Over Memorial Day Weekend we packed up and drove to Carnesville, Georgia for the Indian Creek Memorial Day Weekend Gospel Singing. We attended this sing for the first time last year (2014) and fell in love with the area, church staff and atmosphere the weekend promoted. This year they had fantastic talent lined up and I couldn’t wait for the road trip to begin! After checking the forecast, we packed appropriately for 90 degree weather…or so we thought!
When we pulled into the church parking lot the weather was perfect. A slight breeze greeted us and there wasn’t one iota of humidity in the air. A golf cart chauffeured us down to the tent entrance, The Harvesters were on stage singing He Set Me Free and you could smell all sorts of good things from the concession stand – it was going to be the perfect night for a sing.
The Harvesters completed their set with Because He Lives, a Bluegrass song and Living In Canaan Land. Danny Jones ascended the stage to bring on the next artist. Commenting on the old songs that the Harvesters sang, he said, “Great songs never go away, they’re just passed down to other singers.” Danny went on to talk about the Harvesters, “When they introduced the group and came to Danny Parker, I could tell what you all were thinking when you heard the name Parker. I could see the wheels turning and the answer is yes, Danny and Ivan are brothers!”
After that introduction, Ivan Parker appeared on stage and kicked off his set with 24 Hours a Day. I had to smile at his yellow and grey patterned suit jacket. It wasn’t too wild, but I suppose only Ivan could get away with wearing something like that! It had been a while since I saw Ivan in concert and I was excited to hear the new songs that were added to his program. His next three songs were Sail On, Don’t Hang Your Head and Cry and He Touched Me. After the stirring ballad, Ivan asked, “If we had a testimony time tonight, that would be a good one. How many have experienced His touch on your life?” Some raised their hands and some clapped, but the answer the crowd gave was a resounding yes. He also teased the crowd because folks kept walking in the tent with ice cream and no one was bringing any to him! LOL! Then, he sang a song that Bill Gaither wanted him to do for a Homecoming concert and Ivan related how he gave Bill a hard time because it was a convention song and he’s only a soloist! Bill said, “Just do your best.” Well, Ivan did and the result was the convention song, Jesus Loves Me, and Ivan sang all four parts! Ivan went on to introduce his son Josh and have him play something on the guitar when suddenly, Danny Jones ran on stage bringing Ivan a bowl of ice cream. Ivan exclaimed, “The best promoter in Gospel Music!” It was a fun moment. Josh played his solo Days of Elijah, Ivan followed him by singing his new solo Till the Shackles Fall Off and then it was time for the closing song. “You didn’t come because you had to,” Ivan began, “you came because you had the freedom to come and worship Him in times of joy and in times of sorrow, and even though there are disappointments in life you still come to worship God. We should get up every day and thank God that we have the freedom to do this. We have some heroes in our midst.” After those heroes stood, Ivan sang God Bless America to them.
It was a bittersweet weekend. That’s what Danny Jones called it when he brought up Pastor Bill Stacy, not just to take the offering for the night, but to explain to folks that May 31st was Pastor Bill’s last Sunday as pastor of Indian Creek. Pastor Bill had been on a mission’s trip in the Philippines when he felt God calling him to missions and now, after the 31st of May he would be going to Virginia for training and then on to Brazil in the fall, where he will serve for three years. Bill explained his call and let everyone know that the church would still be hosting a sing next year. After prayer, the offering was collected and the next group brought on stage.
“Year after year after year we hear you say ‘we want that blonde back,’” Danny teased, “So here she is! From Dahlonega, Georgia Karen Peck and New River!” KPNR started with I Wanna Know How It Feels, On the Banks of the Promised Land and a new song, Hallelujah For the Cross. The sun had just went down and my, oh my, was it chilly! Throughout KPNR’s set folks would leave the tent, go to their campers and come back with jackets or blankets. I had a thin sweater on (I was prepared for the 90 degree weather ya’ know!) and thought I was going to freeze! Karen began talking about her husband’s journey with cancer and how their new song, Pray Now, has impacted them. “This song connects with the people.” Karen said. And it did. There were more than a few tears shed that evening as Karen wept telling Ricky’s story. Yet, even through such heartache you can see the faith they’ve had and how the experience has drawn them closer to God. When Karen said, “Now we know what so many of you have gone through…” it brought tears to my eyes. “It’s getting a little later and it’s a little chilly out here,” Karen began, and then asked, “How many remember the old tent revivals?” She talked about going to revivals growing up, which led into their song Revival. Robe and Crown, Everybody’s Going Through Something and Four Days Late closed out their set.
After intermission, all the artists came back on stage to sing a few songs together. The Harvesters sang one, KPNR sang Ephesians 1 and Ivan did his best impression of Jake Hess on I Met the Master. Danny Jones teased Ivan, saying, “These folks in the audience are good people, but if you don’t sing Midnight Cry they will let the air out of your bus tires.” LOL So Ivan sang Midnight Cry and When I Get Carried Away. As they were getting ready to end the night, Ivan’s brother Danny said, “We have a lot of Indian in our family but we finally made it to Indian Creek!” Pastor Bill closed the night in prayer and we were dismissed.
Conclusion: I do have to admit, there is always an adventure around the corner when we hit the road. Though the situation is seldom funny at the time, in the end, we always laugh about it. We packed for 90 degree weather – after all, this would be an outdoor sing and we all know how hot it gets under those big tents! Well…we were wrong about that on the first night! It was freezing! Danny Jones said that they never have had such a temperature drop like that in all 15 years of the sing! But we had a great a time and I suppose a story to tell in the days to come…