Gordon’s Hidden Gem
Gordon College is known as a small Christian liberal arts school located north of Boston. A student body, mostly white, that comes from different backgrounds in the Christian faith. Students are required to attend to chapel service three times a week. These services contain some type of worship in the beginning and then a guest speaker. The worship is usually from Christian bands and artists such as Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Phil Wickham, and Chris Tomlin. However, every now and then there is a type of worship where the drums come out, the piano changes tone, four people becomes fifty and the music overall becomes upbeat. The Gospel Choir is in it’s third consecutive year in existence and has taken Gordon College by storm. Led by Craig Ramsey Jr., 2013 graduate of Gordon and director of the gospel choir, the choir has been able to make itself known on the campus. On a campus which is predominately white, this type of music is rarely heard at Gordon. Formally known as “God’s Chosen Gospel Choir”, those who have been members or just spectators have been impacted someway by this type of worship.
In this new age of worship, churches have seen less of choirs and more of worship teams. Instead of 50 people on stage there are 4 who are leading people in worship. Gospel Choirs are slowly becoming a dying trend in Christian culture. Large groups have been narrowed down to small teams of worshippers. “People don’t know how to lead choirs anymore. It is tough for them to deal and manage multiple personalities and get them to understand one message. That their purpose is to give God all the glory. It is not about talent and ability”. said Ramsey. He also expressed how when you have people who make it about them, then the choir is destined to fail. It is similar to being on a sports team. Instead of doing it for each other, each individual is doing it for God. “I am looking for worshippers first and singers second,” says Ramsey. “I don’t care about what you sound like, I care about what your heart looks like.”
Christina Baboian has been a member of the choir since the beginning and has expressed it to be the most riveting part of her Gordon experience. “The first time we got up on the chapel stage to praise as a choir gave me a feeling that I will never forget and I knew I could never leave after that. And the amazing part about it wasn’t that we were feeling good about how great we sound, it was a true feeling of worship and open expression to God that changed the way we thought and I know made my faith even stronger. And just seeing the change in number of members from 18 to what it is now is truly amazing.” Another member, Jermane Hughes, also expressed the joy that the choir has brought her during her time at Gordon. “Little did I know at the time, this group would impact me more than anything else on this campus. I joined because the worship and the music was different, but it felt just like home. Not only that, but they sounded good too”.
Gospel music has been a very popular type of worship within the African American community. People clap their hands and stomp their feet as part of their worship. “God’s Chosen” does not have just African Americans in the choir. It has been able to reflect God’s kingdom by diversifying itself by bringing people from all backgrounds together. People who have never listened or performed gospel music have been taken away from this new style and culture. “Hymns and other contemporary songs have always been a favorite of mine and Gordon has always been a place where that type of worship is performed. However, the first time I heard the gospel choir in chapel it was a bit of a culture shock for me. The music was loud and people around me were clapping and dancing in their seats. I attended the concert last weekend and the feeling I walked away with was indescribable. I felt the presence of God in chapel and it was a beautiful sight to see young people from different backgrounds worship the Lord”, said Ryan Williamson.
This small Christian liberal arts school has something in the making. An institution that is attempting to bring about more culture has something that has become the face of that. This diverse group of students has come together to do something simple and make a positive impact on a campus seeking to be reconciled. So where does this choir go from here? “I have absolutely no doubt that this choir is going to continue to get stronger through the years to come and I know God never stops working, and He is going to continue to be present with this choir and change the lives of those that are in it as well as those that experience the love of Christ through what this choir continues to do on and off this campus”, says Baboian. There might be less choirs in churches, but at Gordon, God’s Chosen is standing strong to worship as one for years to come.