The Church is made up of Christians from a myriad of different professions, and yet ‘ordinary’ tales of God at work rarely get told. In this series, we bring you stories of faith on the frontline
My name is Jess Morgan and I lead a community choir in Pontypridd in the South Wales valleys. We meet every week in a small pub on the high street; a neutral space where everyone can feel they belong.
The choir grew out of a baby group I set up. I’d had three children in quick succession and started to feel like I was losing a little bit of my identity. It turned out that quite a lot of the very tired grown-ups fancied the idea of singing. So, I picked a Monday in April, thinking: This will either be a brilliant way to start the week, or no one will come because everyone is shattered. That first night we were overcapacity. It was terrifying!
We were really aware of the barriers to joining a choir. People can have preconceived ideas about the standard required, or the type of music. We use lyric sheets instead of sheet music, which makes it easier for people. Everything is taught and learned by ear.
We didn’t advertise the fact that we are Christians. That was liberating, because it didn’t put any pressure on us to do a ‘God slot’. But by the end of the night, almost everyone had realised that we are Christians by the way we conducted ourselves.
The choir gives those who don’t have other opportunities a place to be. It’s like a big family. The number of people with anxiety disorders or who are long-term unemployed is extraordinary. People come, grab a drink and chat. We’re a gathered community with a shared interest, and we’re genuinely invested in each other’s lives and wellbeing.
In many ways, it feels like church. The things we tend to do in church life, like providing meals or looking after people when someone has a baby or a bereavement, have become part of our choir. And the impact has been incredible. For example, I used to go for coffee with one member of the choir. I never felt like she was inviting me to speak about God in overt terms – I was just being myself. Then one day, out of the blue, she announced that she had become a Christian. I was blown away! I said: “But how? Where have you heard the gospel?” She said: “I’ve watched you and the other women who run the choir. I’ve watched how you love one another.” That was three years ago, and her life has changed dramatically in that time.
Please pray that people would see more of Jesus in and through who we are and what we do as a choir.
Jess was speaking to Paul Woolley.