Maryville College’s gospel choir Voices of Praise (VOP) took students to Memphis, Tenn. in the 2013 fall tour “Take Me to the King.” Students had the opportunity to engage in worship experiences and build community.
“We worship because we want to show honor to our God for his love, grace and mercy on us,” said VOP’s choir chaplain and senior Patrick Nkurunziza.
“I would say that worship is a chance for me to give back to God through praising him. I think about how Good he has been to me, his grace, his mercy, his might and his truth and I am so grateful. Worship is just another chance for me to be close to the Lord,” said freshman Halle Hill.
The name of this year’s fall 2013 tour was developed by students to reflect their desire to develop a closer relationship with God through worship.
“We’re going through college, questioning our morals, beliefs, career options and life after graduation. Through all this madness, it’s really easy for us to lose sight of God and forget to listen for his voice,” said VOP president MarQuis Chappell. “The point of naming our fall tour ‘Take Me to the King’ was to remind everyone that Jesus is only a prayer away. He wants you to come to him, believe in him and leave your burdens at his feet.”
With this vision, Voices of Praise left from the Fayerweather parking lot bleary-eyed and languid at 2 a.m. Friday morning to arrive in Memphis. Voices of Praise made their first stop at the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering where they were welcomed by students.
Arriving at Whitehaven High School at their next stop, VOP engaged in a similar service.
Following the school performances, VOP presented a full concert to the church body of Pastor Quinton R. Smith’s Historical First Baptist Church of Memphis, Tenn. Vice president Olivia Daniel led the audience in the song, “Take Me to the King” by Tamela Mann, the theme of the tour.
The full concert included works like Tye Tribbett’s “Same God,” “Every Praise” and “I Love You Jesus.”
On Sunday, Nov. 10, VOP planned to sing for the congregation of Historical First Baptist once more before leaving for school. However, news of the sudden death of director Larry Ervin’s close family member was announced. With word of the news, VOP moved to the sanctuary to have a spontaneous group praise session. This was followed by prayer before the Sunday morning service began to support the grieving family. The service ended with a communal lunch between the choir and church congregation.
“The Lord truly blessed our efforts in his name,” Ervin said. “Everything from last minute musicians to a choir who refused to give up or give in.”
While the group faced hardships such as the death of Ervin’s family member, they came through for a successful tour. According to Chappell, the group is currently working on fund-raising and planning for the spring tour in Orlando, Fla.