A Seymour church has invited members from surrounding churches to put together a performance to honor veterans and inspire the public.

For those involved in “With Freedom’s Holy Light,” unity is a major theme of the program.

That’s both unity of the church, as the program pulls together church members from the area, and unity of the country, as the program focuses on a patriotic message.

This past weekend, participants gathered at Central Christian Church to practice for the performances, which are at 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the church, 1434 W. Second St.

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“It’s amazing to me that a program published in 1996 can be so relevant to us today,” said Neil Gardner, director for the program and worship pastor at Central Christian Church. “It deals with our current world, and since it’s music, it speaks to people in a different way than simply talking.”

The program features 11 songs with narration breaking the songs up throughout. It includes spiritual and patriotic numbers meant to connect America with the religion that helped form it.

There are 50 people in the choir and about 15 in the live orchestra.

“I think it’s just phenomenal for the community to honor our veterans in challenging times and show the significance of both the Lord and our country,” Sherry West of Seymour said Saturday during rehearsal. “We want to reach the community and bring unity.”

Organization for the program began in September with an idea by Ron Duncan and David Stout, and it grew from there.

“They remembered this program ‘With Freedom’s Holy Light’ we performed maybe about 15 years ago with First Baptist Church, and we thought now was the perfect time for it,” said Debby Stout, wife of David Stout and one of the organizers for the event.

Soon after the idea formed, Gardner took on a position as worship pastor at Central Christian Church and began working with the group to bring it all together.

The group passed out the parts the second week of September along with CDs for participants to listen to and learn their parts.

The group practiced Wednesdays, and musicians joined similar to how the choir did gathering from across southern Indiana.

“I’ve done various programs of different sizes, was in charge of a living Christmas tree presentation, but this orchestra and choir is a little bigger than what I’m used to,” Gardner said.

The size of the choir was both a little intimidating and exciting to many of the members, who come from smaller churches with smaller choirs.

“I feel so blessed,” West said. “This is such a talented group of artists all collected in one spot. It’s amazing how fast they learn. I’m blessed to be a part of it.”

West said she had participated in smaller church choirs but nothing quite as big as this one.

“When you have a choir with this many voices, it gives the order of things, the way they are and the way they should be (in relation to country and God),” said Ron Schrader of Seymour. “We are one church. The churches are coming together the way our country needs to come together.”

The event is free to the public both Saturday and Sunday, but a donation will be accepted.

“I hope that people who hear it get a renewed sense of what a great country we live in,” Gardner said.

On Saturday, the donations will go to Wounded Warrior Project. On Sunday, the donations will be made to Samaritan’s Purse to help with hurricane relief efforts in the southern United States.

If you go

What: “With Freedom’s Holy Light,” a communitywide Veterans Day program incorporating choirs from area churches and a live orchestra

When: 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Central Christian Church, 1434 W. Second St., Seymour

Cost: Free; however, freewill donations will be accepted (donations from Saturday’s show will go to Wounded Warrior Project, and donations from Sunday’s show will go to Samaritan’s Purse to help with hurricane relief efforts in the southern United States

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Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.