The Arts Committee along with the Music Ministry at St. John’s were extremely active in the 1970’s. The Music Ministry included an Adult Choir, Senior and Junior High Choirs, Children’s Choirs, and Handbells.
The Youth Choir performed a musical every year. In 1970, the performance was “Tell It Like It Is”. The Family News reported that the sanctuary was so full, 200 extra chairs were brought in. In subsequent years, they performed musicals entitled “A Natural High” (1971) , “Lightshine” (the Youth Choirs of St John’s, Myers Park, and Providence were chosen as one of the groups to premiere the piece)- a commentary on Christian living (1972), “ The Namegivers” by Youth Minister Rob Sellers (1973), “Celebrate Life” (1974 and 1979), “Tell It Like It Is” (again in 1975), “Revolutionary Ideas” by the entire Youth Choir and “God’s Trombones” by the Sound Revelation, a mixed ensemble from the Youth Choir (1976), “Beginnings” (1977), and “Bright New Wings” (1978). The Junior High Choir presented “100% Chance of Rain” about Noah (of course) at Family Night I 1976.
The Youth Choirs attended Music Week at Fort Caswell and Music Camps at Meredith College. The Handbell groups were also very active, participating in worship and attending Bell Festivals, some held at St. John’s. The Chancel and Youth choirs participated in and receive Superior ratings at Regional Choir Festivals. Orff instruments were purchased for the Children’s Music program.
The Adult Choir presented “Hodie-This Day” by Ralph Vaughan Williams with the Myers Park Choir, both accompanied by the NC Symphony and “Harmonie Messe- A Wind Based Mass”. Other special programs included “Elijah” by Mendelssohn, and a series of concerts of music from different eras, the Baroque, the Classical, and the Contemporary, and Brahms “Requiem”. The Arts Committee also sponsored organ recitals by Dr. Andre Lash.
In 1974, the Music and Worship Committee began the process of finding a new hymnal. The “Hymnbook for Christian Worship” was chosen the next year to replace the “Baptist Hymnal” which had been used for many years (probably since the organization of the church). Special music and Christmas pageants were presented at Advent Vespers held during the Advent season on Sunday afternoons beginning in 1976.
Drama was also a major focus of the Arts Committee. Nancy Nixon, along with some others, directed the St. John’s Players. They presented several plays as “dinner theater” –“The Miser” in 1976, “Never Too Late”, “God’s Favorite” (the story of Job), and “Harvey” in 1978, and “Murdered Alive” in 1979. Dramatic readings were presented as part of church services highlighting stewardship and as during Advent.
Several dramas were presented written by Lenora Cave, wife of the Senior Minister, Rev. Julian Cave. Lenora had worked with religious drama in college and decided to begin writing her own when she realized that there were few sources for religious drama. Among these presentations were “Last Take: No Script: Your Cue” with the themes of personal insecurity, ways to find God, and tough theological questions. “The Search” on Palm Sunday with themes of forgiveness (also performed at First Baptist in Decatur, GA) “The Sixth Day” about Creation, and “Covenant” about the role of women in the 1970’s. The later was also performed at First Baptist in Greenville, SC and at First Baptist in Raleigh.