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PREVIEW: Willmar Assembly of God to host 51st annual night of music

The story is a familiar one: an egocentric man learns empathy by viewing the world through the needful eyes of another. But Keith Kerstetter wants you to look closer. "We want people to leave with a message of hope," Kerstetter, the lead pastor o...

Song
Aubrey Schueler performs the number “I Had a Dream” during a rehearsal Tuesday ahead of Willmar Assembly of God’s 51st annual night of music. The event will begin Friday at the church and will feature dozens of members of the congregation. RAND MIDDLETON

The story is a familiar one: an egocentric man learns empathy by viewing the world through the needful eyes of another.

But Keith Kerstetter wants you to look closer.

“We want people to leave with a message of hope,” Kerstetter, the lead pastor of Willmar Assembly of God, said during a recent interview on the redemptive narrative at the core of his church’s annual night of music celebration.

This year’s musical is adapted from the book “A Time For Christmas” by Paul McCusker and marks the 51st rendering of the night of music event.

It tells the story of Bill, stubborn and narcissistic, with little regard for the holidays.

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When a mysterious stranger Bartholomew enters the frame, Bill is taken on a journey through history and into the world of those less fortunate: the children of an orphanage, a divorced mother whose daughter pines for her father’s endearment.

The final act is a peremptory call for Bill to reappraise his own hard-heartedness.

“We hope it gives people something to think about,” Kerstetter said. “Everyday, we pass by people with no idea of their sea of loneliness or pain or confusion or fear. Or we think we’re the only one’s feeling that way, and we don’t want to let anyone else see that. So the moral is simple: when you open you your heart to Christ, you open your heart to life.”

The musical will feature performances of more than 60 parishioners and will be held today, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Previous musicals have drawn thousands of people to the church, according to Mark Djerf, fine arts pastor at Willmar Assembly of God.

“We would expect between 4,000 and 5,000 people over the show’s seven performances,” Kerstetter added.

The musical is free but tickets are required.

A community offering will be passed around, and all proceeds will be donated to Hope Pregnancy Center, which serves women and couples in Willmar and west central Minnesota who are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.

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Since 2002, the church has raised nearly $250,000 through these offerings, with those funds donated to an individual organization each year that serves the regional community: The Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, Safe Avenues women’s shelter are among them.

The night of music is also open to those of all denominations, and Kerstetter said some 80 percent of those in attendance in years past are members of other congregations or are non-denominational.

Willmar Assembly of God is located at 3821 Abbott Dr. S.W., just south of the city limits.

Tickets for the annual night of music are available online at www.willmarag.org or by calling the main office at the church at 320-235-2529, and at the following locations: Good News Bookstore in Skylark Center, Dunn Bros. Coffee, Walt’s and North American State Bank.

Related Topics: FAITHCHRISTMAS
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