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  • Writer's pictureDiocese of WNC

St. James Transforms Candlemas Concert into Harmonies of Hope

By Sinclaire Sparkman, Diocesan Missioner for Communication


More than three decades ago, St. James, Hendersonville, began an annual Candlemas concert to raise money to fight hunger in Henderson County, and this year the concert took on a different shape to support the same cause.


"On Saturday, April 27th, I actually felt the smiling presence of our co-founders, Nancy Morton and Frank Byrd, as our 33-year tradition of having a Candlemas concert smoothly transitioned to the reimagined Harmonies of Hope concert. Our beautiful, newly developed Sanctuary Garden Chapel provided us the opportunity to move the concert outdoors with the addition of food trucks and fun and games for the young and young at heart all while keeping the original goal of feeding the hungry in Henderson County," said Tari Watson, a lead organizer and member of St. James.


The Candlemas concert had always been held inside the church and brought in acts like Elizabeth Von Trapp, classical pianists, jazz trios, and acapella groups. The monies raised (typically around $10,000) are given to three organizations: Interfaith Assistance Ministries, The Storehouse, and the Hendersonville Rescue Mission.


"We always had a very elaborate reception afterward, and all through the years we had beautiful musical concerts that were just a big event for our church family," Watson said. "But after Covid hit, it was kind of a reset for this concert."


This year, as some organizers plan to retire or take a step back, they decided to take the concert to a new level, making it more kid-friendly and community-friendly.


Harmonies of Hope was set outside in the Sanctuary Garden Chapel and included food trucks, bluegrass act Molasses Creek playing toe-tapping tunes, and games and activities.


"Part of the change to this format was to make it more attractive to younger people, families with children, and also to bring it to the wider community," said Dorothy Fantle, a lead organizer and St. James member.


The outdoor concert brought in about 150 people, including some who were drawn in from downtown Hendersonville by the music. Watson said those who wandered in were happy to support the cause.


"I'm so hoping that this moves forward, even with some of our organizers passing the torch, it was just a really fun time," Watson said.


The Harmonies of Hope concert also brought in some local vendors like the Toy Company to set up games for the kids and Mini Batch Bakery, along with a BBQ food truck and some vegetarian options as well. Families could play games like giant Jenga, hula hoops, cornhole, and do some drawing with sidewalk chalk.


"I love serving a parish that knows how to have fun together and do good for the community, all at the same time. That's exactly what our incredible team of lay leaders did in putting together Harmonies of Hope. I can't say enough about their vision, leadership, and dedication not only to St. James, but also to those on the margins in our community," said the Rev. David Henson, rector of St. James.


Find more information about St. James Episcopal Church in Hendersonville at https://stjamesepiscopal.com.


Photos by Bob Coffey


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