Father Poppe and four adult chaperones joined nine youths from the Confirmation Class to hear the Howard University Gospel Choir, who were perfoming at Christ Episcopal Church in East Orange, New Jersey on Sunday, October 12, 2014.
Prior to the concert beginning, the confirmation class met with four choir members who shared how their faith was affirmed and challenged while in an academic setting. Julia D'Eletto noted how well-spoken they were and was struck by the advice that "questions about your faith happens but just be patient because the answers may come much later, perhaps even 30 to 40 years later, and to be always thankful when they do." Lynne Lewis remarked that the testimonies spoken by the choir members had so much conviction and strength in belief that was truly inspirational.
Following the benediction provided by the rector of Christ Church and opening remarks from the Mayor of Newark and the Alumni President, the Choir performed a robust spiritual performance with several outstanding solos and opportunities for audience participation.
During intermission, Father Poppe met briefly with the Confirmation Class in the corner of the church so that they could share their reactions and experiences of this very different expression of singing and praying. The Choir then returned to sing both traditional and contemporary music as well as a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" to the choir director.
The free abandonment of joy, praise and worship in their singing was so effectious that it truly moved our inner spirit and filled our heart with love and thanksgivings. We truly knew what it meant to be blessed. Kenny Heugel summarized it best by saying that "the music was so beautiful" as we left the church filled with the true awe inspiring grace of the Holy Spirit.