MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) - When Barbara Woodstra started attending Faith United Church of Christ, she joined the choir immediately.
That was 69 years ago, the Muscatine Journal (https://bit.ly/1YVqNKl ) reports. Now, she plans to sing just from the pews instead of in the choir.
“I joined the choir right away because I had come from singing,” Woodstra said.
Her father had been a choir director and organist.
She joined her first church choir at age 7 - the Junior Choir at First Congregational Church of Revere, Massachusetts.
“There had been a lot of singing around my home and Sunday school teachers got the little ones to sing occasionally,” Woodstra said.
In December of 1946, her husband got a job at Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) so they moved from Massachusetts to Iowa. The following spring they started attending what is now Faith United at Mulberry Avenue and Houser Street when it was downtown. Woodstra was 21 years old at the time.
“I liked singing, and had a . decent voice, you know,” she said. “I’m not a soloist.”
She doesn’t have a favorite hymn, but is fond of “I come to the Garden Alone” because it reminds her of her mother.
She said her favorite part about being in the choir is the people she sings with and the people listening.
“We’ve been known to have a good choir here,” Woodstra said.
Zach Evans, the church’s choir director, said Woodstra is reliable.
“She’s very faithful, I can almost always count on her being there,” said Evans, who has been the choir director nearly two years.
Connie Miller, who retired about three years ago after directing the choir for 37 years, echoed those comments.
“She rarely missed - I can probably count on one hand the number of times,” Miller said, noting Woodstra missed only for health reasons.
Miller also quipped that Woodstra brought her eastern accent, always reminding the choir to not sing their r’s.
“It’s going to be very different,” Miller, who now sings in the choir, said about Woodstra leaving the choir.
Miller said Woodstra still has a good enough singing voice, but understands that this is the right time to step down.
“We’re just going sure going to miss her,” Miller said.
Woodstra likes where she sings. The sanctuary is adorned with a large, circular stained glass window that was taken from the downtown location - it provides fond memory of a beautiful church building that was too expensive to keep up. The church also brought its pipe organ from the old building and has a newer baby grand piano.
All of her children - two daughters and son - were married in the church and all six grandchildren baptized there.
She also likes the liberal denomination.
“All are welcome here,” Woodstra said.
Which is why Woodstra, 91, plans to keep coming to church.
“I’ll be here every Sunday like I’ve always been,” she said.
In good health, she affirms, she just doesn’t know if she’s up for being in the choir.
“I feel I’m old,” Woodstra said. “I don’t feel my voice is what it was.”
But she said she’ll be singing every Sunday - just in the pews wearing her Sunday best rather than next to the pulpit in a choir robe.
Information from: Muscatine Journal, https://www.muscatinejournal.com
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