Congregations see Fourth as time to reflect

Worship this Sunday at Westside Baptist Church in Martinez will begin with a classic tune, a song found in nearly every edition of The Baptist Hymnal and other song books for more than half a century.


It is The Star-Spangled Banner, and it is a Fourth of July weekend tradition at the church, said Raven Neivel, the music ministry coordinator. So is a color guard ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance.

It's a tradition for others, too. Churches have long drawn inspiration from Independence Day celebrations.

"The music, the marches -- it's uplifting," said Jana Hill, the chairwoman of an annual God and Country concert at Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church.

Last weekend, the church's sanctuary choir and orchestra donned red, white and blue for a tribute to wounded war veterans. The service intertwined prayers for the troops with patriotic hymns.

Some of the same songs will be featured tonight at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The concert, A Star-Spangled Fourth, includes patriotic songs performed by a chorus and orchestra of 75.

Church services this weekend will focus instead on the fifth Sunday of Pentecost.

"We'll blow it out the night before, but in the past we've done patriotic services," said Keith Shafer, the director of music and organist.

The Episcopal Church's calendar sets aside time to remember two national holidays: Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day.

"With both, lessons are chosen to help people focus on the things that are important in national life," Mr. Shafer said. "It's not meant to be rah-rah America, but a time to be reflective."

Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or



WHAT: An Independence Day concert, to be followed by the Riverblast fireworks and barbecue

WHEN: 8 p.m. today

WHERE: St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 605 Reynolds St.

COST: $15 for show, $15 for barbecue

CALL: (706) 722-3463


WHAT: Free hamburgers and hot dogs at a picnic that includes games

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today

WHERE: Bible Cathedral, 1116 Furys Ferry Road, Evans

CALL: (706) 863-7090


WHAT: Food and fireworks

WHEN: 5 p.m. today

WHERE: Lighthouse Baptist Church, 2150 Columbia Highway N., Aiken

CALL: (803) 644-1260


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