Due to his love of the way Christian music brings people together and touches many lives, Jones sought to start a community cantata.
According to Jones, prior to moving to the area in 1984 he was an active participant in Doddridge County’s community cantata.
“In Doddridge County none of the churches were big enough to do a large music production on their own, so they started a community cantata so all churches could participate,” Jones said, adding that the community cantata included people of all denominations.
Jones described a vision to organize a community cantata in Mason County and said the idea eventually became a reality after he took some friends to see Doddridge County’s cantata.
“I said, ‘Could we do something here,’ and they said we could. Even though I didn’t consider myself capable to lead (the cantata), I was willing,” he said.
This year will be the fifth for the Easter community cantata. Jones also directs the community Christmas cantatas.
While the cantatas take place at Main Street Baptist Church in Point Pleasant, Jones emphasized that the cantata is not a Main Street Baptist production, but a community-wide event welcoming people from various churches and denominations. Christian individuals who are not affiliated with a church also are encouraged to participate.
According to Jones, the cantata is for all ages and not just open to Mason County residents, and in past years people from Meigs, Gallia, Putnam and Jackson counties have participated.
For Jones, being in the presence of God’s work is the most interesting part of directing the community cantatas.
“I have the ability to be amazed at how God will bring people we need to fill certain parts. The 2007 Christmas (cantata) needed two voices, and God provided those voices,” Jones said.
He added that the style of music performed also is interesting.
“The style of music makes a difference. One year we picked a more modern piece and lost a few older people but gained more younger people,” he said.
In fact, it is the contemporary Christian music that Jones chooses for the cantatas. He said the contemporary music attracts a lot of young singers, which he believes makes the cantata strong.
“These young people keep me young, and that contemporary music keeps them attentive. The message of Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, but we can use new methods to reach a new generation, and contemporary Christian music is one way to do it,” he said.
Jones described the message of the cantatas as being his favorite part of directing them.
“Hearing how what we have done (with the cantata) has influenced people’s lives and enhanced their Christmas and Easter experience — knowing that they were blessed to be part of it or hear it (is my favorite part of directing),” he said.
Another aspect of directing the community cantatas that Jones enjoys is getting to work with various singers and help them do things they wouldn’t usually do.
“I like being able to take people out of their comfort zone and allow them to accomplish things they never thought they could do,” he said.
In fact, Jones described one of his fondest memories of directing the cantata as seeing someone sing their first solo and do an amazing job. It’s just one of several memories Jones has taken away from directing the community cantatas, as he said he has made many friends over the years.
Another fond memory for Jones was when the cantata received its first standing ovation. That was important to him because he said they work hard to improve the cantata each year. He even described a goal to one day have to find a bigger location to perform the cantata. According to Jones, Main Street Baptist is where the cantatas are held due to space and lighting, as the cantata not only features singing but is an audiovisual experience.
However, the main goal of the cantata each year is to praise God.
“We are not really trying to reach a goal except to lift up Christ. We always try to do (the cantata) in a more professional way than before,” Jones said.
Jones said everyone can participate in the cantata, even people who cannot read music and don’t consider themselves good singers.
“We can always use people. We would love to keep growing,” he said.
For Jones, who owns Point Financial Services, work on the cantatas must always start early. He said practices begin eight weeks prior to each cantata, with the first practice this year slated to begin at 7 p.m. next Monday. Practices take place for two hours each Monday, with practices also scheduled on Sunday afternoons for the last four weeks leading up to the cantata.
This year’s Easter cantata will take place at 7 p.m. April 4-5 at Main Street Baptist Church. The work, however, starts even before the practices, and Jones said he began looking for music four months early.
“I find music and try to see which piece will be the best match and make sure that the message is in the song and that the scripture is accurate,” he said.
For Jones, feeling God’s message through song is the main reason for the cantatas.
“I have seen spiritual growth in everyone who took part (in the cantatas),” he said.
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