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   SUNDAY: Officially Day 1 of GCoMM.

  There were more happy reunions at the breakfast table
  this morning; after hellos and hugs from Robin Harris
  (of the International Council of Ethnodoxologists),
  Jo-Ann Richards (a Jamaican singer and minister, and
  the only delegate from the Caribbean) and Rob (again),
  we headed off to the nearby Bartley Christian Church for their English-language Sunday service.

Joseph Lee, Bartley Christian Church's assistant Pastor, was also at the last GCoMM. It was at his suggestion that this one came to be held in Singapore, with his church hosting it. Evening sessions take place here; daytime ones at the nearby Singapore Bible College.

After church, a few of us went to the Junction8 shopping mall in nearby Bishan, where we had lunch. Then in the evening, we were back at BCC for the official opening of GCoMM.
An American group called Izi Bongo led worship, which consisted of songs in Arabic, Tamil, Twi, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and English.

I'm here primarily as story-gatherer. I didn't have far to look, thanks to Paul Neeley (another ethnodoxologist, Izi Bongo's percussionist, and the person who first introduced me to GCoMM) introducing me to loads of people on Sunday evening.

I've now got a working list of people to interview, and so far I seem to be handling the jet lag reasonably well. It looks like a good week ahead...

Monday: The day's proceedings started with Kaloob (a music/drama/dance group from the Philippines) leading worship, their troupe of dancers looking really lush and graceful in their flowery costumes.

Best thing for me today was the Ligay (Thai folk drama) presentation staged by the Christian Communications Institute of Payap University in Thailand. They did a dramatised version of the Prodigal Son parable (actually, it was the Prodigal Daughter this time round; apparently the group has more female members than male ones in it). First time I can recall ever being encouraged to boo in church!

John Rajan Nair (a filmmaker and ministry director for a Singapore-based ministry called Wide Angle Productions) did a brilliant presentation titled Movies. Stories. God. Well, at least the bits of it I was conscious for were brilliant. Thankfully, he was very understanding about my jet lag!

Day Two ended with the first of two special evenings with American singer/author Michael Card. I smiled inwardly when Michael kicked things off with an apology. “I apologise for having been a part of this thing we call the Contemporary Christian Music industry,” he said. “We've taken something that was meant to be built round community, and we've 'industrialised' it.” (I kept thinking that all the Brits who are so hell-bent on starting a 'UK Gospel industry' needed to hear that)

When I got home, the guys in the room next door were singing very loudly. So I did what any sane person would do when confronted with noisy neighbours: I waited for them to pause, tapped on the door and walked in (it was ajar) and asked if I could record the next song they sang! Listen here:

The recording session ended up lasting about half an hour. Turns out it was Eric Sarwar (a Pakistani worship pastor Paul had introduced me to on Sunday) and his group, rehearsing songs they'll be performing during the closing ceremony.

They had my room-mate Kevin on guitar and Paul Neeley on percussion. Eric gave me a DVD of his music; he's doing some great work with music in Pakistan, reaching out to the young, as well as to their Muslim neighbours.

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Published 24 July 2010

Yinka Awojobi

Founder, UKG/ group of sites. 

I really didn't want my picture here, but I'm bowing to pressure.

George Luke

Freelance journalist, all-round nice guy.

Has a weird obsession with international gospel music.

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