Continuing their new tradition of hosting benefit concerts, Elmira’s St. James Lutheran Church welcomes Jubilation Male Chorus this Sunday for an afternoon of music and fellowship.
The concert will support the Humanitarian Coalition, which is working to fight the drought in South Sudan, Somalia, Northeast Nigeria and Yemen, which the United Nations said earlier this year could be the largest humanitarian crisis since the UN was formed in 1945. More than 20 million people are at risk of starvation.
Ken Huehn from the Jubilation Male Chorus says they’ve been doing benefit work throughout southwestern Ontario since the chorus was founded in 1994.
“We try to help out wherever we can. We’re a registered charity so whenever we do something we don’t take anything off the top. Everything goes to the charity that we support,” Huehn said.
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They will be directed by Robert Shantz and accompanied by Karen Enns. Additional music will be presented by Enns and her son, Jeff Enns on piano and violin. Jeff is the organist and choir director at St. James.
The chorus’ offering will include spiritual music from the Southern gospel genre as well as some classical repertoire.
“The last three concerts that we have done on our own we’ve raised money for the House of Friendship and the one previous to that we raised some funds for the MennoHomes project which is currently underway in Elmira. And then before that we supported Mennonite Central Committee for the ongoing refugee problem,” Huehn says of their previous charitable efforts.
He says any time they put on a concert they sit down with the chorus – which includes four members from Woolwich – and see if anyone has a cause they would like to support, and go from there.
For this concert, they’ve added an extra special local touch.
“There’s one piece of music that we’re going to do that has some local roots to it and it’s a piece by Stephanie Martin, who is Abner Martin’s daughter, who founded the Menno Singers and on from there. We’ve chosen to do that piece because we think there will probably be some people who know she is and know her background,” Huehn said.
The Lutheran Church became a member of the Humanitarian Coalition earlier this year through the Canadian Lutheran World Relief Service.
The Humanitarian Coalition’s executive director, Richard Morgan, says it’s been wonderful to see the collaboration of new partners like the Lutherans.
Morgan explains the crisis that’s occurring and likely to get worse.
“If you were to tell Canadians that more than half of Canada was at risk of a food insecurity, it would just be mind boggling. But that’s essentially the situation that’s happening right now. If you were to draw a bit of a belt from Northeast Nigeria across to South Sudan, parts of Ethiopia, parts of Kenya, Somalia, and then over to Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, there’s a terrible combination of drought that is one big part of the problem and there’s also some dislocation caused by conflict,” Morgan said.
In each of those countries food insecurity is growing dramatically. The crops that should have been going into the ground now for the planting season aren’t happening.
“That virtually guarantees we’re marching toward a terrible situation within a couple of months,” Morgan said.
He explains in some rural areas, farmers were being sent cardboard by the cities to have something to feed their livestock.
“One of the ways we can help the most effectively is by just contributing funds to an agency that’s already working on the ground. All of our partners are in the region working in different parts trying to fight the food crisis and the dislocation that’s happening.”
The benefit concert is Apr. 23 at 3 p.m. at St. James Lutheran Church in Elmira. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors. Children and students are free. Receipts for tax purposes will be issued for charitable donations of $10 or more beyond the ticket payment. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.ca, the Window Box in Elmira, and St. James’ office in the morning, as well as at the door.