A Song of Africa Comes to Red Lodge

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, March 28, 2019
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Photo by Hunter Graham
The African Children’s Choir came to Red Lodge this past Sunday, March 25.

On Sunday, March 25, the African Children’s Choir performed to an enthralled audience of about 300 people at the Civic Center in Red Lodge. The African Children’s Choir has become another welcome sign of spring in Red Lodge. 

The children went through a repertoire of songs from their new album combining traditional Christian hymns but with the rhythm of Africa behind them. The energy was palpable and the crowd seemed to share the excitement of the children. The group this year is from Uganda. All of these children have their education now paid through college. They are singing to raise funds for the kids to come next year. 

Hope Chapel Red Lodge 4square hosted the event and Pastor Dan Swaningson  said, “I was absolutely blessed and overjoyed to have been a part of bringing this unifying and  delightful group to Carbon County. Everyone and everything surrounding the event was a joy to me with my greatest joy being seeing all the smiling faces and the spring in the steps of all who came and left uplifted.”

Swansingson said it was a big success. “They had a fund raising goal of $3,000 for the event. We sent them off with $4,500, Thank you Red Lodge!” 

The children just glowed with life as they expressed a pure and sweet sound with great enthusiasm. The audience responded in kind with their applause. Perhaps it is the taste of war and loss that makes these children so appreciative of life and opportunities gained not to mention the excitement of world travel. They are on a tour of the United States. 

Pastor Swaningson talked about this “amazing day.” “Everyone left with a smile on their face from the youngest kids to the most seasoned citizens. The most common comment I heard was an appreciation of the pure joy that they exude and bring to everyone who experienced them. The energy they put into their performance is also an oft commented on aspect— energy, talent and joy... Everyone who has anything to do with the kids, from hosting them at their homes to helping feed them after the event, just falls in love with them. They are some of the sweetest and well-mannered children you will ever meet. Not to mention supremely talented.”

He explained the church’s history with the group. “We have hosted the AFC once before, back in 2016 and were therefore on their list of people to contact as they were scheduling this year’s tour of this part of the country. I was also involved in hosting them a couple times when I was a Children’s Pastor at Hope Center 4sq in Billings years ago so I have a long history with them.”

Hosting is not a simple event for the group of 17 children as well as their chaperones. Swaningson explained, “Hosting involves paying a booking fee of several hundred dollars, providing a venue, finding host families to house the kids and chaperones while they are here and promoting the event. Because they were here on Sunday morning and because we cannot fit the anticipated crowd into our small facility on Broadway we just made the event at the Civic Center our church service that day even forgoing our Sunday morning offering in lieu the love offering for the AFC (African Children’s Choir fund). This time, as last, I received many positive comments and many thank you’s from the 300 or so who attended.”

Tina Sipp, the African Children’s Choir Manager, believes these children are the leaders of tomorrow since a good education is rare in Uganda. By accepting these full scholarships, they attend colleges or technical schools of their choice in their own country to encourage their participation in its future. The children leave their country that has seen an end to recent civil war but whose citizens continue to experience deprivation, the loss of loved ones and lingering fear, hunger and poverty. 

Pastor Swaningson said, “We are always thrilled to be able to bring such a well known and widely appealing group to Red Lodge and to be able to help them in their mission to finance their ongoing work amongst the orphans and destitute children of Uganda, a country that has been torn by wars and disease for decades.”

He added his “thanks to the many in our church and from the community who volunteered to make this happen from set up, tear down, hosting, feeding and planning. It really was a community event.”

Like the roar of early March, these boys and girls who have seen too much suffering, ushered out the month not as lambs but as courageous young lions and lionesses singing of hope for a better world to come. 

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

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