GULF COVE — When Hope Lutheran Church regular Muriel Kowalsky attended the jazz Mass March 10, she noticed something unusual.
“There were so many unfamiliar faces,” Kowalsky said. “People came from all over. The crowd was so engrossed in it and enjoyed it so much. It was so unique. It’s not something that I’ve seen before.”
The jazz Mass introduced regulars and those from far and wide to a new way to worship.
“It was very uplifting,” said Larry Brady, stewardship chair and member of the church for 12 years. “The tempo was so upbeat.”
The Rev. Wes Runk, church pastor, said the venue was packed to near capacity.
“It’s great to know that we had as many people from outside the community come to this congregation,” Runk said. “There were about 80 (who) came from outside the church, and 47 came from within the church. All but three to four people stayed for the wine and cheese reception afterward.”
The quartet that performed at the event is made from members of the big band group Ingroov, including founder and saxophone player Fred Capitelli, John Johnson on bass, Chris Farnum on drums, and David Mims on piano. The jazz liturgy featured 22 minutes of music, and the quartet was accompanied by nine singers, four from the church.
Capitelli said he was surprised at the turnout.
“We hoped people would come, and it exceeded expectations,” Capitelli said. “The atmosphere was excellent. The people were all upbeat.”
Attendees echoed similar sentiments.
“The sound of a group like this is good in a church setting,” Jerry Thompson said. “It’s fun to sing hymns to a jazz quartet, as supposed to a normal setting with organs. It’s still worshipful and it’s got a bounce to it. During the jazz, we stand up and clap, as opposed to a more traditional workshop experience.” Thompson is a jazz enthusiast and has followed Ingroov for 15 years.
Brady said, after Sunday’s performance, he’ll be making the effort to come to the band’s performances at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County in Port Charlotte.
“During the Sunday night congregation, there was a portion who were acclimated to jazz,” Capitelli said. “There was a group who may not have understood. The people were in sync with the music. Everybody had smiles on their faces. Any misconceptions were washed away, and I think we won over some new fans. Their response was nothing short of positive. I’m sure they’re looking forward to the next one.”
Hope Lutheran is located at 14200 Hopewell Ave. The jazz Masses are at 6:45 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 941-697-2345.