Provo choir brings together different faiths

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Dave Lewis directs the Provo Interfaith Choir on Sunday, Dec. 8, at a rehearsal. Lewis has been directing the choir since it began about six years ago. (Scott Baylon)

Dave Lewis sits with dozens of members of different faiths, all coming together to sing, every Sunday night at the United Church of Christ.

Lewis, the Artistic director and conductor of the Provo Interfaith Choir, helps the choir thrive. The choir members enjoy their time together and are united as they sing.

Lewis has been directing the choir for about seven years and said he loves helping join people together in songs of worship. He coined his own phrase, “being the fly on the music stand,” which means he gets to see the choir members become a part of the choir family as he directs them.

“It’s fun for me to observe what is all going on with people that have different backgrounds,” Lewis said. Even with different ideas, these people come together for something they love and they become friends.

Lewis said he grew up singing and playing various instruments. He started playing the organ for the United Church of Christ, which led him to the choir director position.

This year, Lewis said the Provo Interfaith Choir has grown to between 30 and 45 people. Having committees and a presidency has helped the choir be organized and has allowed the choir to be invited to perform at various events.

Additionally, Lewis said he enjoys spending time with the other choir members. He said a few of them are some of the most charitable people he has ever met.

One event the choir performs at is Carols by Candlelight, which is a program celebrating the birth of Jesus. BYU alumn Joshua Sykes attended last year’s Carols by Candlelight and was recruited by a choir member. Sykes has now participated in the choir for almost a year. 

He said he encourages BYU students and faculty to get involved to serve the people of other faiths in their community.

“It’s a great way to break down barriers, learn to accept and appreciate the ‘other’ and increase the love and unity that we call Zion,” Sykes said. “I am a part of it because I love the camaraderie that we have.”

Choir members sing on Sunday, Dec. 8. From left, Joshua Sykes, Isaac Hale, Verl Woodbury and Steve Perry. The choir consists of about 35-40 people. (Scott Baylon)

Betty Ann Olmsted said she has been a part of the choir for a little over a year and has her heart in every bit of it. She is originally from Kansas but loves being in Utah because she said the state has the nicest people. She said she has never hugged so many people since moving to Utah.

Olmsted’s favorite part about the choir is the love and fellowship it has.

“This is the best group of loving people. We all love each other. We come here and sing praises to God,” Olmsted said. “We sit down and we have fellowship and eat, and every new person who comes fits right in, just like that.”

Not only does the choir rehearse weekly, but they are also a group of friends who get together often. They have movie nights, BBQs, sing-a-longs and other events together. 

Lewis said at the beginning the choir was so social that rehearsals were difficult because people were chatting. To solve this, they started having a provided social dinner after every rehearsal.

BYU alumnus Bret Pope, Lewis’ best friend, has been in the choir since it began. Pope inherited a love for music from his dad who was a country singer. He learned to get out of his shell at BYU where he was cosmo in 1989, something he said has helped him be less afraid to share his talents in the choir. 

The Provo Interfaith Choir is open to whoever wants to join. (Provo Interfaith Choir/Isaac Hale)

Being a part of this choir helps Pope remember that everyone is just trying to be better and serve others.

“The thing that makes this choir special to me is that everyone is so dedicated,” Pope said. “They have no requirement to come, it’s just that they want to and they pay for the right to be a part of this choir.”

This year Pope is excited for the choir to sing a song about the Savior’s birth that he composed with Lewis called “The Sleepy Lamb.”

Pope said that the choir is becoming more well-known and performing at more events. Rehearsals are every Sunday at 5 p.m. at Provo Community Congregational United Church of Christ at 175 N. University Ave. More information on the choir is available on their Facebook page.

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