O SING unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth. - Psalm 96:1
The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir (STGC) is a one bodied, one spirit, Christ centered music ministry that spreads the gospel and edifies Jesus Christ through music. The St. Thomas Gospel Choir was founded in September 1991 under the leadership of Waltier Blocker and the vision of the late Rev. Canon Jesse F. Anderson, Jr. The choir was formed with 8 members that desperately wanted to sing God’s praises and was only supposed to last for a couple of months. However, God’s plan was to have the ministry continue on and to flourish.
STGC was the first Gospel Choir formed in the Episcopal Church and has inspired other Episcopal churches to start their own gospel choirs. The Gospel presence was not welcomed by all of the congregants in 1991, but with Fr. Anderson Jr.’s and Waltier Blocker’s perseverance the choir’s presence became more welcoming and now is anticipated. When Fr. Anderson, Jr. retired, from being the16th Rector, Mr. Blocker continued the vision and with God’s guidance he has elevated the choir’s ministry to greater heights.
Though STGC may have started out as only a “church choir” in 1991; they have become a community choir consisting of singers from 10 different churches. They are a group of 58, spirit filled, energetic, and anointed musical ambassadors of song. In 2003, Rev. Canon Fr. Martini Shaw became the 17th Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church and has fully supported and assisted Mr. Blocker’s vision for the choir. Evangelism is a very important factor in the choir’s ministry and they share their music ministry with thousands of people through services, programs, concerts and celebrations every year.
Some of The Choir’s Ministry Highlights Include The Following:
*Ministering at the Barnes Foundation for their Anniversary Celebration
*Ministering at the Unveiling of the Octavius V. Catto Statue at City Hall in Philadelphia
*Ministering at the Gordon Center in Owings Mills, MD with Frank Entwisle and Orchestra
*STGC are recent winners for the PHL Live Event held in Philadelphia as the 2016 Best in the Philadelphia Area in the Gospel Choir category.
*Memphis, TN June of 2016 for Rhythm of Gospel Awards, won two awards (Traditional CD of the year and Producer of the Year)
*Installation of Bishop Daniel G.P. Gutierrez, the 16th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
*The Washington National Cathedral for the Installation of the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, 1st African American presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church and installation of Katherine Jefferts Schori, the 1st female Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church.
*Ministering at the installation services of Rev. Betsy Ivey, Fr. Angelo Wildgoose and Fr. Isaac Bonney.
*Winning 1st Place at the Northeast Regional competition for Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound: held at Radio City Music Hall in NYC and recipient of the “Hope Line Award” in 2013.
*Ministering at the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses (NCGCC) for their annual Founder Day held in New Orleans, LA
*Ministering at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Constitution Center.
*STGC was featured during the historic moving of the Liberty Bell to its new pavilion.
*The private unveiling of the original Emancipation Proclamation.
*STGC participated in the stage play “The Events” held at the Annenberg Theater.
*Sings on the soundtrack for Lee Daniel’s movie “The Woodsman”
*Sang the English version of “Yes We Made It” for the Russian Kikoriki movie “Team Invincible.
*Was in the mass choir for “Gospel Music in the Park” at the Mann Music Center.
*Sang the national anthem for the “Episcopal Church Night” for the Philadelphia Phillies
STGC was the featured choir for the National Episcopal Youth event, held at Villanova University
*Guest choir for the 40th Anniversary Celebration for the Ordination of Women held at the National Cathedral.
*STGC has been featured on CBS 3 Talk Philly as well as ABC and Chasing News.
The music ministry of STGC has already reached thousands of thirsty souls and continues to reach many more. STGGC released full music compilation CD’s in 2003, “Worship & Praise”, 2006, “The Anointing Makes the Difference”, Glorious Is Thy Name”, 2009 and re-released in 2015 and their 4th “Jesus” released in 2015. A Holiday EP (CD#5) was released December 2017.
The Philly POPS Orchestra, Holiday POPS “2018 Christmas Spectacular” Concerts at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
The St. Thomas Gospel Choir sings on the Second and Fourth Sunday of the month and as part of the Mass Choir for special occasions as requested by the Rector. The St. Thomas Gospel Choir has performed at esteemed religious, arts, and family gatherings across the United States and around the globe, from Costa Rica to The Vatican. Each of their CDs can be purchased at St. Thomas Church or click here for online purchase. For more nformation about the St. Thomas Gospel Choir, their scheduled concerts, to hear the music, or purchase their CDs, please visit their website: the St Thomas Gospel Choir.
Director Waltier Blocker is a very talented man who has introduced many new and inspiring forms of music to both the choir and congregation. He is known for being an accomplished Song Writer, Vocal Coach, Recording Producer, Choral Director and Actor that demands EXCELLENCE. Being ordained a minister at the age of 12, Walt Blocker lives, moves, breathes and proclaims the Word of God in everything he does. His special verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings, 7:30 p.m.
Who may join? Anyone who enjoys the fellowship and discipline of belonging to a choir and wishes to raise their voices in song to praise the Lord.