“Everybody ready?” asked the driver, “Here we go…” The golf cart holding myself, my sister, mom, grandma and another lady bumped down the hill to the big white tent. I was sitting on the back, facing the parking lot and had to turn my head to see where we were going. The tent was decorated with mini flags hanging off the rope that was staked into the ground and a row of campers sat facing the temporary shelter. We waited for the cart in front of us to unload and then our driver pulled up and let us off. Hoisting the bag with my folding chair inside over my shoulder, I joined the others in line and slowly made my way into the tent. Once inside, I eyed the stage on the far end. Hanging above was a white banner announcing, “Indian Creek Memorial Day Weekend Gospel Singing.” It felt good to be in Georgia.
Did I mention this was my first time in Georgia? It sure was, and I’m so thankful for the invitation to come that weekend. This was Indian Creek’s 14th year to host this Gospel Sing – it started Thursday evening and ended on Sunday morning. Indian Creek’s pastor, Bill Stacy, and Danny Jones put the sing together with an army of cheerful volunteers from the church.
Though there were brown folding chairs available to use in the tent, most folks brought their own lawn chairs and set up in rows. We spread out towards the back of the tent that first night and settled in to enjoy the evening. The line-up for Thursday night was The Diplomats, Gold City and The Talleys. Pastor Bill was the first on stage and gathered everyone’s attention as he recognized each branch of the military and asked the Veterans present to stand. Hanging from the top of the tent on the right hand side of the stage was a flag representing each of the different branches…Navy, Marine Core, Coast Guard, Army, etc. Pastor Bill explained that we were going to say the Pledge of Allegiance next and we had a special Veteran present to lead us, it was none other than Tim Riley of Gold City. Afterwards, he introduced the emcee for the weekend, Editor-In-Chief of the Singing News and Executive Director of the SGMA, Danny Jones.
Danny walked on stage and asked who was ready for some Gospel singing. “One more time, I can’t hear you!” he teased the audience, then brought on the first group, “Alright. This group has come to Indian Creek many times and you really seem to truly enjoy them, how about if for The Diplomats?!” Their first song was a well-known feature that put Rita Pearson’s voice in the spotlight – Sheltered in the Arms of God. Joy in the Storm, an upbeat quartet song that Corey sang, followed. Rita stepped aside allowing Harold Reed to join the group on a bass solo, There’s a Light (shining bright for me). I’ll Still Be Gone and Scars in the Hands of Jesus trailed behind. “Praise the Lord!” Jimmy exclaimed, “If you love the Lord, say amen!” Jimmy went on to tell the crowd how proud he is of their band and then he introduced them quickly; Jeremy, Zack, Corey and Jordan. The four played an instrumental that changed from song to song so quickly, it was impossible to mark down all the song titles. The solo lasted a good five minutes and the one guy switched from the guitar to the banjo at one point. (The crowd liked that!) Of course, Joe was trying to jump in with his harmonica skills, but the band just kept on doin’ their thing. LOL Jimmy took a moment to introduce Harold and explain that Harold (also known as Huggy Bear) came off the road about a year ago and when Jimmy needed help with driving the bus he called him. Well, he had him sing one night and he’s been singing with them ever since! So they featured Huggy Bear on a good tenor song – Glory Road. They encored it so we could hear that high note one more time and then they sang I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, which was encored also. “The Diplomats, ladies and gentlemen,” said Danny popping up from the side of the stage and then added, “Well, that’s not a bad way to start the weekend, is it?”
“This group here has appeared every single year when we’ve done a survey card,” said Danny, explaining how they’ve done surveys in the past to see who the crowd would like to see the following year. “From the great state of Alabama, how about it for the legendary Tim Riley and all of Gold City?” Somebody Sing Me a Gospel Song and Cast Your Bread kicked off Gold City’s program. “Smiling faces all over the place,” said Danny Riley, “You guys look great…though some of you look like you sat out in the sun too much.” He was featured next on an up-beat tune, I’m Saved, Sure and Ready to Go. As Danny R. moved from side to side of the stage on the verses the other guys huddled in the back bopping with the music. Two more snappy songs, He Will Tell Me All About It and Footprints on the Water followed. After introducing the group, Danny asked, “Y’all like old songs?” The crowd applauded and he went on, “Well, this is not an old song but it will make you think of one.” It was Tim’s solo, I Get Down. After the fast That Little Baby, Danny asked, “Where would we be without that little Baby? I’ve found that every word in the Bible, every promise is true. He keeps His promises. We serve a God who is faithful in spite of the fact that we aren’t.” He went on to talk about how hard it is to forgive ourselves sometimes, that there are things in the past we have a tendency to hold on to. “I can promise you this,” he continued, “Calvary conquers it all. Everything you will ever face is under His feet.” Following that sincere introduction was Calvary Conquers It All and I’m Not Giving Up. Tim took a moment and talked about his service and our nation. He said, “Unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to understand what they’ve (soldiers) gone through for you. America is one of the greatest places to live. There have been a lot of things sacrificed so you can do what you want to. If you ever been anywhere where folks can’t do that, you would never forget it.” I Love This Land, Gold City’s patriotic song, ended their set. When the bridge began, “God bless America…” everyone stood. Danny Jones came on stage and said, “We ought to have them come back!”
