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Luncheon and concert are part of 125th anniversary celebration

Fox Valley Festival Chorus concert to highlight church’s 125th anniversary celebration

Fox Valley Festival Chorus, an Aurora-based ensemble of 60-plus voices, will perform American made selections at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at Fourth Street United Methodist Church 551 S. Fourth St. in Aurora.

The concert will highlight the church’s 125th anniversary jubilee celebration. The daylong event opens at 9:45 a.m. with a worship service.

The public is invited. Tickets, $12 in advance and $15 at the door, include a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the concert.

Mary Beth McCarthy, chorus director, said choristers will perform songs from the group’s summer program, “What is This Thing Called Love? Selections from the American Songbook.”

The song list includes “Unforgettable,” “Blue Skies,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Isn’t It Romantic?” “Melancholy Baby,” “”The Way You Look Tonight” and “My Heart Will Go On (love theme from the movie Titanic).”

Summer concerts are set for 7 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Oswego Village Hall and 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Aurora.

According to McCarthy, the chorus is the oldest existing community chorus in Chicagoland, with over 65 years of service to the community.

The chorus recently performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City.

In June of 2017, McCarthy plans a concert tour to Italy. The itinerary includes performances at the Vatican in Rome, Venice, Florence and at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Assisi.

Chorus personnel are:

Aurora: Bonnie Werthmann (accompanist), Laura Anderson, Chris Bandurski, Rosemary Bennett, Marvin Bohm, Audrey Cannestra, Pat Carley, Sharon Catich, Karen Christensen, Chris Clementz, Heather Davis, Jenny Holzbauer, Candy Jones, Laura Lockhart, Polly Mittag, Linda O’Neill, Peggy Proud‐Edwards, Bonnie Rieser, Anya Rufle, Sally Scheef, Barb Smith, Linda Spurgin, Roger Spurgin, Bette Weaver, Carol Wilson, Robb Winder. The Spurgins are members of Fourth Street UMC.

Batavia: Robin Bjorkquist, Matt Domeier, Martha Holzer, Julie Kleitzing, Hogan Nguyen.

Elburn: Carol Alfrey, Mary Gramley, Melanie Zielinski.

Geneva: Claire Champer, Vicki Danklefsen.

Naperville: Mary Beth McCarthy (director), Shireen Bacchetti, Mary Kukla.

North Aurora: Joyce Dougherty, Cherie Esposito, Nancy Hacker, Linda Quantock David Wagner.

Oswego: Mike Brauweiler, Ren Brauweiler, Jan Connon, Nora Garcia, Karen Groszczyk, Stacey Limacher, Linda Marquardt, Sue Pastorek, Jenny Siegfried.

Plano: Marty Brauweiler, Cassie Dodd, Robin Richards.

St. Charles: Cheryl Hubka.

Sandwich: Larry Morgan, Sue Morgan, Mickie Offutt.

Sheridan: Julie Taber.

Sugar Grove: Ellen Kramer.

Warrenville: John Lowery.

Rev. Deborah Tinsley Taylor, Fourth Street UMC pastor and Sue Gilla of Aurora, church music director lead the celebration planning.

Activities will include a 9:45 a.m. worship service, luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the 1:30 p.m. Fox Valley Festival Chorus concert.

Also planned are historical displays, a silent auction and cake walk.

Silent auction donors include Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bears, Chicago Wolves, Funway, Luigi’s Pizza and Fun Center, Colonial Restaurants, Fox Valley Winery, Sci-Tech Hands On Museum, Funway, Lou Malnati’s, Banana Split, Runaway, Jake’s Bagels, George’s Restaurant, River View Restaurant, Select Restaurant and Men’s Wearhouse.

The worship service will feature music by guest pianist Steve McGraw of Montgomery, who grew up in the church; Mary Strong, Aurora, guest organist; and selections by Joyful Noise handbell choir and Voices of Fourth Street vocal choir. Gilla will direct both church groups.

Attendees will be invited to cast ballots for the top cakes homemade by church members for the cake walk. The top three cake bakers will receive awards.

Silent auction items will include a handmade quilt, gift baskets and gift cards from local businesses.

“Andy’s Weather Contest,” a contest to predict anniversary-day weather, will be held in conjunction with the jubilee celebration.

Created by Aurora resident Andy Hari, a church usher, the contest will invite predictions of temperature, precipitation, cloud cover and wind velocity on May 1.

A prize will be awarded for the most accurate prediction.

Gilla announced Fourth Street UMC members who are chairing celebration committees. They are:
Aurora–Joan Crawford and Paul Eggert, luncheon; Nancy Brian, Jubilee cakes; Judy Bieritz, historical displays; Chris Martin, tickets; Bieritz and Pat Oleck, silent auction; and Al Benson, publicity
Montgomery— Louise Hari, cake Walk; and Mona Middleton, decorations.
Oswego–Dan Kenyon, parking

Tickets, including lunch and the chorus concert, are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets are available from church members and at the church office from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday. Proceeds will benefit a drive to replace the church dining-room floor.

Fourth Street UMC dates to 1886 when worshippers, tired of inconvenient Sunday streetcar service to First Methodist Church, met in various homes for Sunday School.

In 1887, with $100 from Aurora pioneer Samuel McCarty and others, congregants formed the South End Mission. The mission held Sunday School and prayer meetings in a home on Rosewood Avenue.

A year later, the Seminary Chapel was established with a small building on Seminary Avenue between Broadway and Lasalle Street. Sunday school began May 12, 1888.

In 1891, 43 members formally organized Willard Methodist Episcopal Church.

As attendance grew rapidly, the church moved in 1898 from Seminary Avenue to its current location at Marion Avenue and Fourth Street.

Current facilities consist of the sanctuary built in 1906, education wing built in 1956 and new sanctuary built in 1974

After a 1986 fire destroyed the sanctuary, a restored sanctuary, offices and classrooms were dedicated in 1987 after a $1 million renovation.

Call (630) 897-5257 or email for more information.

Al Benson
Freelance Photo-Journalist

Al Benson is an Aurora-based freelance photo-journalist. He is currently an archives research specialist at Aurora University. His work has appeared in The Voice, The Daily Herald, The Beacon-News, and the Chicago Tribune.

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