With a sprawling campus full of ministry, community outreach, and good will – the mass choir of the Christian Life Center gathered together in preparation for Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound Finale in Los Angeles, CA.
As the Regional Winners, 85 members of the choir and band would represent the Greater Oakland Bay Area in the finale competition alongside 8 choirs from across the nation.
The diversity of the choir is not unique or uncommon to Californians. However, their authentic commitment to worship and ministry is like the fresh air that met us in the early morning hours in Stockton.
God in his own perfect timing, helped to nudge Rev. Laird Sillimon, Director of the CLC Music Ministry to complete their application from a previous year. Between a sucessful Music Conference (To The Chief Musician), and teaching at the Christian Life College — all while balancing family and music production; Sillimon, redefines the term minister of music.
“At the end if the day, its not about winning – its about worship,” says Sillimon. Originally from New Orleans, Sillimon and his family have been with CLC for over 10 years. There is no doubt this is ministry for him, and far more than just a week to week routine. “We are just honored to worship at a higher level than we have ever been before.”
Members of the CLC Mass Choir count their Sunday morning devotion, before ministering to the congregation as the linchpin of their freedom to worship. “I was saved in 94, and joined the choir immediately,” says Frances Saavedra. With a fire and excitement about sharing the gospel of Jesus, it was almost an afterthought that they were participating in a choir competition. After following the choir from Oakland to Los Angeles, whispers of prize money never come up, however, one thing is evident – members of the CLC choir are excited to minister on the same stage with countless others on fire for Christ.
“This is such a humbling experience that God would choose us for this time,” says Angela Sillmon, who also sings in the choir under the direction of her husband. “As you grow in God you go from level to level. Signs and wonders can happen really happen there,” she continued. “It’s nothing but the anoiting,” says PJ Green, lead vocalist, and crowd favorite dubbed the “Jim Carrey of Gospel”.
The same is true for Jasmine Johnson, 27, fellow lead vocalist on their selection “The Presence of the Lord is Here”. “I saw it as a ministry opportunity.” Jasmine came to the Christian Life Center as a student at the Christian Life Bible College during her freshman year.
During the Oakland Regional Competition, the choir and entire congregation had been in fasting and prayer for their Bishop, Rev. Kenneth F. Haney. Diagnosed with a brain tumor, and only weeks to live – the entire congregation united in regular corporate prayer, sometimes rearranging the rehearsal time of the choir. “This is a lifestyle for us,” says Jasmine, who also heads up the CLC Young Adult Ministry with her husband.
As the rehearsal came to an end, Sillimon, began to pray for the choir, and they too began to pray collectively for one another. The sound of over 80 voices with a unique petition to God for the welfare of each other, their congregation, and those they would join in ministry at the Staple center left us all with the same refreshing wind that greeted us in the morning.
Although, the choir did not take home the honor of being the National How Sweet the Sound Grand Finale Winner (Salvation and Deliverance Church Choir), they did place as the National Runner Up, which is a first for any choir from the Oakland Region.
We believe the true reward given to the Christian Life Center is the life of their Bishop, as he beats the odds, and remains in there hearts and prayers until God gives him his heavenly reward.
Connect with CLC Online: http://www.clministry.com/
For updates on Bishop Haney: http://www.clministry.com/church/news/bishophaney/
Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound: http://www.howsweetthesound.com