Speak for a few moments with Dave Park, of Kratzerville, and you might think the band “Gospel Bond” has more to do with farming than music.
Unlike other bands, the group doesn’t measure its success in number of albums sold or tickets purchased, but in seeds sown.
“I’ve had people come up after concerts and say a song really got to them — something we sang about touched their heart,” Park said. “I can’t save anyone myself, but through this ministry, we can at least try to plant some seeds.”
The Selinsgrove-based band that embraces Southern Gospel music is scheduled to perform a free concert 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Central PA Wesleyan Campground — formerly the Willow Lake Camp — just west of New Columbia. A chicken barbecue is planned before the concert, starting at 4:30 p.m., with meals available for $8.50 apiece.
The concert kicks off the campground’s annual campmeeting event which is slated to run through July 29.
“We enjoy doing benefits, typically picking out someone from the community who really needs the assistance and then doing what we can to help,” Park said. “Over the past 10 to 12 years, we’ve raised more than $150,000 through various benefit concerts.”
It all began with Conrad Wiens planting seeds of his own 15 years ago. He took two talented 12-year-olds under his wings, offering lessons on the guitar and bass guitar out of his house.
He then taught them some chords and all three started to sing a little while playing. Wiens helped them sing a little harmony, building them up for their next teachable moment.
“God doesn’t give us talent to keep to ourselves,” he told them, “but to share it with others.”
Wiens surprised Abe Hoffman and Jason Yerger, not yet teenagers, telling them that they would be singing in front of an audience — at the Wendt Nursing Home in Richfield.
A decade and a half later, and Gospel Bond has grown in both size and venue. The group has a strong local following and performs approximately 60 concerts a year, despite each of the members having his own fulltime job and family obligations to tend to.
“It takes a lot of money to be a live band,” Park said. “We’re happy to be ‘weekend warriors.’”
The band typically doesn’t play for anything more than a “free will” offering, and every penny received goes directly back into the ministry.
“The Lord will supply the needs,” said Park.
In return, the members of Gospel Bond provide the seeds via their music, hoping the lyrics and melodies inspire the audience.
“We hope they are encouraged — that they are lifted up,” Park said. “We introduce the songs as we go along. We present the gospel the best we can and we let God take it from there.”
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