FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The Sanctuary and Handbell Choirs of First Wayne Street UMC in Fort Wayne enjoyed a two-week concert tour this summer through Italy and Austria with concerts in some of Europe's famous cathedrals and churches including St. Peter's Basilica in Rome

The choirs are under the direction of Dale Tucker, who also has served as the Northern Indiana Conference organist and pianist for the past two annual sessions. This was Tucker's ninth concert tour and his second with the First Wayne Street church since his arrival in 2002.

The pinnacle of the tour was the choir's honor of being selected to sing mass at St. Peter's Basilica at The Vatican on Saturday, June 16.

Tucker said, "Singing mass in the church where (Western) Christianity had its founding roots, right over the remains of St. Peter brought many in the choir to tears."

Standing before Michelangelo's masterpiece, The Pieta, was another emotionally moving moment for tour members. One full day was reserved for touring all aspects of Vatican City including the Sistine Chapel and culminated with mass at St. Peter's. The choirs also enjoyed a tour of ancient Rome and performed a concert at the historic church of Sant' Alfonso Esquilino.

The choirs performed in Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy as well as in Mattsee, Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. In addition to their "work," they enjoyed special events, dinner shows, the majesty and beauty of the Alps, a cruise on the Danube River, museums and palaces, and sufficient free time to enjoy shopping or their own interests in each city.

But most importantly, says Tucker, "We spread the joy we share in Jesus Christ with others abroad. We met many new friends through our involvement with other church choirs and instrumentalists, and those experiences enrich all our lives."

The Sanctuary and Bell Choirs are two of eleven music ensembles at First Wayne Street.
The tour was arranged through Ambassador Tours of Kalamazoo, Mich. a company which specializes in concert tours for church and school choirs.