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Local gospel choir welcomes nationally known Louisiana pastor

The Newton County Celebration Choir will be in concert on June 1 at The Church At Covington.

The Newton County Celebration Choir will be in concert on June 1 at The Church At Covington.

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The Newton County Celebration Choir's concert will feature Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. and his Changing A Generation Sanctuary Choir.

What began as one small concert performed for friends and family of three churches in Newton County has transformed into a significant gospel music performance group. Three years after its inception, NC3, which is an acronym for Newton County Celebration Choir, has a busy concert schedule and a performance coming up featuring a renowned gospel recording artist.

NC3 will be in concert on June 1, at The Church at Covington featuring Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. and his Changing A Generation Sanctuary Choir. Morton, senior pastor of Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Church in New Orleans, has a daily radio show and a nationally broadcast television show, as well as a number of award-winning songs and albums.

Morton just released his latest album, "Your Best Days Yet." His recordings most familiar to gospel music fans include "Let It Rain," "I'm Still Standing," "Healing Hands," "We Offer Christ," "As For Me and My House" and "Crescent City Fire," to name a few.

Born into a family of preachers in Canada, which includes his mother, father, brothers and sisters all receiving the calling to preach, Morton left the family to follow God's call for him to go to New Orleans. He became affiliated with the Greater St. Stephens Church, which was a small congregation in 1972. Under his leadership, the church has become the largest black church in Louisiana, with three locations.

"We are super excited," said Shari Thomas, Newton County native and founder of NC3. "This will be his first time in the Covington-Newton County area and we are ecstatic to have him and his choir. I think this may be one of the biggest gospel concerts in Covington I can remember."

Tickets are $15 in advance for the concert, which should last about two hours, Thomas said. Tickets are $20 at the door and a limited number of $50 VIP tickets are available for those who want a front row seat, a backstage visit with the performers and a photo with Bishop Morton.

Thomas said this is a big event for the local community choir, which will also perform that evening. The concert is at 6 p.m. and doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the website www.nc3summer.eventbrite.com or from any member of NC3. Children 5 and younger are admitted free of charge.

The Newton County Celebration Choir began in 2010, in what everyone thought would be a one-time fellowship of three local churches -- Union Grove United Methodist Church, James Paschal Baptist Church and New Beginnings Full Gospel Ministry.

"After our one concert, churches started asking us to come to their church and sing," Thomas said. "We kept accepting. Because of the love, it kept going. We have an awesome time and travel all over the Atlanta area. We've got an upcoming event in Palmetto."

Today, NC3 is 50 members strong with almost half a dozen instrumentalists playing for the community group, which now includes singers from 15 area churches.

"We even have pastors who sing with us," Thomas said.

Thomas, who is the music minister of Union Grove United Methodist Church, had the idea to bring the three churches together back in 2010, for a fellowship of music.

"Although the name says Newton County, we have members from neighboring counties such as Morgan, Rockdale, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Walton," she said.

NC3 performs two local concerts each year -- one at Christmas and one in the summer. The upcoming June concert will be the summer concert in Newton County.

As for the rest of its concert schedule, Thomas said, "If we're available, we go."

The June 1 concert will be at The Church at Covington, which is located at 11975 Ga. Highway 142 in Oxford. Thomas said the sanctuary will seat up to 1,300 that evening.