george hancockstefanIn a conversation with a faculty colleague a number of years ago, I asked her what is the most recent contemporary song that she can sing from memory.  That is a good question, she replied.  I have to think about it! What we have found in our discussion is that those of us who are members of the faculty and who often ask people to memorize have ourselves given up on memorizing.

Another colleague who is teaching homiletics (the art of preaching) does not allow his students to use illustrations that are more than one year old. This is not because he does not appreciate the history of the church, but because he found out that it easier for pastors to use illustrations that happened five to fifteen centuries ago, than to find what God is doing in our days, similarly to what He has done in the past.

The Good News at the Gazebo is an invitation to come and listen to old songs and learn some new songs. We have invited some great and gifted musicians to come and perform for the glory of God and the joy of God’s people. This month has five Saturdays and therefore, we have invited five gifted groups to come and sing new songs and old songs. We invited Nancy Scharff who performed already last Saturday and Bridget Larson who will perform tonight. In the next three Saturdays, Shani Johnson will perform on August 17th, Jose Loo will perform on the 24th, and Carl and Laurie Gentry on the 31st.  The Gentrys and Nancy Scharff are well known in our area. Jose Loo has been working for a while in this area, including his work with the Atlantic Highlands Art Council’s Sounds of the Highlands Jr.  Bridget has received a number of musical awards and is returning to the Gazebo for the second time and Shani Johnson is a young performer from Philadelphia who has been performing there for the last two years. For more information on the performers, visit the Central Baptist Church website –

All of these performers have different styles and combine old and new songs.  It is great to see the audience join the performers in singing songs that have become a part of who they are.  The Christian classics and the well-known gospel songs are a healing balm to the soul.  Songs like How Great Thou Art and  ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus become a testimony to the greatness of our God.

At the same time it is so important to listen and learn the new songs.  They are not only inspiration to the composers, but they are a visible demonstration of how God is moving among us and continually giving new songs to His people.

The motto of the Good News at the Gazebo is Free Gospel, Free Music, and Free Food.  The concert series is a celebration of the gospel that is the freely given Good News of what God has done in Jesus Christ for each one of us. It is a celebration of the fact that God’s salvation to us is so often expressed in songs of praise to Him.  It is a celebration because we want to fellowship with one another and one of the many ways to do this is to have some good food together.

Come as often as you can on the Saturdays in August at 7:00 PM.  Learn some new songs and hum along or sing the old songs that have been your traveling companions thus far.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...