The Bethel AME Choir rocked the house at the first annual Nevada City Gospel Festival.
By Susan Kim*
June 28, 2013—The debut of a spring Gospel Music Festival in Nevada City, CA, promises to become an annual tradition of inspiring music, traditional southern-style food, and generosity from fans who care about their fellow human beings.
This year's festival, held in May at the Nevada City United Methodist Church, raised funds that will help the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) bring fresh water for people in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
At a shelter for pregnant women in Mutare, there is no running water or working bathrooms. Constantly battling against rodents, mothers-to-be cook their meals in an outdoor kitchen and gather water from two wells on the grounds of the Old Mutare Hospital.
When mothers are ready to deliver their babies, skilled nursing staff rely on a limited supply of water and an UMCOR birthing kit. Their challenges are only one facet of Zimbabwe's lack of safe drinking water and inadequate sanitation, leaving the country facing diseases such as cholera.
Old Mutare Hospital is a 70-bed building located on the Old Mutare Mission Station, northwest of the town of Mutare. The hospital serves a local population of some 12,000 people that includes mission station staff and employees, local farmers, Africa University students and staff, and some of the urban population of Mutare.
With the first festival raising thousands of dollars to support fresh water in the Old Mutare area, festival organizers said they hoped future festivals will attract an equally inspiring array of support.
“It is my prayer for the Gospel Music Festival to help many,” said Andy Gonzales, festival director. Gonzales, a long-time event producer, dreamed for many years of establishing a gospel music festival in Northern California. “This finally became a reality as we launched this first annual festival.”
Joshua Jones, a colleague of Gonzales's and the festival's artistic director, said he was striving throughout the planning process to communicate the needs in Zimbabwe with a fresh perspective that would inspire people to give.
“We are humbled by the amount of interest we have received in the course of building this event,” he said. A conductor, composer, and pianist, Jones serves as a pianist for the Nevada City UMC.
Performers at the festival included Inheritance, Karen Westbrooks and Zamar, The Gospel Motivators, The Bethel AME Choir, Scott Hickman, and Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin. Families stayed at the church from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. enjoying music, food and fellowship.
Your gift to Water and Sanitation, UMCOR Advance #3020600, will support projects like the one at Old Mutare that seek to increase communities’ access to clean, safe water.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.