Three local Christian praise bands and their followers had a festive evening at “An Evening of Inspirational Music Under the Stars II” on the grounds of The Freedom Church on Oak Ridge Road on Saturday, August 5. The concert was a follow-up to the inaugural similarly named event which was held in June of 2016 at the Gazebo in the Jefferson Township Municipal Complex that drew an estimated crowd of 200 people.

Some of the early arrivals getting good seats to enjoy an Even of Inspirational Music.
(Photo: Michael Chirichella)

Two of the bands from last year, Spirit from Milton United Methodist Church and Force For Good from the Freedom Church were joined by The Grace Band from Grace Church on Berkshire Valley Road. The size of last year’s crowd prompted the decision to move the concert to the grounds of The Freedom Church, which offered more space for attendees and more convenient parking.

Under an almost cloudless clear blue sky with a perfect temperature of 72 degrees, the Grace Band took the stage first and treated the audience to a rousing eight-song set which had the crowd whistling, clapping, and singing along. The eight-person ensemble featured some pulse-quickening drum work and had the added touch of violinist Alisa Pendolino to add an element not usually seen in contemporary music. By the end of their set, the audience was revved up and it was commonplace to see people of all ages clapping, dancing, and swaying.

Next up was the appropriately named Spirit, who played nine covers of music frequently heard on local Christian radio station Star 99.1 FM. With a mix of smooth enthusiastic vocals from Diane Bull and Gretchen Wendolowski, plus the all out enthusiasm of “Dancing” Dean Matienzo, whose occasional joyful jumps brought whoops of approval form the crowd, Spirit had the crowd, which by this time had eclipsed that of last year in size and enthusiasm, on their feet singing and swaying.

In between sets, I spoke to Jefferson Township Councilman Bob Birmingham who was pleased with the attendance at least years concert, which was created as a response to the National Day of Prayer held earlier last Spring. Councilman Birmingham was happy to see the concert renewed for this second season and was enjoying the overall atmosphere of the performers, the crowd and the addition of Uncle Bob’s food truck adding, “It’s good to see people from two towns, Jefferson and West Milford, here to have a good time and enjoy the music”.

Before the evening’s final act, Force For Good, took the stage, Pastor Steve Wolosin of The Freedom Church and Force for Good thanked everyone who worked so hard to make the evening such a rousing success in so many areas from promoting the event to logistics to all the arduous behind the scenes work that goes into putting together a technically sound concert event. Although no admission was charged, a free-will offering was passed around with proceeds benefiting the New Hope Food Pantry at Milton United Methodist Church.

Following the offering, Pastor Wolosin invited the crowd to “..sing, dance and just be yourselves,” at which time, the four-person banded launched into a set of 11 largely original compositions featuring guitarist Wayne Scott Farley, culminating with the appearance of the evening’s first three stars in the sky, putting the perfect finishing touches on a fun festive family-friendly evening.


Jordan Durnal – Drums,  Alisa Pendolino – violin, Glenn Nahass – drums, Joseph Kesselring – piano, Pastor Rodney Kesselring – guitar, Susan Tice – vocals, Michelle Elmers – vocals, Abigail Kesselring – bass


Happy Day – Hillsong

Praise Adonai – Hillsong

Come Lord Jesus (Even So Come)  – Chris Tomlin

Sing to the King – Passion Worship Band

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Chris Tomlin

My Heart Is Yours – Kristin Stanfill

Great Are You Lord – Sinach

Good Good Father – Chris Tomlin



Doug Bull – guitar, Russ Jacobs – guitar, Keith Eberle – guitar, Dean Matienzo – bass, Jon Gregory – drums, Keith Eberle – vocals, Diane Bull – vocals, Gretchen Wendolowski – vocals

The band “Spirit” from Milton United Methodist Churh plays.
(Photo: Michael Chirichella)


This is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham

Every Act of Love – Jason Gray

The River – Jordan Feliz

We Believe -Newsboys

10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman

Where You Go I’ll Go – Chris Tomlin

Home – Chris Tomlin

Diamonds – Hawk Nelson

Greater – Mercy Me



Pastor Steve Wolosin – – vocals/guitar/harp,  Wayne Scott Farley – guitar/slide/elec. guitar,  Stevie Wolosin III- drums,  Dave Corsello – bass

The band “Force for Good” from Freedom Church performs.
(Photo: Michael Chirichella)


New Desire

Get It Right

Fresh Start

Oh Lord, You’ve Been So Good

You Can Save The Day

Waiting On You

I’m So Amazed

Be Strong Be Tough

I Want To Be Free

I Will Trust In Thee


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Michael Chirichella has worked in the Sports Information Departments of Marquette University, the University of Dayton and the University of Memphis, where he also served as a staff writer for University's Office of Media Relations. He's also served as an interim sports editor for weekly newspapers in Central and South New Jersey. He can be reached at