After a week of learning an 11-song program, the Spirit Singers will take the pulpit this weekend to begin their summer tour across the state.
And as their fifth show in three days, The Spirit Singers, a group of 22 youth ages 13-18, will perform locally at 7 p.m. June 23 at Church of the Palms in Okatie.
This is the Spirit Singers' 15th year as a group touring South Carolina, and this year's program is called "Sing to the Lord," which choir dean Judy Suggs calls a "mixture of contemporary and gospel pieces."
The program includes Scripture readings that have a special meaning to some of the members.
When auditions were held during the winter, each auditioner was asked to name his or her favorite Scripture in the Bible and tell why. The Scripture readings for the program are chosen based on those responses.
"They've put their print on the program," Suggs said. "They can find themselves in the worship service."
While on tour, the youth stay with host families from the churches at which they are performing.
"It gives them a chance to witness to the people in their homes as well, and their stories and what they're there for and what their communities are like," Suggs said, adding that many have stayed in touch with host families after their stay.
Shay Long, the pastor at Mill Creek United Methodist Church in Columbia and McLeod United Methodist Church in Eastover, said she has enjoyed watching her daughter, Kaiti, grow as a member of the Spirit Singers for four years.
"She's gained a lot of maturity through it. I could see her grow," Long said. "They're very dedicated to the group and work tremendously hard."
Long sees the impact the Spirit Singers has had on both the audience and the participants.
"It's a way these kids from all over the state can actually spread the word through song, using their talent that God's given them," Long said. "It's witness, every time they sing, to the people in the audience."