San Angelo church group to minister at FUMC service

Miracle on 18th Street, a six-member musical group from Wesley United Methodist Church in San Angelo, will be performing this Sunday, July 15, at the First United Methodist Church in Brady. The group performs contemporary gospel, ‘TexMex’ gospel and traditional black gospel music every Saturday evening at its home church in San Angelo. When the group is not performing at Wesley, it sings in churches at nearby towns. ‘We do praise songs and hymns to relate to all groups and denominations,’ said group co- founder Leticia Holguin Perez. Audience members, who can include politicians and homeless people, are welcome to join the group on stage to sing or play their own instrument’or use one provided by the group. ‘No one is turned away here,’ said co-founder Ralph Thompson. ‘No matter how bad or good of a singer you are’everyone can put in.’ After the band’s show at Wesley on Saturday evenings, everyone is welcomed into the kitchen for a free meal. There, every stranger quickly becomes a friend, and every friend becomes part of the family. ‘We don’t exclude people because of the way they look or smell,’ Thompson said. ‘And that’s why people come here.’ The band’s show can bring in eight to 100 people, from infants to 80-year-olds. ‘We’ve been blessed,’ Holguin Perez said. ‘We’re like an outreach ministry. We’re reaching out to people.’ Thompson plays the keyboard for the group and is the only musician who is a member of Wesley UMC. Holguin Perez, a member of the Leti Perez Ministries, is the band’s lead vocalist and the Wesley church nurse. She said the idea to form a band began with her and Thompson’s work at the church’s soup kitchen. Performing for the people there began as a pastime. The positive reaction to the music there made them want to expand their band and time performing to reach out to more people. The band’s growth also has been a plus for the church. ‘This is just what we needed,’ said Mike Bell, Wesley pastor. ‘Their music is reflective of what the church is supposed to be like’it’s for everyone.’ The group plays different songs for every show, and audience members can sing along by reading the words projected on a screen behind the band. Every Saturday, there’s always at least one person who will join the group on stage. ‘That’s what this is all about,’ Thompson said. ‘That means that people are comfortable enough in this environment to come up and perform with us.’ “Miracle on 18th Street is now two and one- half years old,” said Thompson. “It was born out of a desire to more fully integrate those who come to the church’s soup kitchen into the body of Christ. We wanted to do more than serve food and give away clothing’we wanted to make disciples for Jesus Christ! Special from Connie Torres’San Angelo Standard-Times.

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