Music minister returns to lead holiday concert

It’s a gift. That’s how John Sinkevitch thinks of the music he’ll soon share in the spirit of Christmas.

Retired after 22 years as music minister at Everett’s First Baptist Church, Sinkevitch will be back in the downtown church Friday afternoon. In the decorated sanctuary, he’ll direct a chorale of more than 60 voices.

Singers and musicians from other Everett churches — First Presbyterian, Westminster Presbyterian and Central Lutheran — will join in song at a pre-Christmas concert for area seniors. Friday’s event, starting with an organ prelude at 1 p.m., is free.

This is the second year for the free concert presented by the Baptist church’s senior adult ministries. Lyle Gordon, 84, and his wife, Gloria, are this year’s leaders of the group they call SAM.

“We talked about asking for food for Volunteers of America,” Lyle Gordon said. “But we decided, no, let’s just let it be zero obligation — nothing to pay, nothing to bring.”

“It’s a gift to the community,” Sinkevitch said Monday.

Sinkevitch, 77, who lives at the Warm Beach Senior Community near Stanwood, has a long history of giving through music.

For 30 years, from the 1970s until a farewell concert in 2002, Sinkevitch was director of the Everett Gospel Mission Men’s Chorus. That chorus, with more than 100 men, raised as much as $11,000 a year for the mission, which now operates a shelter for men, another shelter for women and children, and a transitional housing facility.

For the most part, singers in the Everett Gospel Mission Men’s Chorus weren’t housed at the shelter, although Sinkevich recalled a few shelter clients who “had musical ability and joined the choir.”

Men from about 35 churches, many denominations, and from as far as Bellingham and Seattle made up the mission men’s chorus. “We came from five counties,” Sinkevitch said. He remembered Harold Anderson, director of the Everett Gospel Mission for seven years, as the spark that brought the chorus to life.

It was Anderson’s idea that a singing group could help support the mission. He needed Sinkevitch, then music minister at the Baptist church, to make that dream come true. “Harold Anderson took me out for coffee. He needed to find a better way to raise funds,” Sinkevitch recalled.

The mission chorus performed six concerts a year, three in spring and three in fall, sticking with time-honored hymns. “We Gather Together” was a favorite. A smaller women’s chorus sometimes joined in the concerts, which were held in churches and at the Everett Civic Auditorium.

Free-will donations, to the tune of thousands of dollars, came as a blessing to the Everett Gospel Mission. Sinkevitch believes it was more than luck that in all his years leading the chorus, he always “had a good supply of baritones and first and second tenors.”

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” he said. “The word is providential.”

With his wife, Jan, Sinkevitch now joins in activities with the First Baptist Church senior adult ministries group. “My wife and I go the first Friday of the month for music and a nice dinner,” he said. They volunteer at the I-5 rest stop at Smokey Point, offering coffee and cookies to weary travelers.

“John is such a special person to so many people,” said Tony Tysseling, a First Baptist senior adult ministries member who recruited many of Friday’s singers. “Many of us here have a great spot in our hearts for him.”

Friday, the seniors group will open church doors so others can join in festive caroling. Invitations have gone out to area retirement homes.

Traditionalists should like the program. It includes “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and other familiar carols. “And we’re all going to sing ‘Jingle Bells,’ ” Sinkevitch said.

I’m not much of a singer, but Sinkevitch and I have one thing in common. His favorite Christmas carol?

“Oh my,” he said, hesitating just a moment before answering: “Adeste Fideles.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Christmas concert

The First Baptist Church of Everett will host a free Christmas concert for seniors on Friday. Music begins at 1 p.m. with an organ prelude followed by the 1:30 p.m. concert. John Sinkevitch will conduct a 60-voice chorale. The program includes caroling, Everett’s First Presbyterian Church Bell Choir, a solo by Steven Torrence and a dramatic reading by Gene Dobson. The First Baptist Church is at 1616 Pacific Ave.

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