Posted Online: July 07, 2013, 12:28 am

Praise band jam, no battle, planned in Geneseo

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

Photo:
Cathy Bear, left, Glenn Kluge, Shaun Easton, Chuck Goreth, and Steve Flatt, Geneseo's First United Methodist Church praise band members, will be among musicians participating in a "Praise Band Jam," to be held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at the Geneseo City Park band shell.
GENESEO -- A "battle of the bands" didn't sound too Christian-like for some church praise-music groups.

"That was the original plan, but it just wasn't giving off a good Christian vibe," said Glenn Kluge, a drummer withGeneseo's First United Methodist Church praise band.

The church has organized a "Praise Band Jam,'' for 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at the Geneseo City Park band shell. The first-time event will feature praise bands from Geneseo Evangelical Free Church and Geneseo Life Church, in addition to two bands from the hosting congregation. Cambridge United Methodist Church, has expressed interest, but hasn't yet confirmed its participation.

None of the bands will win any medals or prizes, and, heaven forbid, any of them get named "The Voice," or an "Idol." Only one God deserves worship, Mr. Kluge said.

They hope to raise money for two local charities. Proceeds from an ice cream social and pie auction, as well as any other contributions, will benefit a Backpack Blessings mission project and a Helping Hands Ministry, Mr. Kluge said.

Backpack Blessings is a partnership between First Methodist and the Geneseo school district that provides nutritious "kid-friendly" food to children living in "food-insecure" households to help get youth through the weekend when school breakfast and lunch are not available, according to a news release.

Helping Hands Ministry provides free, gently used appliances to people who can't afford new ones.

Jam organizers also seek local businesses or organizations willing to help cover park rental, sound-system and other related costs, Mr. Kluge said.For more information, email him at glennkluge@gmail.com.

Each band will perform for about 25 minutes, mostly contemporary praise music, but some "more-traditional Gospel songs," he said, adding that some will have a little country flavor, while others will have a rock flavor.

Mr. Kluge said he enjoys playing in a praise band to help bring God's message to people and draw people to Jesus through music.

"If this year's event is successful, we hope to make it an annual event and turn it into a regular faith-based community event to benefit other missions," Mr. Kluge said.

Enthusiasm shown by the other bands also has been exciting, he said.

"And Geneseo's a great place to do something like this. We already have a community worship event one Sunday a month, and it's such a great feeling to live in a town that holds such community worship activities."

It also will give his band a chance to reunite with worship director Shaun Easton, who recently left First Methodist for a new position in Bloomington, but committed to participating in the praise-band jam.

"The idea for this jam sounded so perfect, it couldn't have come from me," Mr. Kluge said. "The Holy Spirit must have had a lot to do with it," and it took no battles to convince people it's a wonderful idea.