Concert Benefits The Red Cross; Approximately 800 Attended Event
"I think lives have been changed here tonight," said the lead singer of The Kingdom Heirs to about 800 people attending a benefit concert for the American Red Cross of Greene County on Thursday night.
Arthur Rice prayed the words during an altar call near the conclusion of the "Forward Air Changing Lives" concert at Greeneville First Baptist Church, headlined by the Southern gospel chart-toppers.
"I hope the songs and words tonight inspired you," he told the large audience.
After the show, Brian Cutshall, chairman of the leadership cabinet of the local Red Cross organization, said, "The name of the concert, 'Changing Lives,' has a double meaning for many people.
"While the Red Cross changes lives by helping people recover from disasters, our gospel music fundraiser also changes lives by reinforcing spiritual relationships."
The American Red Cross of Greene County responds to single-family fires, offering food, shelter and assistance to victims and emergency responders, Cutshall said.
Local volunteers also teach classes in CPR, first aid, lifeguarding, swimming and other areas of health, safety and emergency preparedness, he added.
"We expect to raise about $20,000 tonight," Cutshall said, "and we're proud that the Kingdom Heirs have headlined all five of our Changing Lives shows."
Forward Air Corporation was the evening's lead sponsor, while about 30 other businesses and individuals served as co-sponsors.
Before introducing the group, Cutshall announced that The Kingdom Heirs had just agreed to return for the local Red Cross's next show on March 6, 2014, also at First Baptist Church.
THE KINGDOM HEIRS
The Kingdom Heirs have been the resident gospel group at Dollywood since 1989, and have recorded seven No. 1 singles on the Singing News magazine charts.
At the concert here Thursday night, the group performed several singles, newer original songs and tunes from the traditional "red book" church hymnal.
Rice delivered a powerful solo on "Forever Saved," after which baritone singer Steve French said, "That's my favorite of all the songs the Kingdom Heirs have recorded."
Throughout the show, audience members could be seen bobbing their heads, tapping their toes and clapping to the music.
The traditional hymn "I'll Meet You by the River," from the "red book," drew applause mid-song and was followed by hearty applause and cheers.
The Kingdom Heirs band played an instrumental number after which French noted that the group of musicians had been named "gospel band of the year" five times.
Just prior to the intermission, the song, "We Will Stand Our Ground," drew a standing ovation.
Rice told the audience that he had recently been studying the Old Testament with his youngest son, Caleb, 12.
"We were texting back and forth," Rice said, when he asked the boy what he had learned.
Caleb texted back, "That God loves His people," Rice said.
With tears in his eyes, Rice added, "The message of the Gospel is so simple that even a child gets it."
The Kingdom Heirs performed 20 songs, preceded by a set of about six tunes by local gospel favorites, The Foundations.
The namesake verse for The Foundations is I Corinthians 3:11: "For no other foundation can a man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ," said the event's program book.
The Greeneville-based group opened with "Step into the Water."
"All I can do is trust in Jesus," said singer Melissa Brantley, while introducing another selection.
Members of The Foundations are Brantley, Jacob Justice, Ronnie Thompson and Stephen Thompson.
"We couldn't have asked for a better evening," said Anthony Morrison, a Red Cross communications specialist, who works closely with the local Greene County organization.
"Everybody seemed to have a good time, and we raised funds for important work of the American Red Cross."
Pastor David Greene of First Baptist Church opened and concluded the program with prayer.
Dr. Shelly Shaw chaired the Forward Air Changing Lives Committee.