Grace Notes minister with music
This story is a condensed version of the original article that appeared in the December 2011 issue of North Dakota LIVING Magazine. You can receive North Dakota LIVING for only $14.50 per year. Subscribe by clicking on the advertisement above.
by Luann Dart
Graced with faith, their angelic voices soar toward the heavens as the six women glorify God with their music ministry, and share prayers to cope with cancer, depression and even death.
The Grace Notes, a women’s singing group, find both solace and solidarity through their music.
Voices of faith
Seven years ago, several Wells County women put farm chores and family aside once a week and started singing as a praise group during worship at the Church of God in Bowdon, explains Anita Schindler.
When one of the women moved, Anita was invited to join. She had been singing with her late husband, Ken, in a music ministry called Praise and Harmony, and was fulfilling bookings by herself after his death.
“You can pray about it,” they told Anita.
“I said, ‘No, no, I’ve been praying that God would open a door for me and here it is, so I don’t have to pray about it,’ ” Anita recalls with a laugh.
Then she asked the group if they would help her fill her bookings, and their ministry suddenly expanded beyond the local church.
As their venues grew, they needed a formal name. Singing about the grace of God, they liked all the connotations of “Grace Notes.”
In music, a grace note is printed much smaller than a regular note, Anita explains.
“A grace note is a little ping; it’s hardly noticed, but it’s there,” she says.
But the Grace Notes are not just a little ping. They are a lively bunch whose deep altos and soaring sopranos bring both tears and cheers from audiences. They enliven their performances with some choreography and a few surprises throughout a concert, Anita adds.
“Anything that we have, our talents and our voices, they’re all from God,” Pam says.
Over the years, the voices have changed, as some members relocate or leave to meet other obligations. Jan Martin was a member until this fall after moving to Bismarck, and Heidi Olson, Anamoose, sang with the Grace Notes for two years. Their greatest loss was when alto Karen Fike died of cancer in 2008.
Singing with the Grace Notes today are soprano Pam Bibelheimer, rural Cathay; soprano Ginny Brockel and her 15-year-old daughter, Jerissa, who sings alto, from rural Hurdsfield; second sopranos Kim Ebel and Laurie Lloyd, both from Fessenden; and alto Anita Schindler from Fessenden. Most are members of Northern Plains Electric Cooperative.
They share a bond forged by both music and misfortune, laughs and tears.
As Grace Notes continues its ministry with performances at the Harvey Mennonite Church Dec. 4 and at the Church of God in Bowdon Dec. 18, the women also continue their comforting bond.
“We laugh a lot and we cry a lot and we pray a lot and we sing a lot,” Anita says.
Luann Dart is a freelance writer and editor who lives near Elgin.