Concert promoter Bill Bailey conducted the offering that night and reminded the crowd of how his father came to know the Lord. As the buckets were passed Bryan Elliot (Gold City’s pianist) played The Old Rugged Cross. Before Bryan stepped off the stage Danny said to him, “Hey! Bring her up here.” Then to the crowd he announced, “Look who came to see daddy work tonight!” Bryan held his little girl as she waved to the crowd.
“These guys right here are special, dear friends,” Danny began, “and the fact that they can sing just makes it better! From all the way in Morristown, Tennessee, Roger, Debra and Lauren – all the Talleys!” God Rides on Wings of Love kicked off the Talley’s set. “We are so glad you all have joined us,” Lauren said, greeting the crowd, “haven’t we had a great night so far?” An old song, Isn’t the Love of Jesus Something Wonderful and their popular song, Searchin’ came next. Lauren went on to thank the crowd and Indian Creek for allowing them to come back. Last year, Lauren came down and sang the evening herself because Roger’s father had passed away and he felt he needed to be home and also, it was at that time when Debra was at the Homecoming taping and suffered a concussion because her chair fell of the back of a riser. After Debra talked about her favorite childhood memory they sang Amazing Grace and When He Calls I’ll Fly Away. Then it was Roger’s turn to share a little. He spoke about having to go back to his parent’s house after his dad passed away and go through the things they saved for 60 years. But he noticed one primary theme; the things they saved were family photos, newspaper articles about their children. “Their family was their treasure,” said Roger. When this next song came to them while they were recording their new CD, he knew he had to sing it – What You Leave Behind. Towards the end of the song, Lauren leaned over and gave Roger a peck on the cheek. (How sweet!) Up Above, The Broken Ones and He’s Alive followed. On He’s Alive Lauren came off the stage and sang in the aisle because her mic was cutting in and out. She said, “Y’all are gonna’ hear me one way or another!”
Pastor Bill brought his Bible up on stage, “We’re going to take a few minutes to get into God’s Word. Today’s message is about getting down to the bottom line.” He turned everyone’s attention to a Scripture in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.” He read those verses from a Bible printed in 1850 – the year Indian Creek was established. “The same words apply 100+ years later,” said Pastor Bill. There were two requirements in these verses. 1) Fear God. This fear is a reverence, not a dread. Oswald Chambers said it like this, “When you fear God, you fear nothing else.” 2) Obedience. Keep the commands of God – of course we have the 10 Commandments, but there are other things we shouldn’t do. “But I also think we need to focus on the things we need to be doing,” said Pastor Bill, “We have a supreme obligation. Whether it be good or bad, where do you stand before God tonight?”
Intermission came and went, launching all the artists on stage and into the second half of the evening. Danny Jones had the band play a quick solo and then he called out the groups as they came on stage. First off, was Victory in Jesus lead by Lauren Talley…though Debra had to feed her some words on the second verse. (And if I can say, all the other singers didn’t look like they knew it either ‘cause they weren’t helping her! LOL) “Not a bad little choir right there,” said Danny, “Tim, you have a song you want to sing?” Tim shook his head, “Naw.” So, Danny proposed the idea of a bass sing off with Tim and Joe on Just a Little Talk with Jesus. When they came to the verse that featured the ultra-slow tenor part, Robert from Gold City took it up, and then they finished the song with a fast beat that had the audience clapping along. Danny (Jones) pointed to the section sitting on the right side of the stage and asked for “one song.” Nobody answered! So Danny came to our side on the left and asked, “One song.” Two were hollered out – How Great Thou Art and Looking for a City. How Great Thou Art won and when no one volunteered Danny suggested either Danny (Riley) or Chip sing it. Riley took the solo, though, once again, when the second verse rolled around he had to have to words fed to him by Corey. After the drawing, Lauren sang Because He Lives. Danny (Jones) had a wonderful introduction for that song about all the work that Indian Creek puts into this event and even though our lives are busy throughout the year, there’s nothing like living for Jesus. I’ll Fly Away closed the night out and the band played on as everyone gathered their things to head back to their cars.
Conclusion: I have never been to a campmeeting before…or a tent revival for that matter. But after being at Indian Creek over Memorial Day Weekend, I feel like I’ve experienced both. Each night had an excellent line-up, but looking beyond that, I noticed little things that made this Gospel Sing different from others. For this post I’ll mention the drivers who shuttled us from the parking lot to the tent on the golf carts. We all know fuel isn’t cheap these days, but they ran those carts back and forth until everyone was in the tent without complaint. That little “personal touch” let everyone know that Indian Creek cared and took the time to truly make sure those who came were taken care of from the moment they pulled in. I enjoyed the first night and had a great time. The whole weekend I made sure to Tweet and post on Facebook. If you click HERE, it will take you to my Twitter page and see all of my Tweets from the weekend right now. There are some photos too! I hope you have fun looking at them if you check it out!