“How Great Thou Art” service launches for those who love services with traditional hymns

Pastor Rick Glowacki leads hymn singing at the monthly “How Great Thou Art” service at Columbus First Assembly, 2100 10th St.

The traditional hymns of yesteryear that built much of Betsy Myers’ Christian faith are carrying her forward once again.

“The words are so meaningful and so biblical to me,” said Columbus resident Myers, 82. “Those are the two main things that are the reasons that I still enjoy them.”

Myers is currently among about 30 people who have begun attending the new “How Great Thou Art” service held at 6 p.m. the third Sunday of every month at Columbus First Assembly, 2100 10th St. The service is open to all, and the next service will be May 21.

Songs, with piano accompaniment from keyboardist Ann Mullins, range from the title hymn to “The Old Rugged Cross” and others.

In fact, organizer Pastor Rick Glowacki of Columbus First Assembly purposely chose the later Sunday time slot so people from other churches could attend. He makes it clear that he has no intention of taking visitors from their home churches. Ideally, he would like to see the one-hour service with communion eventually grow to an attendance of maybe 100 people.

Several years ago, when Glowacki arrived here to lead the church, a few older members simply told him “I hope that you don’t forget about us.”

“And they weren’t being disrespectful at all,” Glowacki said.

He indeed has not forgotten.

He estimates that most attendees thus far have been 50 and older, with a few younger people in the mix. Glowacki first tested the idea just before the holidays and determined that there is sufficient interest in such a gathering in south-central Indiana, where the 60-and-older population is by far the dominant age group, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

“This idea has been in the back of my mind all the time,” Glowacki said. “Part of the reason is that we’re not all that good at doing blended worship” (with a mix of contemporary and tradition songs).

He mapped plans very specifically with an older audience in mind.

“I’ve tried my best to be very deliberate about all of this,” Glowacki said. “This is not a hymn sing, but an actual full service with a message tailored to this service. The only thing we’re not including is an offering.”

One example of recently tailored message was focused on the theme “that you are very much still needed in the churches today, and you not yet done,” as the pastor put it. “We as the church need to be multi-generational. I believe that if people still are physically able, they need to still be serving in some way. And I believe that older people still need the church.”

He takes inspiration for his specially crafted messages from seniors themselves.

“It doesn’t necessarily matter what age you are, but I do know that some of our older adults sometimes are dealing with significant physical problems ,” Glowacki said. “And I know they also sometimes deal with loneliness or the idea maybe that they don’t matter.”

Glowacki added that he understands how powerful, nostalgic and moving people’s favorite style of music can be.

“I want to give people a renewed connection to their spirit and their soul because of what they were regularly singing when they were walking through significant spiritual times in their life,” the pastor said. “People can walk out of service like this, and something has changed in their countenance. And that’s because they have connected (to God) again.”