2 East Texas churches partner for orchestra concerts in Lufkin, Tyler

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 11:47 AM CDT

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Two East Texas church groups have come together in a partnership that has been more than two years in the making because of the pandemic.

Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler and Harmony Hill Baptist Church in Lufkin were able to perform their ‘Circle of Praise’ concert for both cities. Beckie Compton is the Orchestra Director for Harmony Hill Baptist Church and said musicians love the chance to play.

“Anytime they get a chance to play, they’re there. They just want to do this and as you can see by looking at the group, you would see that it can be a very lifelong thing. It’s not just for a certain age group,” Compton said.

Sunday’s group brought about 70 musicians together from all walks of life to get to play, worship, and honor the Lord. Aaron Handorf plays trumpet for Green Acres and said the fellowship has been great.

“We’re bonded more than just by music. We’re bonded by God’s presence, by his spirit. And just to be able to get down and sit with somebody that may be from the same walk of life as you, that has some same experiences or just something completely different, we have just a great commonality,” Handorf said.

Billy Bob Dempsey is Minister of Instrumental Music at Green Acres and said they have many connections with the Lufkin church. What makes this evening unique is anyone can play in a church orchestra.

“We have lots more brass than would ever be in a standard symphony but that’s part of the deal and we learn how to play together,” Dempsey said. “We don’t have as many strings as we normally would like to have with a symphony, but we make it work and it comes out pretty nicely.”

Chelsea Epperson plays clarinet for Green Acres and said she knew this would be a fun experience.

“I just hope that they get to experience the presence of the Lord, so that’s what worship is and that’s what we do. We just do it with our instruments,” Epperson said.

Compton said partnerships like this can push the musicians out of their comfort zone because they’ll sit by new people, be listening to more people playing, and more. Being back after the time they lost together during COVID has rekindled spirits.

“We lost that time during COVID where there were no live concerts anywhere. For so many of us we miss that camaraderie, we miss that companionship, that ensemble work with each other to make something happen,” Compton said. “I think for me, even though it’s two years past the date we originally planned, I’m looking forward to it even more.”

Dempsey tells us he already has next year’s event on the calendar and is looking forward to it.