Interdenominational concert to be headlined by contemporary Christian music star

Xopheriggs
Matt Maher, a contemporary Christian music artist, has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards. His Echoes of Worship tour makes a stop at the performing arts center in Voorheesville’s secondary school on Sunday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m.

VOORHEESVILLE – As the population of steady churchgoers is aging — half of American Catholics are over the age of 50, according to Pew Research — a group of local churches have come together to support what they think might be one solution: bringing contemporary Christian music artist Matt Maher to town for a concert.

“We feel that music is a very powerful tool for evangelization; that sometimes music can move and stir the soul in directions that, maybe, something else hasn’t,” said Peggy McQuade, the pastoral associate for hospitality at Saint Matthew’s Church in Voorheesville.

Maher and his Echoes of Worship tour will perform at Voorheesville’s secondary school on Sunday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. Maher, who is Catholic, has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards, most recently in 2017 for his album, “Echoes.” In 2015, he was named Songwriter of the Year at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.

“Saint Augustine said, ‘Those who sing, pray twice,’” Madge Devine, the pastoral associate for liturgy and music at Saint Matthew’s, answered wryly when asked what music can add to the church experience.

“You need good preaching and good music,” Devine said, “that’s what you need to have a good church community. If one is lacking, then the whole thing suffers.”

Saint Matthew’s, a Catholic Church, has teamed with Saint Thomas the Apostle, a Catholic Church, in Delmar; Christ the King, a Catholic Church, in Guilderland; First United Methodist Church, in Voorheesville; and New Scotland Presbyterian Church to put on the concert.

“We try to be ecumenical; we are  Christian,” Devine observed of the interdenominational collaboration.

The concert has been two years in the making, McQuade said; that’s when Saint Matthew’s received a grant from the Archdiocese of Albany. Since then, it’s been about trying to get schedules to work. “We are beyond excited to be able to have this event,” McQuade said.

McQuade said that the concert’s organizers wanted to be able to attract teens and young families, “to help them in their faith journey.” She added, “It could be a very helpful tool for anybody who’s soul-searching; looking for some inner peace”

Religious music has the power to act like the angel in your ear.

An experiment by Martin Lang, of the University of Connecticut, exposed participants to three kinds of sound – religious, secular, or white noise. Participants were then given the opportunity to lie about the answers to math problems they had been given, in order to increase their monetary reward.  

The results of the experiment suggested “that religious participants were more influenced by the auditory religious stimuli than non-religious participants.” Those who heard the religious sound, lied less.

“We propose that religious music can function as a subtle cue associated with moral standards via cultural socialization and ritual participation,” the study says.

Concerts work too.

A couple of years ago,“we held a concert here with the contemporary Christian group Finding Favour; they have a number of songs on the radio,” McQuade said. “I would say, it was fairly successful.”

McQuade said that the organizers are also relying on the word-of-mouth of some of the younger congregants.

“There are teens from the area that went to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis,” McQuade said. The multi-day event offers its young attendees the opportunity to pray, perform liturgy, attend workshops, and participate in confession; there are also concerts and dances.

Maher had performed at the most recent conference, in 2017, McQuade said. “So we are hoping that the teens and young adults from here who have attended the event would be familiar with the name, ‘Matt Maher.’” And, hopefully, they would pass on the news to their own networks.

Both McQuade and Devine concede that contemporary Christian music is being played in Catholic churches, but they say it is site-specific. “It depends on who your music director is,” Devine said.

Almost half of Catholics in the United States are over the age of 50, according to Pew Research; while 17 percent of Catholic adults are under the age of 30. By playing contemporary Christian music, and trying to skew younger, is the church alienating its core-worshipping demographic? Has there been pushback?

“Well, every now and then, but not very often, someone says something – but they are aging out,” Devine said. At a lot of Catholic churches, she said, “You look out, and all you see is white hair.”

If all goes well, McQuade hopes this will be the start of a new contemporary Christian music initiative for the community, with annual events like the Aug. 5 concert. “Not just for Saint Matthew’s Church but for all church communities; an ecumenical, worship and praise event,” she said.

Devine offered potential concert-goers advice: “If they choose to come, come with an open heart and be willing to praise God – and they will leave with a full heart.”

****

The Echoes of Worship Tour with Matt Maher will be at the Lydia C. Tobler Performing Arts Center at Voorheesville’s secondary school on Sunday, August 5, at 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale at www.iTickets.com, and at Saint Matthew’s Church, 25 Mountainview St., Voorheesville, NY 12186.

Adult pre-sale: $25; students: $20; groups of 10 or more: $20; tickets at the Door: $30; and V.I.P. question and answer: $50.  

For more information, contact Peggy McQuade by phone at: 518-765-2805, ext. 14 or by email at: st.mattswelcome@gmail.com.   

More New Scotland News

  • Jonathan Phillips, the owner and president Phillips Hardware, said he thought that the roof began to collapse on the South Main Street building  sometime toward the end of November, and that the massive snowstorm that hit in mid-December “didn’t help,” adding, “That was probably the big factor, all that weight.”

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.