Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 18, 2012

NMC reverses plans to hold choral performance

Timing, removal of Muslim prayer call led to cancellation


TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College has reversed plans to hold a performance Nov. 19 of the choral concert that became embroiled in controversy after an Islamic prayer was barred by officials at First Congregational Church from being used the first time it was presented.

The college had called the decision to ban the prayer, part of "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace," "discriminatory" in a statement issued prior to the original Nov. 11 concert, which had been scheduled and was held at the church. The college also said it was backing out as an official supporter of the performance. At the same time, NMC announced plans to hold a special presentation of the concert, including the censored prayer, at Milliken Auditorium Nov. 19.

But Andy Dolan, the college's public relations and marketing executive director, issued a new statement Friday that said NMC has no plans to hold such a performance now due to issues of timing and logistics.

Choral director Jeffrey Cobb said his performers discussed the special presentation during a rehearsal Monday. The group decided they lacked time to get instrumentalists and choir members back together for the show.

"It just became obvious we wouldn't have time to properly prepare," Cobb said.

The controversy surrounding the decision to remove the Muslim prayer call from the performance was a contributing factor, too.

"We didn't want to fan the flames," Cobb said.

The second performance of "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace," is on hold for now. The press release stated that NMC plans to revisit another possible date for the event going forward.

Senior Pastor David Walls previously said he and the church council decided to ban the Islamic Call to Prayers out of sensitivity to their Christian congregants and to veterans who were honored at the event.