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Moreland City making soulful connections

Moreland City making soulful connections

Moreland City making soulful connections

10 June 2019

Jason Simmonds (front, centre) and the Moreland City gospel choir – taking the love of Jesus into their local community and beyond.

By Jessica Morris

When Jason Simmonds began attending Moreland City Corps in Melbourne three years ago he never dreamed it would become the hub for an exciting new gospel choir.

Jason created Melbourne Contemporary Choir (affectionately known as MCCHOIR) in 2015, and, as creative director, it allows him to pursue his passion for music while working full-time as a Senior Research Scientist with global biotechnology company CSL Ltd.

The choir has grown from 15 members to more than 100 people of all ages being involved in a number of choirs that have performed at many different events at some of Melbourne’s premiere venues.

The latest edition, MCGOSPEL choir, calls Moreland City Corps its home base and has been warmly embraced by the corps community.

“I have always sung in choirs growing up in The Salvation Army, through the singing company and songster brigades. I really missed the sense of community and belonging I felt in those groups,” Jason said.

“I felt a need to start a community-based choir where everyday people could access performance opportunities as part of a singing family. Many of our members have been touched by cancer, lost loved ones, struggling with crippling back pain, disabilities and life trauma and find solace in singing together and respite from the rigours of a busy modern life.”

The choir is building a growing community family.

Twelve auditioned members rehearse at the corps weekly, and are joined by the other members on various occasions.

The choir performed recently with the Moreland City Corps band at a breast cancer fundraiser, and have seen a lot of “cross-pollination”, according to Jason, with members attending services, volunteering for the Red Shield Appeal and baking cupcakes for outreach ministry.

The Moreland City Corp family has warmly embraced the choir members.

“For many, it is a very big ask for them to venture into The Salvation Army culture if they have not grown up in the Army and it’s the Army’s mission that wherever there is hardship or injustice we will live, love and fight alongside others,” Jason said.

“Today more than ever this is done often outside of the four walls of our halls. More than ever people need to see ‘God with skin on’.”

The repertoire of MCGOSPEL ranges from hits by Kirk Franklin [American gospel musician] to tunes from hit movie Sister Act, making them accessible for secular and church events. While the choir and its song list are not inherently religious, the community they have created and message they share points towards the love of Christ.

“There are many stories of members of the wider choir family who have found a sense of identity belonging to the group. [We’ve had many] members who have faced some pretty tough life situations and the choir has rallied around to support fellow members in their time of need,” Jason said.

Inspired by William Booth’s famous telegram, Jason co-wrote the song “Others” with Jared Haschek. It has been set to brass band music by Brian Hogg and is performed by MCCHOIR.

You can download a free studio version, featuring Rod Davies here

Melbourne Contemporary Choir will present a concert at Moreland City Salvation Army on 22 June at 7.30pm. Various choirs, including MCGOSPEL, will perform. Tickets can be obtained at eventbrite.com

For more information about MCGOSPEL, MCCHOIR and teen choir MCYOUTH click here: or Insta handle: @melbcchoir and Facebook: Melbourne Contemporary Choir

 

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