WINDHAM — In its past six seasons, Music with a Mission has raised $62,000 for North Windham Union Church and local nonprofit groups by bringing the community together to celebrate local musicians.

Now beginning its seventh season, the group is looking forward to another year of “inviting others from the community to come into our church to enjoy the music. The primary objective is just to get folks to come together,” said committee chairman Jim McBride.

McBride got the idea for the group when a college choir performed at the church in 2012.

“The church filled up, there was such great energy, and people loved hearing young people perform, and I think that’s when it just clicked. We felt the energy. We thought, why don’t we keep this going and celebrate local talent?” he said.

McBride has been active in the church community for decades, and he worked to form a committee for Music with a Mission, many of whom are also members of the church’s music committee.

The 10-person committee meets once a month and hosts eight or nine concerts a year at the church.

Committee member Rick Nickerson, director of choral activities at Windham High School, said the group will often reach out to local performers.

“We try to keep things local. People will always make suggestions of groups that they have heard. We have certain performances that we do every year,” he said.

The group has hosted 60 concerts thus far, featuring 42 different performers.

Music with a Mission not only supports local performers, it also supports local nonprofit organizations.

The performers choose a local nonprofit, usually one that helps people in need. Some favorites are Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors and the Windham Raymond Backpack Program. Funds garnered from ticket and refreshment sales are divided among performers, the selected nonprofit and the church.

Nickerson said one issue the group struggles with is encouraging people to attend events at the church.

“It sometimes can be a challenge to get people out. Some people are just apprehensive about coming to a church. We’re just offering concerts,” he said.

McBride added, “People, especially younger people, don’t tend to come as much. It tends to be an older crowd. We’d love to get younger people and younger families to come in. But because it’s hosted by the church, we don’t sell alcohol, for example. We kind of compete with places that do that. We can’t serve all of their needs.”

Still, the committee is proud of its work and its successes.

“We’re certainly very proud of the program. It’s been widely recognized in the community. We have a lot of regulars that don’t attend our church but love to come to the concerts,” McBride said.

“When we started, we never dreamed we’d be in our seventh season and going strong,” Nickerson said.

Music with a Mission’s next concert features Travis James Humphrey, who will perform original music and country, folk and honty-tonk favorites. The concert will take place Saturday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the North Windham Union Church at 723 Roosevelt Trail. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students. They can be purchased at the door or at The concert will benefit the Windham Raymond Backpack Program.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected]

Music with a Mission hosted The Collins Band on March 2 to kick off its seventh season. The band includes Paul Riechmann, left, Crista Koerber, Dave Collins and Rudy Gabrielson.

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