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C.H.R.I.S.T. Choir reunites, honors Hatcher

Susan Hatch, third from right, reminisces with charter members of Asbury C.H.R.I.S.T. Choir during the choir's reunion. Hatcher organized the choir and was honored for directing for 23 years. (CONTRIBUTED)
Susan Hatch, third from right, reminisces with charter members of Asbury C.H.R.I.S.T. Choir during the choir’s reunion. Hatcher organized the choir and was honored for directing for 23 years. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – For its 2015 homecoming concert, the C.H.R.I.S.T. Choir at Asbury United Methodist Church held a reunion to honor Susan Hatcher, founder and choir director for 23 years.

The choir’s name abbreviates “Christ Has Risen In Singing Teens.”

Their 2015 tour led to Niagara Falls with concerts at Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York churches, a Cleveland hospital for homeless veterans, retirement home and Boys & Girls club. The youth worked at three Habitat for Humanity houses, a food bank and soup kitchen.

For its homecoming on June 7, C.H.R.I.S.T. Choir performed “Open Up the Heavens,” a musical featuring an analogous drama comparing God’s plan to cell phone plans.

Founded in 1992, C.H.R.I.S.T. Choir included grades 6-12 with 18 youth. In 1994, 36 members first toured to Orlando, choir parent Mary Lynn Botts said. The largest group, 147 teenagers and 13 chaperones visited Washington D.C. in 2003. The choir now is open to grades 9-12.

Choir alumna Jeanine Sayre spearheaded the reunion in Asbury’s Five Points. “Through the years, over 900 kids have traveled on 21 tours on 40 charter buses for a total of 44,250 miles,” Sayre said. Using converted VHS tapes, Sayre showed clips from tours.

In his tribute to Hatcher, alumnus Jim Willsey said, “Teens were just starting to learn about Christianity — kids dealing with divorce, lost kids, shy kids, lonely kids, some living in shame or pain. You gave everyone a loving, accepting family.”

Susan and Jim Hatcher’s children sang an Irish lullaby, which Susan had sung in the choir’s early years. Will Hatcher recently graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. Steven Hatcher is a junior at Auburn University. In Bob Jones High School’s Class of 2015, Emily Hatcher will attend Mississippi State University.

Many years, Resha Wingo was piano accompanist; Bryan Walker, Jeff Williams, Jim Hawkins and Chris Lund have performed as backup band. For three years, Melissa Campbell was director with Ann Aycock as accompanist. Gail Cooper briefly served as pianist.

Asbury Music Minister Terry Jackson now will direct the choir. Occasionally, Hatcher will assist.

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