For almost 100 years, community members have connected to hear the harmony of gospel. That tradition will continue on Saturday.
The 99th Annual Sampson County Gospel Sing is scheduled for 5 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Clinton Family Worship Center, 103 Raiford St., Clinton. There is no charge for admission and it’s open to the public. Free-will donations will be accepted at the event.
The singers scheduled to appear include The Viewmasters Quartet, His Voice Quartet, Cross Anchored Quartet, Rapture Road Quartet, Masters Call Quartet and The Marksmen Quartet. The performance is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. and will conclude with a prayer. Visitors will have the opportunity to get door prizes.
Deborah Owen, Sampson County Gospel Sing secretary/treasurer, is looking forward to the event.
“People don’t get paid to sing, it’s for the glory of God,” Owen said. “All of the singers involved enjoy singing.”
Under the leadership of individuals such as President Peyton Lee, Vice President Craig Page and other board members, the event continues with assistance from sponsors. Roger Wells serves as the chaplain. Her husband, Millard Owen III, serves as a director of the board.
“We do a lot of things to keep it going,” Owen said. “We make decisions based on trying to make it a good sing.”
Owen said it’s a well-attended event, which includes work throughout the year. It began in 1915 when the late W.F. Sessoms invited several choirs to sing at the Baptist Church in Clinton. The following year, the Methodist Church accepted an invitation and it continued to grow. The third was held at the Sampson County Courthouse. At that time, it was known around town as the “Sampson County Courthouse Sing,” until Sessoms died in 1950. Ten years later, it was called “The W.F. Sessoms Memorial Sing” in his honor.
To accommodate large crowds, it was held in several locations. Some of them included the courthouse, Clinton High School, Roseboro’s Fellowship Tabernacle, the Roseboro-Salemburg gymnasium and the North Carolina Justice Academy campus, where it remained until 2002.
“We enjoy the fellowship of the people who come and seeing our friends and other singers who helped us over the years,” Owen said. “Some people come back to sing at the same time every year. There are people who come to the sing who have not missed many years. That’s pretty incredible. They can go back to the time when it was held in the Tabernacle in Roseboro.”
Organizers made a decision to schedule it on the fourth Saturday in September and move it back to Clinton, where it all started. Sings were held at the Agri-Exposition Center. The upcoming one is at the Family Worship Center. Owen showed appreciation to the center for hosting the event.
“That’s one of the few churches in our area that will accommodate people that participate,” Owen said about the size of the audience.
Next year, the organization will celebrate 100 years. So far, official plans have not been set, but board members are looking forward it.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do for the 100th year, but it’s going to be interesting,” Owen said about the centennial celebration.
Saturday’s program also includes a memorial service and the Sampson County Gospel Music Hall of Fame Awards. Winners will be announced Saturday.
For more information, contact Robin Owen at 910-742-8023 or Peyton Lee at 910-567-6888.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.