African Children’s Choir coming to First Baptist Church Vicksburg

Published 4:00 am Sunday, February 12, 2023

Area residents will be able to get a taste of Ugandan Culture on Feb. 19 when the African Children’s Choir performs at the First Baptist Church worship center.

The program begins at 7 p.m. and is free to the public although a free-will offering will be collected to help support the children’s ministry.

“This is a group of 19 children from Uganda, and they come stateside and they tour all over the country for a couple of years and then they return to Uganda,” said Doug Spires, associate pastor of music, worship and communications at First Baptist. “While they’re here, they have school work and training as well as their concert.”

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He said First Baptist has been trying to get the group to come to Vicksburg since 2020.

“This is actually the third concert date,” he said, adding the choir was initially scheduled for 2020, but the show was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns over COVID also forced the cancellation of a 2021 concert.

“We’re excited the day is finally here. The children are typically 7 to 9 years old but this is actually the same group that missed all of the concert season because of COVID, so they’re a little bit older. They’re 10- to 12-year-olds,” Spires said.

Spires said the title of the tour is the “Just as I am Hymns Tour.”

According to its website, the African Children’s Choir was founded almost 39 years ago by Canadian Ray Barnett who was on a humanitarian trip to war-torn Uganda when he gave a small boy a ride from his decimated home to the safety of another village. While they were traveling, the boy began singing. His song served as the inspiration for the choir.

Barnett founded the African Children’s Choir in 1984 and served as the director and visionary for Music for Life, the non-profit organization working to develop the Choir program while raising funds to help thousands of destitute children receive an education and hope through other relief and development programs.

“I’ve seen this group in concert twice before, at churches where I was serving — once in Arkansas and once in Northeast Mississippi and it’s a delight. It really is worth the people’s time to come to see,” Spires said

He said the program will include singing with some dancing, “But you will definitely get a taste of their culture.”

Because of the ages of the children, he said, the program has been reworked to have some different things than they normally would, because the children are a little bit older.

Spires said the children will be staying in Vicksburg “for a couple of days” and will be staying in some host homes offered by church members.

“Several of our folks will get to have Ugandan culture in their homes,” he said. “It’s going to b great; we’re really excited for our community to come and enjoy them. We’re hoping to pack the worship center.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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