The grey clouds hanging above the hotel seemed to grow darker as noon approached. The moment I stepped in the shower, the tornado sirens blared their warning of woe. Not exactly a good day for an outdoor Gospel Sing, eh? But over the years, both the fans and proprietors of Beacon Park learned to conquer the elements through a strong faith that never fails. So, even though it rained from 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM on Friday, when it came time for the concert to start at seven o’clock, the rain ceased, the fans set up their folding chairs and everything started on schedule.
Beacon Park is located a few miles north of Harrison, Arkansas and is run by the pastor of Miracle Lighthouse Church, Arvin Adams, his wife Fern and daughters. To be exact, the whole church pitches in to help out when the four night sing rolls around each June. They direct parking, run the concession stand and will do anything that needs done! The Adam’s have their own group, The Lighthouse Messengers, which sing each night of the sing. This year, I was able to spend Friday and Saturday at Beacon Park with The Whisnants and McKameys appearing on Friday night and Karen Peck & New River and The Mark Trammell Quartet on Saturday.
Though the rain came pouring down in droves during the afternoon, fans of Gospel Music came pouring through the gates of Beacon Park Friday evening. It was really a perfect night to be outdoors – the rain dissipated the hot temperature of summer and left a pleasant coolness in its wake. Fans love coming to Beacon Park early to purchase dinner from the concession stand, and that area of the park becomes quite crowed at the beginning of the evening. The prices are very reasonable ($2 for nachos and cheese, $2 for chicken strips and the kids’ favorite are the 50 cent snow cones) and the food is delicious and fresh. Later on, everyone meandered to their lawn chairs and soon after, the music began…
The Whisnants were first on stage Friday night and kicked off their set with I’m in the Gloryland Way, Glorybound, We’ll Meet Again and their ever popular I’ll Pray For You. Susan expressed the need to pray for our country and after Aaron sang his feature, Be Not Afraid, she added, “Be not afraid, what a word for today.” Group introductions followed and when Susan introduced Ethan she informed the crowd that he just came home from a life-changing mission trip to Ecuador with Compassion. Ethan sang a song called 1+2+3 and then Austin, Ethan and Jeff launched into I’ll Lean on You, Lord. The Whisnants are releasing a new project in July and they gave folks a little sneak peek into what we’ll hear on that recording. The first was classic hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus and the second, a verse and chorus from a medium tempo song, Worry Ends Where Faith Begins. Then they closed out their first set with their popular tune, I’m Trusting the Blood.
The McKameys had also just released their new CD, What If, and hearing the title track was a highlight of the evening for me. Yet, all the songs the McKameys sang are favorites of mine! They performed There Is Jesus, Pure Satisfaction, Unspoken Request, I Want To Be That Man, God On The Mountain and Undeserved. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s not very many songs!” They did sing more, but being an outdoor sing with great food, folks milling around all the time and photos to take, I missed jotting down a few here and there; but I can tell you that every song was a joy to hear!
The Lighthouse Messengers sang before intermission and both The Whisnants and McKameys came back and sang a few more songs after the sun went down. After closing the evening in prayer, folks left their chairs set up for the next night and headed to their cars. Now, if you’re a coffee drinker, you’ll like this next part! Many times, the concession stand won’t sell every last drop off coffee they have before the evening ends. Instead of letting it go to waste, a few volunteers from the church will stand by the gates and offer folks free coffee in Styrofoam cups as they leave! That’s what I call service!
Though last year was my first time to Beacon Park, I can already tell that it will quickly become one of my favorite places to go each year! The grounds are beautiful, the people always wear a smiling face and the fellowship is sweet. So many people that we have met over the years at Gospel Sings go to this one, and in a way, it’s kind of like a reunion! When you add your favorite music to the lush green creation and everything listed above, you have a great weekend. 2015 at Beacon Park was amazing!