Bethesda, Zion churches to put on 16th gospel show

March 11, 1994|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

Nashville country gospel returns to Carroll County for the 16th year as the Bethesda and Zion United Methodist churches bring three nationally known gospel groups to the stage for two performances Sunday.

This year's show features the popular Dixie Melody Boys and the Lewis Family in repeat appearances, joined by a group new to the area, Perfect Heart.

The Dixie Melody Boys have been singing Southern gospel music for more than 30 years. The Lewis Family, led by "Pop" Lewis, offers a bluegrass style of gospel. Perfect Heart consists of six men who took their ministry on the road in 1990.

The sister churches, Bethesda on Klees Mill Road near Eldersburg and Zion on Old Washington Road in Shipley, started the concert 16 years ago as a fund-raiser. Since then, it has grown into their major money-maker.

"Without this concert the two churches would not exist," said Scott Carr, Country Gospel Committee chairman.

Uncertain if such a concert would be successful 16 years ago, Mr. Carr and the late Austin Zepp put up the money to bring the first groups to Westminster. That first concert netted enough for the two men to get their money back and, ever since, the concert has been a community staple heralding a new season.

"I pick out three groups I think people would like and take it to the committee," Mr. Carr said. "Sometimes they approve my choices, and sometimes they make suggestions, and we check that out."

For several years, Mr. Carr got help with finding appropriate groups from Ed O'Neal, bass singer for the Dixie Melody Boys, who sang here for the first six years of the event.

"We always have three groups, and he'd tell us which groups would make a nice mix for the concert," Mr. Carr said. "Ed O'Neal is a superb, No. 1 gentleman."

The churches also print a program book of advertising from area businesses. Everyone who purchases an ad receives two free tickets to the evening concert, Mr. Carr said.

"It's a wonderful show, but a lot of people think it's an old-fashioned hymn sing," said Charlotte Eaton of the Bethesda church, who is ticket chairman. "It's nothing like that at all -- we clap our hands, stomp our feet, laugh and have a good time.

"It's like any other show you'd go to except it's all gospel and a group of people that love the Lord," she said.

Tom Conroy is master of ceremonies for the concerts, each lasting about 3 1/2 hours. The concerts will sometimes end with all three groups coming out on stage and singing together, Ms. Eaton said.

Concerts are at 2 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Westminster High School, 1225 Washington Road. Advance tickets are $8 for general admission and $4 for balcony seats; $1 more at the door.

Advance tickets can be purchased at Bullock's Airport Inn and Bullock's Country Meats in Westminster, Menchey's in Hanover, Pa., and McDougall's Pharmacy in Eldersburg.

Information: 795-1728 or 833-6295.

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