Night of praise, thanksgiving set to benefit Van area disaster relief fund

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The Erwins set to preform at 7 p.m. June 25 for “A Night of Family, Faith and Friends,” a free concert celebrating the heart and faith of the city of Van.

The night of May 10, changed the lives of several thousand people in and around the Van community when an EF3 tornado ripped a path of destruction from just south of Van, north almost to Grand Saline.

In the days and weeks that have followed there has been an avalanche of outpouring of support into the Van community. Volunteers have shown up to cut down trees, remove trash and debris, serve meals to those in need, provide supplies including food and financial resources. East Texans have come together to “Stand With Van” in towns from Athens to Paris and Longview to Dallas.

In all of these communities, people have banned together to hold several large-scale events. But to date, nothing has been held in the city of Van. Until now.

At 7 p.m. June 25 some of East Texas’ biggest names in Gospel music will convert the Van High School gymnasium into a state-of-the-art concert venue as The Erwins, East Mountain Bluegrass and John Randolph join forces for “A Night of Family, Faith and Friends,” a free concert celebrating the heart and faith of the city of Van, organizers said.

All of the proceeds donated at the event will go toward the Van Area Disaster Relief Fund that has been established at Austin Bank by Van Community Ministries, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit inter-denominational charity based in Van.

 “Our hopes are to use this night not only as a fundraiser for the Van Area Disaster Relief Fund, but we also want to make this a night of praise and thanksgiving for the community,” John Randolph said. “Many of us have friends in the Van area that have been affected first-hand by this disaster and the reality is that this could have happened to any one of us. This is a night that we can use the medicine of music to help relieve some of the pain and sting from this tragedy, but also celebrate as we look at what God has done and is continuing to do in the lives of everyone that has been touched in some way by this tragedy.”   

The event was born out of a discussion that Randolph and Dennis Erwin were having shortly after the tornado struck the area. While each agreed that something needed to be done, the biggest thing they agreed on was that it needed to be held in Van – not in a surrounding community.

 “When Dennis and I began talking about this, the immediate thing we agreed on was that if at all possible we really wanted to do this in Van,” Randolph said. “There has been a lot of outpouring of support from all around the area but sometimes healing occurs faster when you can find a reason to celebrate right in the middle of the storm – so to speak. That’s why it was important for us to find a way to bring this event to Van; to be a light of hope right in the middle of all this chaos.”

With the help of David McNary, pastor at Pruitt Baptist Church in Van, they were able to secure the use of the Van High School gymnasium with a seating capacity of 1,300 for the event. 

While the event will be free to attend, it will be a ticketed event to ensure that there are enough seats for everyone wishing to be a part of the evening’s festivities.

At this time, tickets will be available at Tractor Supply and Brookshire’s in Canton, Grace Bible Fellowship Church, First Baptist Church and Downhome Café in Canton; The Farmhouse Restaurant, First Baptist Church and Van United Methodist Church, all in Van and The Shed Café in Edom.

Donations will be accepted at the door and a love offering will be received with all proceeds going toward the Van Area Disaster Relief Fund.

For more information on this event, visit the website

For a block or group of tickets, contact either Randolph at 469-995-0455 or Erwin at 214-507-3840.


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