Church Lady: Perfect Marco day for ‘Praise in the Park’

Veteran’s Park is literally a hop, skip and a jump from New Life Community Church, so it is only natural for the church to hold a praise fest at the park.

April 2 was a celebratory evening of joyful praise and worship that included a wide variety of musical styles, ballads, rock and roll and traditional, which appealed and was relevant to all ages and backgrounds. The words, however, all had the same focus: God.

Attendees brought their lawn chairs and beach blankets. The sky was that brilliant Marco blue. At first the air was still and hung heavy but as they began to sing the words “Every whisper of the wind” from the song “Obvious” a refreshing breeze began from the west.

Children were free to run off and do summersaults; little kids clambered around their mothers as the adults soaked in streams of God’s love on the warm spring evening. The adults also exercised freedom of movement: some stood and raised their hands in praise; others sat and closed their eyes in quite meditation; while others clapped and sang along to familiar tunes.

The evening was the brainchild of Greg Barrett, the church’s new worship pastor, who came onboard in January. Two of his goals were to grow the Praise Band and to host Praise in the Park. The Praise Band has added new percussionists and additional electric guitars. They showcased their talent along with the other band members and the church choir. Barrett had hosted similar concerts in Naples and participated in one in Colorado. He hopes the April 2 happening will be the first of many and looks forward to the participation of other churches.

“This is not the church of yesterday,” said Barrett who plans more upbeat, exciting events, including a celebratory Easter weekend, Saturday evening and Sunday morning at the church.

“We are thankful that God has put us all together,” said choir member Bobbie Lansdown. “Its fun and we are just tickled.” It was difficult to tell who enjoyed the evening more, the musicians or the audience. Fifteen-year old Josh Kohler was given the opportunity to showcase his skill on the electric guitar during the evening’s final piece, the rocking “Let Your Glory Shine.”

“We use the instruments that are in the Bible, strings, cymbals and drums,” said choir member Carol Fenimore. “That’s what David did.”

“I love music,” said choir member Fred Twilla. “It’s in my soul.” Twilla has a background in traditional and gospel music and embraces Barrett’s approach to music. “The music each Sunday is like opening a Christmas box.”

The combined band and choir is an inter-generational group that ranges from age thirteen to retirees. Barrett, whose style is similar to Billie Joel led from the keyboard and was assisted by his wife Tica who is a vibrant mezzo-soprano. Barrett arranges music to fit the players. That way everyone can participate, no matter what the skill level. The group all sported their new worship arts t-shirts.

“Worship arts incorporates drama, dance as well as music,” said Lansdown. “Its an opportunity for everyone to bring their skills and talents to the Lord.”

“I appreciate Greg’s vision of bringing worship outside of the four walls,” said choir member Billie Granneman.

“This is just great,” said attendee Sarah Schneider who attended with her two young children. “I wish they would do this more often. There is nothing like being outside praising the Lord, especially on Marco.”

Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various nonprofits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist.

San Marco Catholic Church

The Knights of Columbus hosts their Annual Fish Fry, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., every Friday in the Parish Hall. Both baked and fried fish will be served and take out is available, $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.

New Life Community Church of God

The last ladies Tea of the season — Teapots and Toppers, will be 2 p.m. on April 16. The afternoon will feature a musical one-man show by Larraine Olnowicz entitled “Shear Heaven.” Free, donations accepted, reservations required, call Cathy at 389-0815.

Marco Lutheran Church

A Suicide Prevention program will be presented by Virginia Cervasio, executive director of “C.A.R.E.S.”, Community Awareness in Recognizing and Educating on Suicide, 1 to 2:30 p.m., April 19. No charge.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

The church will host a Coffeehouse evening fundraiser for Camp Able 6 to 8 p.m. tonight. Camp Able is a summer camp for the disabled. All are welcome.

The Bach Ensemble, soloists and orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Ron Doiron, will present a Baroque performance of Handel’s complete “Messiah” at 3 p.m. There will be a conductor’s prelude at 2:30 p.m. and the presentation will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. Tickets are $25 at the door or at the Bach Ensemble’s website:; or $20 in advance through the church office

Wesley United Methodist Church

The Naples Orchestra and Chorus under Maestro Robert Herrema will present Theordore Dubois’ oratorio “The Seven Last Words of Christ” 7 p.m., April 17. Free, a love offering will be collected.

The church will host a free Easter Vacation Bible School (VBS) on April 22 and 23. Children age four through the fifth grade and their parents are invited to come and learn the true meaning of Easter. There will be a dinner for parents and children in the fellowship hall at 6 p.m. followed by the opening program at 7:30 p.m., April 22. Parents must attend with their children. VBS for the children will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 23. Parents may drop off their children at the fellowship hall. A snack and lunch will be provided. The day will conclude with an Easter Egg Hunt on the church lawn at 2 p.m. Call the church to pre-register. All are invited to attend the Easter services at 9 or 10:30 a.m. and watch the children sing a song from VBS.

Jewish Congregation of Marco Island

The annual Passover Seder will be presented by the JCMI Sisterhood, 6 p.m., April 18. Attendees, led by Rabbi Edward Maline and Cantorial Soloist Hari Jacobsen, will read the Haggadah. A holiday meal of traditional foods will be served. Call the synagogue office by April 14 to reserve your place. Tickets are as follows: Member adult $45, nonmember adult $55, member children (12 to 4) $15, nonmember children (12 to 4) $20 and children under 4 no charge.

St. Finbarr Parish

Knights of Columbus baked Fish Dinner for Charity, 6 p.m. on April 15, $15 per person, in the parish center. Tickets are available at the parish office.

The parish continues their Mission of Love appeal for the St. Pius X School, Ducis, Les Cayes, Haiti. The cost for food for one child for a week is $4 at the school. Checks made out to the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi may be sent care of St. Finbarr Parish, 13520 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, FL 34114.

23rd Annual Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach

The service will be held 7 a.m., April 24 at the Marriott Marco Beach Resort, 400 South Collier Boulevard. Beach access will be north of the Marriott Spa and the public access north of the Madeira Condominium. All are invited to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with music, scripture, prayer, praise and a brief message. Attendees are urged to bring their own blanket or chair.

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