Sunset Service Toronto Fellowship
Sunset Service Choir
Sunset Service Choir is a youth led, interfaith and intercultural community choir founded in 2014. The Sunset Service Choir aim has been to showcase the diversity of, deepen connections between, and build greater acceptance for, those groups most marginalized. These groups can include youth, LGBTQ spectrum individuals, African/Caribbean/Black communities and other people of colour, using the mediums of music and performance.
Sunset Service Choir was inspired by James Japheth Bailey, Sunset Service Toronto Fellowships' Music Coordinator since 2013. After assisting in the coordination of an interfaith event held during World Pride, James was struck by the ability of music to shift people’s attitudes and bring groups together through song. James, having grown up in a charismatic church and attending Christian private schools for much of his early life, found his music interests (which were informed by the Black gospel tradition), may be an opportunity at Sunset Service to blend the best of that tradition, with the more inclusive message and objective of the Sunset Service Toronto ministry.
The focus of Sunset Service Choir is to remind people of their connections to one another. Sunset Service Choir aims to do that by showcasing the diversity of, deepening connections between, and building greater acceptance for, those groups most marginalized, through music and performance. To date, the efforts of the choir have been directed towards youth, people of colour, LGBTQ persons and various people of faith.
Faith communities typically serve as a source of strength and resilience for racialized communities and losing that support exacerbates the disenfranchisement experienced by people of colour. Having experienced first-hand the difficulty as a young Black man in coming to terms with his sexuality and reconciling faith, James gathered through his music, that he could inspire in others the belief that all are worthy of love, and becoming their fullest and best selves.
Making a Difference:
Since 2014 Sunset Service Choir has grown to include 10 regular members in addition to the 4 band members, all representing various backgrounds, cultures and faith traditions. The choir’s director James Bailey, was the recipient of a FACTOR grant which went towards the development of an inspirational CD featuring members of the choir. Sunset Service Choir has lent their talents to a number of events and organizations showing their commitment to important social causes. Some of these organizations include the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, African Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario, the AIDS Memorial and Candlelight Vigil, Black Lives Matter - Toronto Chapter, and World Pride.
The main challenge for the Sunset Service Choir has been in being able to expand the choir, as well as broaden its reach and impact. These limitations are due to a lack of funding which has often required the choir and its volunteers to turn down requests to perform where funds have not been available. The choir is led by James Bailey who despite volunteering his time in both composing the choirs’ original music and directing the performances, does so with often little to no financial support.
Vision for the Future:
Our vision is to secure core funding which would allow for the targeted recruitment for, and promotion of the Sunset Service Choir and its vision for community, connection and acceptance to a diversity of youth, increasing the choirs ranks and reach.
Sunset Service Choir has demonstrated its positive impact on the social-spiritual lives of those youth and young adults who participate, as well as to the communities it has served the message of connection, through their music. This has been evidenced by the ongoing requests for Sunset Service Choir at community functions/events and by the consistency of membership growth.
About Sunset Service Toronto Fellowship
Sunset Service Toronto Fellowship is an inclusive, interspiritual, arts-based ministry located in downtown Toronto. Sunset Service welcomes youth and young adults, LGBTQ people, people of colour, and members of marginalized racial and ethnic communities across all faiths to come together for community, celebration and inquiry. Sunset Service strives to create a safe space for the spiritual expression of people most on the margins.