Once each summer, children, teens and adults flock to Good Shepherd Baptist Church for a three-day event that ends with a massive concert featuring nearly 1,000 performers.
There’s a reason the church calls it a “Gospel Explosion.”
The annual event, from July 20-22 this year, begins with two days of workshops and culminates with a Sunday evening performance.
A children’s choir with more than 200 members performs, followed by a youth choir that includes 300 members ages 11 to 21. The adult choir usually has nearly 400, said Carolyn Williams, the youth leader and one of the event’s organizers along with the church’s Minister of Music Fitzgerald Ryans.
“It really has been his vision since day one,” she said.
The church, led by the Rev. Clarence Moore, has held the event for 13 years.
It’s free, open to the public and requires no advance registration.
The event, however, isn’t just for musicians. For a few years, Good Shepherd has held a ministers’ conference in conjunction with the event.
Pastors, including the Rev. William Blount, of Greater Young Zion Baptist Church in Augusta, will speak on topics such as Knowing your Call. The Rev. Maria Rivers, of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Augusta, will speak on the pastor-musician relationship.
The Rev. L.V. Turman, of Faith Christian Center in Washington, Ga., will talk about sermon building, and the Rev. Diane Evans, of St. Paul Baptist Church in Sylvania, Ga., will address ministers on the topic of Women in Ministry in the 21st Century.
The event, Williams said, draws on regional talent.
The children’s choir will be led by Stellar Award-winning producer Alphaeus Anderson. The youth choir will sing under the direction of Darryl Izzard, the director of the Benedict College Gospel Choir. The adults will be led by the Rev. Darrell Ravenell, of Charleston, S.C.
Additional workshops on praise and worship and hymn raising will be led by Rebecca Mims, of Thankful Baptist Church in Blythe, and Good Shepherd’s own George Hatcher.
“It’s really a sight to see,” Williams said. “It is wonderful. Chairs are everywhere. People are all over the place. It’s a massive undertaking.”
A handful of denominations are represented, and Williams said she frequently hears of musicians traveling from out of state to participate.
“It’s one Lord, one baptism,” she said. “We’re worshiping the Lord all together.”