The West Coast Mennonite Men’s Chorus is a group of the people, by the people and for the people. No, there's no politics involved but there are a number of hard-working Americans ready to sing for a good cause Sunday at Laurelglen Bible Church.
This group's approximately 140 singers and instrumentalists come from all walks of life — farmers, dentists, bus drivers, attorneys, truck drivers, teachers and more. Most hail from the San Joaquin Valley, from Bakersfield to Lodi, and the Central Coast, from Paso Robles to Arroyo Grande.
The chorus' first concert in 1978 was presented in the Saroyan Theater in Fresno with approximately 500 men in the chorus. Over the years, the chorus has appeared at many churches including the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California, all the way to churches in Canada, and many in the Central California area.
For more than 40 years, the chorus has continued with the same purpose, to sing God's praises and raise funds for world relief. More than $550,000 has been raised to date for humanitarian efforts.
This year's performances will assist those who lost their homes in last year's devastating wildfires in California, especially in Lake County. Aid is coordinated through the Mennonite Disaster Service, a volunteer network of Anabaptist churches that responds in Christian love to those affected by disasters in the United States and Canada.
After Bakersfield, the chorus will continue to perform in California through the spring, in Fresno, Reedley and Arroyo Grande, then beyond to Fairview, Okla.; Hillsboro, Kan.; and Denver.
Milt Friesen, pastor of worship at North Fresno Church and former chair of the Fresno Pacific University Music Department, will lead the chorus at Sunday's show. It is free to attend but all offerings will go to rebuilding California wildfire victims’ homes.