From Bill Shoppell, Jr. – Retiring Director of Chancel and Choral Bell Choirs

Thirty six years ago, in 1982, a woman named Muriel Smith approached me and asked if I would be interested in becoming the choir director at Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church. Since I had not heard of the church, I asked to hear the choir prior to my making a decision. Under the expert leadership of the retiring director, Loren Donley, the choir sang well and I accepted the position.

At one point during my tenure, we seriously discussed expanding the choir loft as there were 45 members in the group! For several years members of the choir sang in the annual Ocean Grove Choir Festival. In 1994 the choir sang in various venues during a tour of England, Scotland and Wales. In 1997 the choir sang again during a European tour of Germany, Austria and Northern Italy. In the course of the liturgical year the choir has not only sung for worship services but has learned and presented major inspirational works such as the Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Saint-Saen’s Christmas Oratorio, Rutter’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah.

During my 35 year tenure at PPPC the bell choir had several different conductors and in 1999 I took over the leadership of that group as well. In addition to the bell choir playing during worship, the group also participated for many years in the annual Toms River Bell Festival.

Although I had not officially become a member of any church since my confirmation in St. John’s German Lutheran Church in Reading, PA, I felt that my church family at PPPC had become such an integral part of my life that I wanted to become an official member. So in 1994 I became an active member of the PPPC congregation as well as its employee.

The Chancel Choir and the Choral Bells have not been simply music work; each and every member past and present became social friends as well as singing friends. One choir member, in particular, became such a close friend, that I married her! On January 3, 2018 Pat and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary.

And then, there’s Sara. We were hired as a team…she to play the organ and I to conduct. I affectionately call her my “church wife”. She has done double duty so often when I have had surgery or become ill and I am so very grateful. As the choir moves forward under new leadership, Sara will be the link that holds the past and the present together.

Finally, to the church leaders, Pastors Chittick, Twigg, Wilton, Lostetter and Chase and especially to the congregation, I extend my thanks for your 35 years of support. Your acknowledgment of the music program, your financial support and your prayers have upheld me and the choirs. I am thankful and blessed.

William R. Shoppell, Jr.