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First United Methodist Church celebrates Pentecost with Dixieland jazz

Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Provided photo)
John Smith, leader of A Wing and a Prayer Dixieland Orchestra, plays the trombone at the First United Methodist Church of DeKalb's Pentecost service in 2011. The service uses Dixieland jazz music to enliven a celebration that is meant to be joyful and represent the return of Jesus Christ to his disciples.

A blending of religious and musical spirits will happen at First United Methodist Church’s Pentecost celebration on Sunday.

The worship service, which will take place at the church on 321 Oak St., DeKalb, will be imbued with a jazzy sensibility from the A Wing and a Prayer Dixieland Orchestra. The Pentecost celebration is meant to be joyful, and the music selected will go back and forth between the religious and secular, said John Smith, leader of A Wing and a Prayer. 

“What we’re trying to do is bridge that gap by using the music as a funnel for the people to celebrate,” Smith said.

Pentecost is about Jesus Christ returning to his disciples after he died, said Jon Hutchison, First United Methodist Church pastor. His return filled the disciples with joy because they knew they would not be alone anymore. They also would become empowered by the Holy Spirit and be able to minister other people, Hutchison said.

“Next to Easter, it’s the most joyful celebration in the church,” Hutchison said.

Pentecost was originally an agricultural celebration for the first fruits of the spring season, he said. The celebration represents a new season of growth and all the people who will benefit from the crops that are grown. 

“It’s particularly germane to DeKalb where agriculture is a big deal,” Hutchison said. 

What separates Methodists from other Christians is how they develop their faith, Hutchison said. Methodists rely on a method to understand God’s faith as unconditional and concerned with helping people. He said Methodists follow the general rules created by the founders such as doing no harm to others and doing all the good a person can do.

The music for the worship service is done in the spirit of New Orleans jazz. Smith said he and a few colleagues began looking at some of the early music that came from jazz that is sometimes called Dixieland music. That style of music is meant to bring a new feeling to the celebration of Pentecost.

“That’s what I hope this worship service will do for people who have been estranged from just going to church,” Smith said.

Songs in the service include a tribute to New Orleans called “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” and another called “Pentecostal Power.” Smith said “Pentecostal Power” is a “rock-bottom gospel-thumping song.”

Smith said there are lot of ways for people to find God and practice their faith. Worship is one of the most integral parts of practicing their faith, he said.

“This Sunday is the opportunity for people to have fun, to worship, to celebrate and do all those fun things they like to do with Dixieland music,” Smith said.


If you go

What: Pentecost celebration featuring A Wing and a Prayer Dixieland Orchestra

Where: First United Methodist Church, 321 Oak St., DeKalb

When: 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday

Information: 815-756-6301

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