to be one of those chosen is special."
The upcoming visit is special in a personal way for Scharf, who says he has some "history" with the chorus.
"My grandpa was one of its founders and its president most of its first year," he said. "Then my dad and I also both sang and served as president with the chorus during our seminary years and now my brother and our congregation's vicar from last year is on this tour, as well."
The pastor also said it is especially meaningful for the seminary chorus to visit at this time because the church is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Abiding Grace first worshiped as a congregation in Covington on March 9, 2003.
"Since then God has blessed us in so many ways," Scharf said. "He's given us the thrill of seeing his work in so many lives he's used us to reach. He's given us a beautiful place to worship him and he's let us help so many people, all to the glory of God."
The pastor said that throughout the month of March, the church will celebrate its milestone first with the upcoming concert, followed by its 10th Anniversary Service on March 10, where the Rev. Jon Schroeder, a pastor from Sharpsburg, will bring the message.
Schroeder is the pastor whom Scharf said helped "gather the group that called me to be their first full-time pastor" at the Covington church. After the service, there will be a banquet with entertainment by the choirs of Abiding Grace.
Earlier this week, the church held its Ash Wednesday service and Lenten midweek meditations will be held every Wednesday from Feb. 20 to March 20, beginning with a soup supper at 6:15 and service at 7 p.m.
On March 23, the church will host "Easter4Kids." All children ages 3 to 10 can register for that event at e4k.abidinggrace.com. On March 24, Abiding Grace will host the Prep Singers from Luther Preparatory High School as it brings its concert tour to Covington, a privilege that is just as rare as hosting the seminary chorus, Scharf said.
On Easter Sunday, March 31, Abiding Grace will begin the day with an outdoor sunrise service (weather permitting) at 7 a.m. The Easter celebration is at 10:30 a.m. followed by a light lunch and an Easter egg hunt for all the kids.
"Everything is free and we can't wait to see all the friends and neighbors who come out to celebrate with us," the pastor said.
Abiding Grace Lutheran Church is located at 5500 Ga. Highway 212 in Covington. The church offers Sunday School and adult Bible study at 9:15 a.m. with worship every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday confirmation class for middle school students is at 5:45 p.m. and teen Bible study is at 5:45 p.m. On Wednesdays at 7 p.m., the church hosts adult Bible study, youth group and Kids Club.
Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Loganville. If you have a story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.