On March 29, Southridge Community Church will host the Gideon Festival of Praise. Admission is free but donations are encouraged to help raise money to purchase and circulate bibles.
The event is put on by the Lloydminster chapter of the Gideons International in Canada (GIC), a religious organization, which distributes bibles worldwide, most famously to hotels. The annual musical event is hosted by a different church each year.
“We try to move around from church to church. Last year, we had it at Living Faith Pentecostal Tabernacle and a couple of years ago it was at the Lloyd Gospel Fellowship church,” said GIC Lloydminster chapter president Wade Blythe. “We just try to move around so we can promote the local churches opposed to having it at one location because ... we’re an interdenominational group.”
This year, the musical entertainment will come courtesy of the Singing Hills, a bluegrass gospel family band originally from Ontario. The group is made up of Patti and Roger Hill, along with their daughters, Kim, Kari and Kelli, as well as their son-in-law Kevin Elias. Some grandchildren may also make an appearance on stage.
“This actually began with my husband’s family and his mom and dad. I married into the Singing Hills,” Patti Hill said. “It’s been a whole lifetime of doing this.”
Hill says her daughters are now part of that tradition. They learned to sing in harmony from a young age. This generation of the group has been performing since 1981.
“We never had to teach them a thing hardly ... because they were raised in the Singing Hills family and they were on tour with them so they grew up hearing it and knowing the parts.”
Hill says their shows feature a mix of musical styles like southern gospel and contemporary bluegrass, and there will even be a bit of comedy. She says the group likes to tell jokes and personal stories to make the audience feel like they know them when they leave.
“We do a lot of originals. We have some new music that we were just in the studio and just wrote,” she said. “We also throw in for the older crowd at least one or two hymns and we have audience participation as well. It makes them feel like they’re part of things”
Ahead of their date in Lloydminster, the Singing Hills will be in the area, performing at the Gideons banquet in Wainwright the day before, and at the Vermilion banquet the day after.
The Gideon Festival of Praise is at Southridge Community Church from 7 to 10 p.m.