Wilsonville honors God and country

What began as a church choir show 14 years ago has grown into an annual communitywide event for a southern Shelby County town.

Hundreds of Wilsonville residents gathered in front of Wilsonville Town Hall June 27 to celebrate their faith, their country and their community during the town’s 14th God and Country Celebration.

The event featured free food, children’s games, musical performances by local churches and residents and the unveiling of a new historical marker in the town’s cemetery.

“It originally started when all of the local churches wanted to get together and do a big choir show,” Wilsonville Mayor Rosemary Liveoak said, noting the celebration is always held the Sunday before Independence Day. “Now, you can see how much it has grown since then.”

Even though the God and Country Celebration draws more and more people each year, it has not lost its faith-based roots. During the event, Wilsonville residents gather around the town’s gazebo off Main Street and listen to singers, pastors and representatives from each of the town’s churches.

Because the celebration is sandwiched between Liberty Day and Independence Day, it also features a heavy display of patriotism, including an annual fireworks display.

“We have just seen this event grow each year. We always have a lot of folks come out and have a good time with us,” said Steve Thomas, pastor of the Wilsonville Baptist Church. “For those of us on the church side, we enjoy presenting the gospel out here every year.”

The event’s faith-based and patriotic themes always combine to create an atmosphere different from many other Independence Day celebrations, Thomas said.

“Being a Christian, it helps us to be very thankful for what we have here in America,” Thomas said as hundreds of Wilsonville residents mingled, laughed and chatted with their neighbors. “We have freedoms in this country to do things many other parts of the world don’t.

“A lot of people in the world face oppression, and they aren’t able to enjoy all of the freedoms we have here,” Thomas added. “This is just an opportunity for us to gather together as a community and lift up the name of Jesus.”

Because the event involves the city’s government, several civic clubs, service organizations and many local churches and volunteers, it takes a communitywide effort to put on the event each year, Liveoak said.

“Everyone in the community takes part. It really takes the whole town coming together to put this on each year,” Liveoak said. “And everyone always seems to have a good time.

“It’s just a time each year when we can all get together to show our support for God, our community and our country.”