With a little faith and a little luck, the La Jolla Gospel Choir has secured the opportunity of a lifetime. They will perform at an evangelical church in Spain.
On the weekend of Sept. 10, 38 members of the La Jolla Gospel Choir will perform during morning worship services at the Evangelical Community Church in Torremolinos, Spain, and in the city square. It is part of what the group is calling a Christian cultural outreach.
"It takes faith for something like this to happen," said choir member Lou Ann Farrar. "You don't know what is going to happen. You can't calculate how it's going to happen. You just believe that God will bless what we're going to do because we love him."
The story of how a small choir in La Jolla with all of two years of history went from performing at small local congregations to traveling to Spain involved being in the right place at the right time.
A few years ago, Pastor Bernard of the Torremolinos Evangelical Community Church was illegally arrested for espousing his Protestant beliefs publicly in the heavily Catholic country of Spain. After an apology from the mayor of Torremolinos, the city granted Bernard the use of the town square for one weekend a year to share his beliefs.
Earlier this year, the La Jolla Gospel Choir performed at the City Heights Grace Evangelical Methodist Church. Pastor Kurt Kettner-Borough had met Bernard and knew of his desire to have a gospel choir come and perform in Torremolinos.
Kettner-Borough volunteered the group from La Jolla.
"I said, 'Are you kidding me?'" said Sheila Hittle, the director of the La Jolla Faith Choir, when approached with the idea of performing in Spain. "We jumped on it."
With little time to prepare, the group had to act quickly. The per-person cost for the trip is $1,300, and the choir held a number of fund-raisers, bringing in more than $12,000 to assist those who wanted to make the trip but couldn't afford it. The bond created through fund-raising and trip planning is almost as valuable as the trip itself.
"It wasn't just the members of the choir that were going to Spain involved in this," said Herb Farrar, Lou Ann's husband and a fellow choir member. "All of the members - even those who were not going - spent time serving. I think there has already been a personal benefit in getting to know more of the choir members. We had to set up some committees. This caused us to really get to know each other personally. We found out the needs of everyone and are able to pray for one another. A lot of the benefit of the trip has already happened before even getting on the plane."
While Spain is primarily a Catholic country, Torremolinos is a resort town, with people from all around the world there.
Members of the choir hope to have a good time while exposing people to the blessings and joy that is gospel music.