the singing stones
GCC has always had an active choir program. In the 1970’s, GCC’s youth choir evolved into one of GCC’s most powerful and visible ministries, as well as the Village of Glenview’s largest active youth organization: The Singing Stones.
The name “The Singing Stones” traces back to a time when a legend was shared with the choir at an annual summer camp. Campers exchanged smooth stones as tokens of love and affection during a worship service. The legend became a theme for the choir and message that they ultimately shared with thousands of people in congregations and audiences all over the world.
Music is like the stones. And the relationships people share can be like stones. They can start out rough and uneven. But, as we work on them and as we share love between us they can become smooth, polished and beautiful.
Ron Clonts, member at GCC, began as Youth Choir director in the fall of 1969 and set the original mindset of what is now the UCC battle cry “No matter who you are… you are welcome here”, in that he preferred an audition process that “screened everybody in and nobody out.” His skillful and charismatic leadership swelled participation to overflowing in the choir loft, gathering students of high school age from several different religious backgrounds and 5 different high schools! Even after their high school graduation into college, many members continued to perform with the choir whenever they could. The popularity of this group was also attributed to its varied repertoire that included spirituals, traditional sacred songs, Broadway tunes, rock musicals, American folk songs and patriotic numbers—something for everyone, everywhere!
Ron had able assistance in his endeavors—his wife, Sally acted as choir manager in charge of all things logistical, emotional, social and vocal; Tom Macfadden as assistant director; Marilyn Bergquist as director of “The Stepping Stones”, the choir’s dance unit; and Bob and Kay Warskow who traveled with the group as chaperones and official representatives of GCC.
The Singing Stones were very active musical ambassadors for GCC: the choir sang in one GCC service every week during the “regular” church year, sang at other churches and synagogues, as well as for civic organizations and community groups. Each year, they took their musical message on tour nationally, and on 3 occasions, internationally, to the British Isles, Canada and Scandinavia. Throughout their years of active choir membership, The Singing Stones formed lasting bonds of friendship in their concerts, travels and fund-raising events. They worked diligently to be self-sustaining, financing their trips through sales of homemade pizzas (created in legendary quantities in the church kitchen), car washes, small group performances, and sales of their 5 recorded albums (prehistoric versions of CD’s). The range of these activities enabled hundreds of young people to express their individual talents in a way that helped shape their lives, then and now!
Ron retired in 1980, but the Stones continued in spirit, reconnecting every Christmas Eve, singing the candlelight service at GCC, up until just a few years ago—more than 40 years of dedicated service—ending with the everlasting call of “Let There Be Peace… and let it begin with me”. It was a wonderful period in GCC history, and one that many of us “old Stones” will never forget.
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