Every Tuesday and Friday, the Webster University Gospel Choir meets in the presentation room at the University Center to practice for concerts they hope will spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of the group, as junior advertising and marketing communications major and president of the gospel choir Robert Richardson puts it, is ministry through music.
“We are a faith-based organization on campus and we deliver the gospel through song, and that is what our purpose is—to spread love and joy through the good news of Christ,” Richardson said.
Richardson said he wants the group to feel welcoming to people of all faith denominations and religions.
“We are very inclusive, and we try not to turn anyone away,” Richardson said. “Even if you don’t want to sing in the choir, you can sign up to be a supporter. We have other stuff you can do—you can be an usher at a concert. We try to stay as open as we can.”
Richardson said it is important anyone involved in the choir feel at home, and like they will be treated like family.
Zoe Burton, vice president for the choir and a sophomore majoring in film studies and political science, sees her experience as matching this idea of inclusivity.
“It’s definitely gotten me more involved and connected to more people,” Burton said. “It has helped make me more comfortable with who I am.”
Burton said her favorite event with the group was at the Life Center International Church of God in Christ. She said she enjoyed being able to not only sing and minister to them, but also enjoyed being able to sit through their service.
“As a spiritual person myself, I was able to commune with God and that was great,” Burton said. “It didn’t feel restricted, it’s just the atmosphere. The people there were really nice, and they made me feel at home. Plus, it was with gospel choir, so it was also nice to be with friends.”
When it comes to setting up events, the choir typically handles most of the logistics. There is no staff to handle equipment or other supplies, so it is up to them to bring in instruments, apparel and anything else they might need.
Richardson said, at its core, the choir’s main goal is to spread “the good news of Christ.”
“The good news of Christ is that He has done a redemptive work for us on the cross, so that we don’t have to die and be condemned to a terrible fate, but instead that we can have eternal life with Him,” Richardson said. “With that being in the gospel, we sing about it.”
In order to spread this news, the choir attends meetings to rehearse with Richardson guiding their efforts to learn new songs.
“I like to keep it a bit diverse in the types of gospel music we sing,” Richardson said. “Gospel music spans across many different types: there is spiritual, there are hymns, there is contemporary gospel music, there is traditional gospel music … and I typically try to keep that aspect of the choir open to preference.”
The choir takes part in other charity events, such as food drives.
“No matter what the stereotype of Christians may be, no matter the kind of sermon that might go viral, the true core of our faith is love—we love through argument, we love through disagreement and that genuine heart of caring is what the choir and myself really want to relate to people,” Richardson said.
The choir is preparing for this semester’s first concert on Oct. 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Winifred Moore Auditorium. They recently performed at the Homecoming Shop, Rock & Glow Festival Sept. 23.
“The members are great, and it’s open to anyone and everyone,” Burton said.