About a week ago, our editor, Mike Eads, asked me to find something that would be just a feel-good Easter piece, possibly something churchrelated.
I thought this would be easy, having grown up in Gainesville and being involved with various church groups, but nothing came to mind. I got to thinking maybe that’s because I am too close and I see too much to know what is newsworthy.
I grew up in Gainesville and graduated from Gainesville High School in 2016. My parents, Kevin and Susan, have been active in religious and musical work, from being high school and junior high choir directors for Gainesville ISD to church music leaders at three different churches. I was by their side all that time, and I still am.
I see new pastors come and go while others stay planted and retire at a church. I see how many musicians and organists stay to the point that they don’t get thought about, while there are also many who are music majors from UNT and TWU looking for something they can do while they are in college.
My first idea was that the First UMC and Whaley UMC choirs and ministry leaders were working together for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and that could make a great story … if the choir directors weren’t my parents. Because of that, it feels like I’m not really looking at what is happening in Gainesville as a whole or I’m showing favoritism.
I know about the new and exciting things are happening at other churches, too. First Christian Church and First Presbyterian Church combined choirs Palm Sunday. Valley Creek is trying to get rooted in Gainesville.
Grand Avenue Baptist Church has revitalized itself as The Fold.
First Baptist Church and Temple Baptist Church worked together for their Easter Egg Hunt last week.
So why was so hard for me to find an Easter story?
I still miss exciting things going on in the smaller churches that can’t get the word out. I don’t want to make a story about one church doing something that five other churches are also doing.
Either that or when I do hear about something, it’s two months later and no longer news. New accompanists and musicians often get glossed over in my mind because I just assume the previous just graduated or had to go somewhere new to finish their degree. I see the annual fundraisers and dismiss them as, ‘Oh, well, that happens every year.’ It’s just part of being part of a church.
I think that happens to a lot of people who live in the same place for a while.
I recently interviewed Tetiana Shevchenko, a high school exchange student from Ukraine.
A couple of the things she said stuck with me.
“Here, some people say, ‘Oh, it’s not so big; there’s not much to do,’ but no, there’s so many things to do, like you can even just walk somewhere, you can go to the park to play football or soccer, you can go out to eat somewhere, you have shops, all this stuff.”
Her comment made me recognize how much Gainesville really has going on.
For example, the Medal of Honor program. We are the only city in the United States that hosts that many recipients regularly, and our kids grow up meeting them in school, while many kids graduate high school unaware of the Medal of Honor.
And maybe I’m biased, but we have an incredible fine arts presence but for a small town in Texas. Vantage Point Art Gallery downtown showcases many talented artists in Gainesville, as does Gainesville Area Visual Arts (GAVA). There is no shortage of music, from local bands and singers often being at locations like the Red Fox Lounge and Krootz Brewery, to some of the groups like the Gainesville Swing Orchestra. Summer Sounds starts back soon, and it is astounding how it has grown since the first one over a decade ago.
I have a deep love of theatre, so of course I want to call attention to the fantastic theatre programs in Gainesville. We have not only one, but two amazing community theatre programs: the Butterfield Stage Players and the NCTC theatre program, each with large numbers of supporters.
The way people come together and support each other here is incredible. VISTO is the best known local charity, helping to feed people and get them help regularly, but it is not the only good cause around. There is also Abigail’s Arms, the local women’s and children’s shelter for victims of domestic violence. So few towns of Gainesville’s size have organizations like that, especially with two locations.
I want to hear more about other people and places that make Gainesville so special. Since I began working at the Register, I have received so many comments about how people want to see more local news, but I can’t write about what I don’t know about.
Our contact information is on page 2 of every issue. If you’ve got something, we can usually fit it in the paper, but we have to know about it.
I want to encourage people to think about all the great things here that we take for granted.
Gainesville is an incredible town that does some incredible things.
So how’s that for a feel-good Easter-time story?
Anna Beall is a native of Gainesville and staff writer for the Gainesville Daily Register.