Our Visit to Mason City, Iowa

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On the weekend of February 10th, 2012, the men of the Chorus traveled to Mason City, Iowa for a spring retreat to work on music for our upcoming spring concert, Re: Generations. The First Presbyterian Church of Mason City was gracious enough to let us use their Fellowship Hall for rehearsals that weekend.

Pastor Paul Collier also invited us to sing during that Sunday’s service on February 12.

The experience was memorable and speaks to the impact that the men of the Chorus bring to the communities they visit. It also reaffirms for each member of the Chorus why they joined this organization.

Pastor Collier wrote about that morning in the church’s newsletter, “The Pulse.” We reprint the text of his column with his permission:

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“One of the most common themes in my preaching has been how the Holy Spirit can move in ways we did not predict or expect. That was certainly true on Sunday, February 12, when we hosted the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus. Oh, I knew they were a first-class choir, and I had no doubt that they would provide good music to enhance our worship. And I knew that it was important for us to provide a welcome. But what happened in that worship service went beyond what any of us anticipated. And I’m not sure we have really comprehended it yet.

“Many of the men in TCGMC have been seriously wounded and deeply scarred by the rejection they have felt, even among the people they love, including church people, pastors and other religious leaders. Many of them were skeptical about attending worship on Sunday. Some were expecting to have to endure an hour of “churchiness” as an obligation for the use of our Fellowship Hall on Friday and Saturday. But on Sunday, they found not only a sincere and warm welcome; they found that their contribution was an integral and valued part of our worship. For many, it was not only the first time they felt welcome in a ¬†church; it was also the first time their presence was valued, their music was seen as an act of worship — that their spiritual life was affirmed.

“Since February 12, I have been receiving a number of messages and cards, and they go beyond just thanking us for our hospitality over the weekend or the welcome on Sunday. Most of these responses have a similar message. “I am now looking at the church in a new way.” “It has made me re-think my decision to stay away from church.” And I have even had requests to recommend churches in the Twin Cities. To me, the most powerful message I heard was on Sunday morning when one person said to me, “The healing begins today.”

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The sermon, along with performances by the Chorus, are available as a podcast on iTunes. Visit the First Presbyterian Church of Mason City’s website and click on their iTunes link in the lower left hand column. There are a total of four podcast recordings available: one for Pastor Collier’s sermon, and one for each of the TCGMC’s performances of It Gets Better, Everything’s Possible and Walk Hand in Hand.