Murphys, Ca — Old-time gospel music, including bluegrass and traditional church hymns, will be the basis for a worship service at Murphys’ oldest protestant church, Sunday January 31. The “Blue Grass Worship” starts at 10 a.m., and will be performed by eight Mother Lode musicians playing fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitars, autoharp, bass and piano. Some of the music is from the 1800s to include gospel tunes by William Bradbury and Fanny Crosby, some from the early 1900s such as “Keep on the Sunny Side” made popular by the Carter Family, and more modern pieces such as “I Hear Them All” recorded by the Old Crow Medicine Show.
The service will be led by Rev. John Randlett, on guitar and vocals, supported by an ensemble including musicians and singers from Mountain Ranch, Sonora and Murphys. Randlett refers to the music as “grass-fed gospel.”
First Congregational Church of Murphys, now part of the United Church of Christ, was formally organized in 1866, and among the founders were members of the Sperry and Perry families who played key roles in the early history of the town, as well as development of Calaveras Big Trees as a major tourist destination. The property originally was used by a small Methodist congregation starting in the 1850s.
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The current sanctuary, at the corner of Church and Algiers Streets one block off Main Street in downtown Murphys, was built more than 100 years ago. The building has served the community and congregations for 150 years, and the church will be celebrating its sesquicentennial later this year. The community has been served by 40 ministers at this location.
Services are open to everyone, consistent with the church’s greeting offered every week: “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”
For questions or directions call the church office at 209-728-3141.