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St. John’s UCC Richlandtown Cantata Choir celebrates golden anniversary


The St. John’s United Church of Christ in Richlandtown cantata choir members have been lifting their voices to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ for 50 years.

To celebrate the choir’s golden anniversary, three concerts are being held: the first was Dec. 1, and two more are scheduled, at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8.

“I hope I’ve inspired the group to praise God and the wonderful lives we’ve [all] experienced,” said Larry Benner, St. John’s organist and choir director.

Benner founded the St. John’s cantata choir in 1970 after returning from his U.S. Army service time spent overseas during the Vietnam War.

It was during this overseas period that Benner discovered and became involved with cantata singing as an organist.

A cantata is an Italian musical form that dates to the 1600s. It has evolved and is most often associated with sacred music performed during Advent, the time in the Christian calendar prior to celebrating Christ’s birth.

What began with about 20 voices now includes 34 men and women who come to sing, socialize, find a like-minded community and rejoice in the music they adore.

Marjorie Schaffer has been a cantata choir member for 50 years. While currently of Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County, she previously lived in Richland Township.

“I like music, and I like singing with the choir,” Schaffer said.

She said performing in the Christmas cantata “always starts off the holiday season” for her.

Beverly “Bev” Koon of Milford Township has sung in the cantata choir for 48 years, and she most enjoys singing the story narrative of Christ’s birth.

“The choir is very close, and we share a love of this wonderful music. We work very hard. I think it keeps me young,” Koon said.

William Mease of Springfield Township has been a St. John’s cantata choir singer for about 29 years. He said it gives him a service opportunity to use his musical gifts.

“I like praising the Lord with music. The benefit to participating in the cantata choir [provides me] time to express [my] faith and celebrate Christmas,” Mease said.

If you go:


St. John’s United Church of Christ Cantata Choir


4 S. Main St., Richlandtown.


3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8. (Inclement weather date: Dec. 29.) Arrive early, as spaces fill quickly.


Free-will offering taken during the service.

Information: 215-536-5027.