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Sonshine Singers prepares for final ministry; performances set for this week

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Sonshine Singers members Claire Asay, left, and Malaney Butrick practice their tunes during a recent rehearsal at Fort Dodge Senior High.

The Sonshine Singers is preparing a musical farewell after 20 years of bringing the word of God to the community through song.

The group’s final regularly scheduled ministry will be Feb. 14-16 at First United Methodist Church, 127 N. 10th St.

The Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 performances will begin at 7 p.m. The Feb. 16 performance will begin at 2 p.m.

There is no admission charge, but a free will offering will be accepted and given to local food banks.

Although group members haven’t ruled out future special events or reunions, the three upcoming shows will be the last ones for the immediate future.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Sheryl Patten, from left, Ruth Babbitt and Keith Leeds, all members of the Sonshine Singers, rehearse recently at Fort Dodge Senior High.

The group’s director, Armona Redenius, decided that after 20 years, the time was right to conclude the ministry of the Sonshine Singers.

”Twenty years seemed like a wonderful cutoff point,” she said. ”It just seemed like God was leading me in this way.”

In reaching that decision, she thought often about a verse from the Bible’s Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes which states: ”There is a time for everything and season for every activity under the heavens.”

The upcoming ministry, called ”Celebrating 20 years of Music Ministry,” will feature what Redenius described as heartfelt hymns and toe-tapping gospel music.

The song list includes ”Blessings,” ”How Great Thou Art,” ”God Bless America,” ”Walking with Jesus,” ”Ezekiel Saw the Wheel,” and ”Christ is Returning,” and others.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
The Sonshine Singers rehearse for their final series of concerts recently at Fort Dodge Senior High.

The group consists of 120 singers and about 12 accompanists.

The group’s assistant director is John Zuerrer. Shelly Bottorff is the pianist, while Janece Valentine and Lisa Flaherty are the assistant pianists.

Other musicians are Dean Davis on percussion, Brian Robison on bass, Steve Kelleher on guitar, Dee Murman on flute, Tim Miller on trumpet, Kathy Yoakam on French horn, Nick Moore and Brent Meyer on trombone, Cari Hepperle on oboe and Tammi, Amanda and Bill Secor on strings.

In addition to area churches, the group has performed at the state Capitol, the Iowa State Fair, the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend and C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in Ames.

The group has released 22 CDs.