By Pastor Lewis Markwood
I was asked to create a “mixed” (women and men) choral group in The Village in Indianola, in September 2013. The Village is a community of about 225 older adults, ages 55-103. We live on a 50 acre campus in town homes, independent living apartments and assisted-living groups for rehabilitation, memory care and hospice. Once a resident here, there will never be a need to move for health care to another facility. We have the best restaurant in town and well-planned wellness activities and entertainment.
We have more than 30 participants in The Village Voices. We sing at the first Sunday afternoon Vesper worship service each month. We have produced a full-length Advent worship service (Hanging of the Green) at the beginning of December two years, plus singing four or five Christmas sing-a-longs with the families of residents in the three assisted-living and memory care units in The Village. Family members bring pot-luck and gift exchange for their loved ones.
We have also done Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, patriotic, Thanksgiving and variety show performances. Last year we appeared in 15 performances besides the Sunday events.
Interestingly enough, the quality of the music has improved over the months we have been singing.
My motivation is to glorify God through our physical presence and musical performance. I have been accused of using rehearsal to preach when I introduce a new song. I talk about the inspiration behind the writing of the words and/or music for songs. The biography of composers may be equally inspiring as the music itself.
Personally, I have not sung as well in my life as now. The exercise program in The Village has given me physical fitness and the challenge to lead the choir, to sing solos or with ensembles has been well received and encouraged by our friends here.
While in the Air Force, I met my wife when asked to sing in a Christmas cantata at her church. She taught piano for fifty years. I graduated from Hardin-Simmons University with a degree in music education. I sang four years with the H-SU Acapella Choir, two years with the University Quartet and served local congregations as music evangelist and music and choir director for youth and adult choirs. On occasions, I was the choir director while servicing as pastor. We started The Redeemed gospel quartet in Calgary, Canada, that sang together ten years until we returned to Iowa.
Music has been a spiritual calling and a wonderful ministry for my wife and me.