All posts in “Worship”

Patriotic Celebration marks 50th milestone

Our annual Patriotic Celebration received more buzz than ever this year as we celebrated 50 years of honoring our military heroes and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ.

To help recognize the big milestone, we invited all former choir and orchestra directors back for the celebration. We’ve had six directors in total during that time:

  • Bruce Erickson (1970-1983)
  • Otis Skillings (1984-1989)
  • Doug Thiesen (1990-1998)
  • Renee Cooper (1999 to 2001)
  • Kristyn Thor (2002)
  • Eric Walker (2003-2007)
  • Renee Cooper (2008 to present)

Renee Cooper, who serves as our classic worship director, was our director again this year and is the longest-serving director in the group. Bruce Erickson, our first director, attended this year’s festivities, and a few others were unable to attend but did send us videos sharing wonderful memories of the event.

According to Bruce, Patriotic Celebration started in 1970 as a way to bring together a divided country/community during the Vietnam War. It was a positive offering and initially took place at the Sinnissippi Park Music Shell – sometimes after the Fourth of July and sometimes in June. The celebration began with one night, was eventually expanded to three nights, and then scheduled for two nights once it moved to the current First Free Rockford main campus.

In addition to special outreach for past directors, we also invited all former choir and orchestra participants to celebrate with us this year. We had people join us from many states, including Texas, Florida, Michigan and South Carolina. More than 200 volunteers total helped organize and participated in the event, and over 2,100 people attended the celebration performances.

The color guards from the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department and the Rockford Police Department presented the colors both nights, and our procession of veterans was once again a highlight for the crowd. A freewill offering collected during the program are being divided between three local veterans’ nonprofits: The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

Contemporary Worship

We Bring Our Highest Praise

Something that has really sunk deep into my heart lately is the concept of us bringing God our highest praise. What that means to me is that no matter what I may feel or get out of it, I’m to give God my everything. This is because of how incredibly worthy and deserving our God is.   As human’s, we are very feeling driven. We desire to receive and to “feel the Spirit” as we worship God. That is a wonderful thing but I believe there is a danger when that is the driving force behind why we worship. Regardless of what we feel, we should humbly come before the King of Kings with a great offering of praise and worship on our lips. David sums it up so well in Psalm 145:3, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.”  When we come before the Lord, let our hearts declare His glory. Let us not come with the attitude of selfishness, but with a posture of thankfulness, gratitude, praise and surrender. When we worship collectively and individually, let our anthem resound as it is so eloquently written in Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.”  What I have come to find is that when I personally enter into worship and take this attitude with expectancy in my heart, God hears my cry. When we are willing to chase Him with reckless abandon, He will pick us up. He hears our prayers. He will not fail. He never does. With that in mind, let’s not be so concerned about what we are feeling when we worship. Let’s lift and turn our hands outward as a sign of surrender to Jesus Christ, the only one who can save us. The only one who is worthy and who deserves our highest praise. 

Savior King
By Nathan Fry

Let our hearts declare Your glory
Let our praise reach to Your throne
Here and now we have but one purpose
To lift the name of Jesus, our Savior King 

All praise to You who saved us
We cry to You, be lifted high
You alone have set us free
Savior King, oh Savior King

Our voices rise before Your presence
Declaring holy is Your name
Your kingdom here as is in heaven
We lift the name of Jesus, our Savior King

All praise to You who saved us
We cry to You, be lifted high
You alone have set us free
Savior King, oh Savior King

All the earth will know Your power
You reach the farthest heart
Oh, Savior our defender
Our strength is in Your arms
Oh, Jesus have Your kingdom
Oh, undefeated God
We stretch our arms toward heaven
Be praised Oh Matchless One

All praise to You who saved us
We cry to You, be lifted high
You alone have set us free
Savior King, oh Savior King