Spokane’s Gospel Christmas Concert Returns the Garland District
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News Story By Annemaire Frohnhoefer
“It’s not an original idea,” says Michael Bethely, owner of Spokane-based Bethely Entertainment. He’s speaking about the Gospel Christmas Concert being held tonight (Dec. 16), at The Gathering House on Garland and Post in North Spokane.
Bethely said the event that has been held at the location since 2017.
“Prior organizations hosted in the past and we’re carrying it forward,” he explained.
Gospel Christmas concerts are a tradition throughout the United States, as evidenced by the 2019 Gospel Christmas concert held in Washington D.C. at the Washington National Cathedral. For Spokane, a Gospel concert is a bit more intimate. For Bethely, it gets personal. He was raised in the church and says Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, on Post and Indiana, is his home church. It’s a family affair. His mother Yolanda Kinlow-Jones sings at the church and is a prominent local gospel artist known throughout the Spokane region. In 2022, she performed at Gonzaga Prep as part of the Love and Harmony concert in celebration of Black History month. She also performs at her home church, Holy Temple Church of God in Christ.
Betheley’s entertainment company produces concerts and supports Spokane-area singers and performers year round. He chose The Gathering House for the performance because of its open mic nights and intimate setting.
The Gathering House isn’t your typical storefront church. The front of the house is a large coffee shop, home to Pittoti Coffee, with ample room for community events and an elevated stage. The coffee shop will be open prior to the event for attendees in need of some hot beverages.
The concert’s performers are coming from a variety of area churches.
TGH is an Evangelical Covenant church with an emphasis on loving one’s neighbor. TGH might be the newest church on the block (despite its 134-year denomination history as a Swedish mission church) but it’s part of the fabric of the Garland District. Lead pastor Rob Bryceson opens the church’s doors to numerous community events including the Spokane Homeless Coalition’s monthly meetings. Since Holy Temple’s congregation is right down the hill, The Gathering House provides the perfect venue.
A Gathering of Voices and Celebration
Kinlow-Jones was 16 when her father was called to pastor at Holy Temple. She recalls singing duets alongside her sister.
She says, “We had to sing duets before he bought the word.” It’s this type of faith and love that enriches Kinlow-Jones’ musicianship. Her connection to the music is familial and faithful. “I have found over the years that singing brings healing, emotional relief, deliverance and more, and that’s just for me!” She laughs.
For the uninitiated, Kinlow-Jones recommends listening to some contemporary and classic gospel greats like the Winans, the Hawkins sisters, Tasha Cobb Leonard, Hezekiah Walker and many others. And gospel music isn’t just for Christmas. God and music are around all year. Kinlow-Jones finds that gospel bridges the gap between the word and service.
She says, “To me, gospel Christmas music covers it all. Not just the birth of Jesus but we also bring out that He knew His assignment when He came. He knew who I was going to be and He came anyway so that I could have access to eternal life.”
Kinlow-Jones shows great humility with her gifts of song. She’s sharing the stage with friends from various local churches who are being accompanied by Sessionz Smooth Jazz. The ensemble is sharing the gifts of song and spirit.
“When someone says ‘Thank you, I feel so much better now,’ after a song, or were moved to trust God more…I feel like I did what God had me there for at that time,” she explains.
The concert is free but donations are accepted. The music begins at 7 p.m.
Annemarie Frohnhoefer is a writer, editor and ghostwriter based in Spokane. Their work has appeared in High Desert Journal, The Inlander, The Spokesman-Review and other publications across the U.S. They are a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and a baptized Roman Catholic.