Disclaimer: no last names are used as per the request of the sources.
They raced through the mall.
Their sneakers slapped the cold tiles and their yellow shirts were a blur as they sped through the pretzel-scented air, laughing and yelling as they rushed to the low black stage.
Adults in matching yellow shirts hurried the stragglers into position- the youngest children fidgeting at the front, the teenagers lining behind microphones, shuffling and chatting.
Then the music started with over a hundred voices filling the space, competing with the resulting applause. People lined the balconies and escalators, craning their necks to watch the swaying singers, all smiling.
Over 150 youth singers performed at the Mall of America in Minneapolis on Thursday. Ranging in age from 11 to 19, the Chozen choir traveled to Minnesota from Alsip, a suburb of Chicago, IL, representing their church, The Lighthouse Church of All Nations.
This journey was just a warm up for the choir’s next stop, according to Nicole, a chaperone with the choir.
“We tour everywhere, last year we went to Hawaii, and the year before that we went to Paris, and the year before that they went to Ireland,” Nicole said. “And next year we’re going to Rome.”
All 155 of the singers practice every other week at the church.
“They practice for two and a half hours, depending on what they’re learning,” Nicole said.
The Lighthouse Church is one of the largest multicultural religious facilities in Chicago, with members representing 67 nations. Pastor Dan Willis founded the church when he was 16 years old, and membership has grown from 15 people to 5,000 in that time, according to The Lighthouse Church’s website.
The Chozen youth choir is a piece of their youth ministry and outreach, and their reputation preceded them to Minneapolis, according to Amy, an audience member and a distant relative of Willis.
“I’ve heard they’re very good,” Amy said. “I haven’t seen them before, but I’m excited.”
Another chaperone, Carmell, had spent the day sorting through the choir’s instruments and organizing the singers in preparation for the performance.
“They’re very excited,” Carmell said. “We just sing the word of God, and it lets the world know that there are children that love God and the fellowship.”
To learn more about The Lighthouse Church and the Chozen choir, visit their website at www.thelighthousechurch.org.