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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Saline County Singing Convention celebrates a century

  • Gospel singers never die, they go on to sing in a bigger choir.
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  • Gospel singers never die, they go on to sing in a bigger choir.
    The Saline County Singing Convention has been recruiting members for that bigger choir for over one hundred years.
    The convention, a smaller group these days, was formed to "cultivate a more efficient love of music in general, to form a community and promote a love for Gospel singing," according to Convention historical notes.
    On Sunday, July 7 members and the public can enjoy a Centennial Celebration beginning with a potluck meal at 12:30 p.m. at Mt. Moriah Methodist Church on Mt. Moriah Road, north of Harrisburg off state Route 34.
    The music will start about 1:30 p.m. Times are not carved in stone, according to a press release.
    The group lost its first president on the World War I battlefields of France, Sept. 29, 1918. Horace Mann Ferrell died in battle at age 30.
    The group he helped start is still singing the gospel.
    The first meeting of the convention was held at Sulphur Springs Baptist Church on the second Sunday in May, 1913.
    Later meetings were held at Walnut Grove Church.
    When the convention grew larger it started using the Harrisburg Township High School auditorium.
    The convention sponsored a singing contest for county churches until the 1930s when the competition was discontinued.
    The current president is Don Haney who was a member of Sulphur Springs Baptist Church when he was a boy.
    Haney sings and plays guitar accompaniment.
    "I like going to different churches. We go to a different church every month. Usually it's the first Sunday of the month," Haney said.
    One longtime member, Harold Hicks, has a clown ministry in addition to his music ministry.
    He goes by the name of Zobo the Clown and can be seen in local parades and at birthday parties.
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