ALTON – The Encounter youth choir is preparing for its 47th season in 2019 and is looking for high school students from the Riverbend area to join the ministry. An Encounter Mixer is coming up from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Main Street United Methodist Church in Alton where new and returning students can learn about the group, listen to some of the musical, play games, meet adult leaders and share a meal. Doors open at 4 p.m., the event begins at 4:30 p.m.

Encounter is a Christian ministry based at Main Street and is open to any current high school student. Last season, there were 85 students from seven area high schools and 30 local churches in the group. Encounter is dedicated to sharing the Gospel through the ministries of music, service, fellowship and participation in the life of the church. The group rehearses every Sunday and will also have a weekend retreat in early March. This year, Encounter will present the musical “The Great I Am” in more than a dozen worship services starting Easter Sunday through early August. The group will also go on a “tour” in late July outside the Riverbend area.

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Choir director Eddie Hitchcock says, I can’t wait for this new Encounter year to start. Anyone willing to sing is welcome to join Encounter. We’re using our voices to share a story and through Christ, nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

Head Sponsor Devon Neal adds, “To me, the powerful thing that Encounter offers is a welcoming environment for all students regardless of what their background is in church or their family life. The labels that society so easily place on all of us are stripped away and they're surrounded by people that love them, encourage them, and who want to help them come to know Christ who loves them unconditionally. It's a powerful Ministry! It's a lot of work but our retreat at the beginning of our season and tour at the end of the season combine so much fun that it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Students who are interested in joining Encounter should return at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, with their parents or guardians, to officially register and attend the first rehearsal later that evening. To learn more about Encounter, or the upcoming mixer, and to begin the pre-registration process, go to www.encounteryouthchoir.org or call Main Street at 462-2495. You can also follow Encounter Youth Choir on Facebook and Instagram.

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