It started with eight students meeting around a piano in their Wheaton dorm. 25 years later, there are more than 70 students in Wheaton's Gospel Choir, bringing powerful worship to the College community, local churches, and ministries across the country.
Though the Choir has evolved over the years, each year God brings passionate students with hearts for worship. They have performed in everything from mustard color robes to bright blue dresses and cummerbunds. They’ve had as few as 15 students and as many as 100, but each year they share the love of Jesus through gospel music and their strong family-like community.
Since its inception in 1986, the vision of Wheaton’s Gospel Choir is to be a “Multi-ethnic community of believers who seek to passionately worship Jesus Christ, ministering through the medium of traditional, urban, and contemporary Gospel music.” Under the direction of Tanya Egler for the last 22 years, this vision has flourished both on Wheaton’s campus, around the country, and even on a few trips abroad. Every student who has been involved will tell you that the Gospel Choir becomes their “family.”
“We really like the family feel, because a lot of students are far from home,” shares Tanya. “So, we like to have that family atmosphere, a safe place to discuss, especially because we are so diverse. We are from different backgrounds, different areas, and different cultures.”
Jim Tablazon ’13 explains, “For the past three years I’ve been able to be a part of a community that pushes one another to greater depths of understanding God’s love, as well as a community that yearns to bring out the talents and strengths of each person.”
This year they celebrate 25 years of God’s faithfulness, hosting a 25th Anniversary Concert on April 28th. Director of Multicultural Development, Rodney Sisco, says “At the end of the concert…I hope for 200 [students and alumni] singing ‘Omnipotent’ together on stage.” The celebration included a banquet after the concert and a gathering of Gospel Choir alumni all weekend.
Through these 25 years the Gospel Choir has influenced worship on Wheaton’s campus through the students who participate and the events at which they perform. Tanya says, “The greatest impact that I believe the Gospel Choir has had on our campus is being a great example of God’s creativity, and showing the worship of different students from all ages, cultures, and backgrounds.”
“The diversity we’ve experienced has been positive. It’s given us a wider world view. Our hearts are open to people who don’t look like us, think like us, act like us, talk like us, or dance like us. We have opportunities to appreciate and not just tolerate, to show the radical love of Jesus Christ in our own way, the way that we were created to do.”
This year also included the release of their third album with many original songs. The album is called “Legacy,” and Tanya explains, “It’s called Legacy because we are passing the legacy on, not just the legacy of the Gospel Choir’s history, but it’s the legacy and heritage that we have in Christ. Passing on the legacy and encouraging each person to leave a legacy through the music is really important.”
And from a student perspective, the legacy remains valuable to them as well. Jim shares, “I’m excited to be a part of the legacy—to be a part of the legacy of the past, and all that the Gospel Choir has come through so far—and to be a part of the legacy to come, as they have many years to come.”