The congregation of First Baptist Church in Benton was treated to a concert by its student choir Pure Energy on Sunday, June 4, following the group’s nine-day tour to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
According to the First Baptist Church website, the student choir “has developed a reputation throughout the nation for its commitment to excellence and its consistent strength in numbers.”
For several years, the group has numbered more than 100 active students in grades 8-12. “With an emphasis on worship, textual understanding, musicianship, structure, discipline, commitment, and student leadership, the choir has developed a strong tradition with which students want to be identified,” the website said.
Brenton Butcher, junior high/senior high school pastor, said Pure Energy is a sub ministry of their student ministry called “Upper Room” students.
“Pure Energy really hits the heart of what it means to worship, which we believe is an essential part of what it means to be a disciple of Christ,” Butcher said. “Pure Energy provides an opportunity to develop a relational intimacy with each other and with God that some of our other events or programs could not provide. It provides them with spiritual nourishment. Worship and song are such a simple and easy way to respond to God and who He is.”
This was Butcher’s second year to embark on the Pure Energy tour, which he said the church has done for more than 30 years.
Outgoing Pure Energy President Elizabeth Armstrong, who graduated valedictorian at Benton High School this spring, said during the trip they focused on worship and performed several concerts, sharing songs they learned throughout the last semester.
“Our focus of the week was to encounter God and so many of us did. We had a great week. We got closer to the Lord and each other,” Armstrong said.
A few songs they sang along the way include, “Victor’s Crown,” “I Thank God,” “Let the Light In” and “Revelation 19:1.”
Armstrong described the tour as an opportunity for a wide range of ages to connect with each other and take those new connections and connect with God in a way many of them have never experienced before.
“Getting to do that together, to me, just signified the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. We get to experience that together,” she said. “It’s just amplified our connection and our connection with God. It’s been amazing.”
Armstrong was one of 106 students to go on the choir tour. There were 150 participants in total including adults.
“Watching our kids experience worship and dive into worship the way that they did and the way that they do is like everything that this trip is worth,” Worship Pastor Joel Winters said. “It is a missions trip in some ways, but it’s a disciple tour to build worshippers.”
During the tour, the group served at Knoxville Area Rescue Mission, a ministry that cares for the homeless in Knoxville, Tennessee. Additionally, they sang on the sand dunes in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, at Union Square in Hickory, North Carolina, and held their Concert with God at First Baptist Church in Hickory. The group also sang at Transformation Village and the Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville, North Carolina.
They spent the last few days of their trip at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina, where they held a retreat/camp of their own.
Prior to the Sunday, June 4, service, the group took a moment to share what God did in their lives and what they have seen God do during the tour. The new Pure Energy student leaders were also announced as the outgoing leaders, like Armstrong, stepped down.
“Throughout my high school years, I’ve had a lot of positions and places in my life where I’ve been able to lead and just do something for others. I just wanted to let you all know, this is by far my favorite,” Armstrong told those in attendance. “It’s so much more than me. I think that is why it is so impactful because it is not about me. It’s not about us – amazing as you guys have been. It’s been about God. And I am just so grateful that every heart in this room recognizes that this week. You all are amazing, and I can’t wait to see what you all are going to do.”