Doug and Sharon Gilbert first met the members of All4Hym in the mid 1990s while living in Virginia.
They thought the bluegrass gospel band's vocal and instrumental sound was exceptional. They were also impressed with them as individuals.
Now, with the encouragement of the Gilberts, Spring Hill Baptist Church, where the couple currently are members, will host All4Hym in concert at 6 p.m. Oct. 11.
"We were all members of this small, 100-member church in Front Royal," Doug Gilbert recalled. "At this point, All4Hym was already a success in the area and receiving increased recognition."
The Gilberts were active in their church at the time that Chester and Terri Kreitzer, the core of the band, and their teenage sons became members. Another member of the group, Dan Murphy, also joined the church, along with his family.
"I played the guitar sometimes for the church's youth and teen choirs and helped with special music occasionally," Gilbert said.
He was also running the sound system. That gave him plenty of opportunities to get to know the band's members.
"Chester and Terri were always willing to help any way they could with singing or playing music," he said. "They have always been easy to be around and have always maintained their humility. At this little church, when it came time for the Sunday special music by All4Hym, people would come from other churches, and we were all blessed."
The popularity and success of the six-member group continued over the years.
Chester plays rhythm guitar, provides vocal harmony and shares lead singing with Terri, who is the featured vocalist. Their son Cory plays the mandolin and sings lead and vocal harmony. Aaron Murphy plays lead guitar and Dobro guitar. Dan plays bass and provides vocal harmony. Troy Stangle plays banjo and Dobro guitar.
The group has made five recordings and two DVDs. In 2007, they produced and recorded an eight-week television special for WAZT-TV in Woodstock, Va., called All4Hym and Good Company.
They were No. 3 in Bluegrass Now magazine's Top 5 Reviewers Pick for Best Album of 2005.
The band is versatile. They included several straight bluegrass numbers and other secular fare along with their signature gospel material in their latest album, A New Day Dawning, which was produced by legendary banjoist J.D. Crowe. Last December, a song from that CD, I Can't Say Goodbye, was No. 1 in Bluegrass Now's Fan Top 20 Pick.
The band is working on a new recording and continues to tour.
"We are hoping to play more this year in places where lives and hearts can be blessed and changed," Terri Kreitzer said recently on the group's Web site.
Doug Gilbert thinks his church will be one of those places.
"Last summer, one Sunday going out the door, I slipped a CD by All4Hym into Pastor (Ray) Rouse's hand and asked him to listen to it," he said.
A couple of weeks went by, and then Gilbert received the phone call he'd been hoping for from his pastor. He told Gilbert that he had listened to the CD and was excited about the prospect of having the group visit the church.
But at that time, the group was busy getting ready for its showcase at the yearly International Bluegrass Music Association awards.
"So we were not able to make it happen until this year," Gilbert said. "They were asked again this year to return to the IBMA awards to be showcased, which is a rare honor, but they will be with us on Oct. 11, for our blessing."
The Gilberts may be the group's biggest fans. They are inviting everyone they meet to the concert and hope other churches will want to invite them to perform, as well.
"One thing we can be sure of," Doug Gilbert said. "Whether they're playing in a small Virginia church or on a big St. Louis theater stage, you're going to be entertained and blessed by their music and fellowship."
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IF YOU GO
All4Hym will be in concert at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at Spring Hill Baptist Church, 3140 Mariner Blvd. There is no charge; an offering will be taken. To hear a sound bite or learn more about the group, visit www.all4hym.com. Call the church at (352) 683-5685.