Ready to give thanks, once again in Delmar

A program of praise and Thanksgiving, the largest area ecumenical service involving members of 15 different churches, will be held Sunday, Nov. 18, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar.

A total of 135 voices representing churches from Bethlehem and New Scotland will perform in front of an audience of 800 people in what has become an annual holiday event for many.

It has become quite a tradition, said Peg Dorgan, St. Thomas the Apostle Church choir director, who also directs the annual service with organist Jennie Moak.

The ecumenical service dates back to the mid-'70s in Delmar and became an annual tradition in 1990. Preparations for the service begin in September with music selection. That is followed by rehearsals in November leading up to the evening program on the 18th. Prior to the event, a dinner is prepared for all 135 choir members and musicians, some new ones, other more experienced members who rekindle their friendship prior to the concert.

"Over the years, we have really developed a lot of friendships with people from the other churches," said Dorgan.

People from across the Capital District attend the service, which lasts a little more than an hour with the first arrivals filing in about an hour before the event.

"It has become quite a tradition, and we hold it at St. Thomas because it is the only church big enough to hold it," Dorgan said.

The Bethlehem Lutheran Church bell choir will also perform along with a

trumpeter and timpani player.

"I give a lot of credit to the growth of this service in the quality of the music," said Bethlehem Lutheran Church pastor the Rev. Mark Mueller, who will be participating as a member of the clergy and with the bell choir.

"By having the choirs come together in this church to produce a really nice sound is a wonderful way to celebrate the gift and spirit of unity," Mueller added.

A free will offering will also be held with proceeds going to the Interfaith Council for the Homeless in Albany.

"I just think it's such a wonderful way to share our common faith and common belief through music," said Dorgan.

Dorgan said, through the year, people on the street or in the market come up to her to say what a wonderful time they had at last year's service.

"I guess it's something you have to experience," she said.

The ecumenical service begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. For information, call 768-2852.""

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