Milt Kelly

Milt Kelly of Fisher will return to direct this year’s Hymn Festival in Gibson City. Kelly will offer short backgrounds or stories about the hymns or their composers. Kelly will also provide accompaniment for three of the hymns.

GIBSON CITY — There are some new twists to the Gibson Area Music Foundation’s annual Hymn Festival, which will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, in the sanctuary of the United Methodist Church of Gibson City.

For the first time, area churches were polled to provide favorite hymns to be sung. Seven churches responded with suggestions, making this year’s theme “Celebrating Church Favorites.” Lyrics will be displayed on a large screen as well as being available in hymnals.

Fifteen hymns will be used, and they will be divided into two groups —”hymns of praise and worship” and “hymns of encouragement.” Examples of hymn selections include “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Victory in Jesus” and “There’s Something About That Name.”

Two accomplished musicians, Kellie Baier of Gibson City and Beverly Hillmer of Fisher, will provide piano accompaniment, including a duet of “He Lives” as the prelude.

In addition to the popular sing-along format, a small choir will present a special arrangement of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” to be presented by a group singing in four-part harmony.

Milt Kelly of Fisher will return to direct this year’s program. Kelly will offer short backgrounds or stories about the hymns or their composers. Kelly will also provide accompaniment for three of the hymns.

Kelly taught 30 years in Fisher schools as director of instrumental and choral music, and he served four terms as Fisher’s mayor. Kelly and his wife, Connie, have three grown sons: Nathan, a professor of political science at the University of Tennessee; Jon, who is principal of Fisher Junior-Senior High School; and Ben, an educational technology coach for Champaign Unit 4 schools.

The church is located at 206 E. Church St., at the corner of Church and Tenth streets. There is elevator access to the sanctuary from the street-level north entrance. Other entrances are available on the west and south sides. Ample free parking is available in lots to the north and east of the church, as well as free on-street parking.

There is no admission charged for the event, but a free-will offering will be taken to support events and scholarships funded by the nonprofit music foundation. Donations may also be made directly to: Gibson Area Music Foundation, P.O. Box 292, Gibson City, IL 60936.