It sounds like the start of a joke: one day some pastors got together to sing; a Methodist, an Episcopalian, a couple of Congregationalists and…. Although these men love to laugh, what they do is sing in harmony and they call themselves the Glory Land Parsons Band.
The Glory Land Parsons Band is made up of a group of local ministers who love to joke around, but when it comes to singing, they are nobody’s fool. Each performance hearkens back to an older time when harmonizing was the central focus and musical selections were drawn from hymn books.
With humor clearly evident in the clergy’s camaraderie with each other, it is surprising to hear that conception of the group came out of tragedy. It was during 9/11 when the Rev. Don Bliss of East Freetown Christian Congregational Christian Church happened to see the Rev. Bill Comeau of the United Church of Assonet putting up flyers, looking for participants in a candlelight vigil honoring the victims. The men quickly discovered they had more in common than just their faith.
“Our regard for each other rose out of Christian fellowship, then it turns out we had common passions, one of which was music,” the Rev. Bliss said.
The group’s first performance took place at the Biltmore Ballroom in Providence.
“We started at the top,” said the Rev. Bliss, laughing.
The group has now performed in venues ranging from churches to coffeehouses, with one of their latest performances taking place two months ago during the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches convention.
The past few years have seen a rotation of members. Along with the Rev. Comeau and the Rev. Bliss, the Rev. David Milan of the Church of Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Middleboro and the Rev. Dave Hammett of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in New Bedford round out the group’s current members.
Occasionally, others accompany them, but this group maintains their connection with a weekly breakfast. They said that their diverse religious backgrounds make their group stronger.
“But the Methodist guy sits at the next table,” quipped one of the ministers.
The members say that the driving force of the group is devotion.
“(The group) was God’s idea,” said the Rev. Bliss. “Here’s the odd thing. We’ve all been called to our churches all within the last eight years, and we all happen to have a background in music and performance in addition to our passion for the Lord. This is what I mean when I say it’s God’s idea. Nobody put an ad in the paper for tryouts. It’s a devotion thing.”
Beside humor and music, the group witnesses to God’s ability to overcome difference and for God’s love and power to shine through a diverse group of Christians.
“The truth is we have theological differences in our group, but we love each other,” said the Rev. Hammett.
“We recognize in each other that we’re all here because of God, to do His work and care for His people,” said the Rev. Bliss.
“And to have a good time while we’re doing it,” added the Rev. Hammett.
Read it all here.