Upbeat Results for ‘Praise in the Park’

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

praise in the park2     Richard Moll is bringing a good report Oct. 13 to the Rockford City Council about last summer’s “Praise in the Park” series in downtown Rockford.
   “There were 18 Sunday evening events put on by 12 churches, two Christian bands, and two individuals,” said Moll in a recent newsletter.
    This was the third summer for the Sunday evening series, which features inspirational/praise music at no charge provided by a variety of area artists – most of them worship teams from northern Kent County churches.
     “Both the artists and the audiences were very pleased with the program this year,” noted Moll, the founder and organizer of the Praise in the Park event held in Garden Park along the Rogue River.
     “I’ve already received interest from four or five churches or bands that would like to be a part of next year’s program,” he added. “Everyone was pleased with the event and appreciative of the opportunity to enjoy Christian music in the setting we have.”
     The numbers tell the story: More than 4,800 persons attended the 18 Sunday night events – an average of roughly 270 per week. The total nearly doubled the 2013 figures, although this year included an additional two Sundays in September.
     Moll has worked with several merchants in downtown Rockford, such as Custard by the Dam and Vitales, to provide coupon discounts to persons attending the Sunday evening concerts.
     He also provides web space for the effort, at http://www.rpmoll.com/Praise/index.htm.
     The series requires approval each year by the Rockford City Council. Moll is a former council member and has also served as mayor.

                             SOWING THE SEEDS

     Moll, a retired educator, conceived the idea back in 2012.
     “We had a blues series down here on Tuesday nights, and open mic nights, too,” he recalled.
     “I thought…why not praise music? No offering, no sermon, just music for people to enjoy.”
     Initially he asked some churches around Rockford to be a part of the event, bringing their worship teams or other musicians to perform.
     Since then a wider array of churches has joined in, including congregations from Cedar Springs, Solon Center, Belmont and Comstock Park.
   
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  This year groups from as far as Kent City and Casnovia also participated.

     Some churches have been part of the series from the beginning, including Rockford United Methodist, Rock River Church and Blythefield Hills Baptist.
     Several area Christian bands such as CrossWise and Perfect Shelter have also led the program. Singer-songwriter-worship leader Marty Miller has also been a fixture.
     Most church groups do more than just play music. Some distribute song sheets to encourage the audience to sing along. Rockford Baptist Church brought a balloon artist for the kids. Some hand out snacks or other treats.
     Garden Park borders a section of the White Pine Trail, which meanders all the way from Grand Rapids to Cadillac. The walkers and bikers who are on the trail get a taste of the music as they go by. Some stop to listen.
     Moll also notes that in three summers – a total of 44 Sunday nights – there have been no weather cancellations or even any rain during Praise in the Park.

               CONTINUING THE WORK

     Starting and coordinating the series has been a labor of love for Moll. Many of the costs have come from his own pocket.
     “I would like to get a few people on board to assist me with planning and implementation,” he said, looking ahead to 2015. “I also hope to get a few businesses that could help out financially to offset expenses.”
   He remains committed to avoid taking offerings during the events.
   Moll said he would be willing to consult other churches or individuals who might want to start a similar event in parks or other public location in their neighborhoods. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
     In his most recent newsletter, Moll thanked participating churches, music artists and their supporters. “All of you are the ones that make Praise in the Park the success it has come to be,” he said.
     “A number of you have thanked me for arranging Praise in the Park,” he added. “But if it wasn’t for your talents and willingness to share the glory of God, the program would be nothing.”
     For anyone wanting to comment when Moll makes his report to the Rockford City Council, the meeting is at 7 p.m. Mon. Oct. 13 in Rockford City Hall, 7 S. Monroe St.

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
About:
Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present (1 year 6 months) Monthly publication and web site with news, features, and information of interest to the West Michigan Christian community Feature writer: Muskegon Chronicle April 1996 – Present (16 years 10 months) Writer: Kalamazoo Gazette July 1991 – Present (21 years 7 months) beat includes convering contemporary Christian and Gospel music feature writer Grand Rapids Press May 1988 – Present (24 years 9 months)

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