On Sunday, Jan. 29, song-writer Dan Holmes appeared at the Garden Prairie United Church of Christ, 10990 US Highway 20. “I’ll be playing music and sharing stories,” he said. This was his first visit to the Garden Prairie Church.

Dan Holmes first picked up a guitar when he was 10 years old. He learned to play guitar by listening to James Taylor, Paul Simon, Jim Croce and John Denver records. In 2012, Dan released ‘Something that Matters.’ In 2014, while pre-paring to tour in England, Dan released ‘Have a Little Faith,’ a collection of “living room” recordings. And in 2015, he released ‘A Brand New Day’ which contains a number of songs inspired by his 2014 concert trip to England. ‘Shin-ing Through’ is his newest CD, released in the spring of 2018. Dan also has a “Live” CD available in the spring of 2018.

Dan was high school theater teacher until May of 2016. After 31 years in the classroom, he retired and began working, once again, as a full-time musician! In addition to his two tours of the UK, he has performed at over 150 churches, the Illinois State Fair, the Susan G. Komen Three-Day Walk to Cure Breast Cancer and has written music for the Appalachia Service Project.

Dan’s mission is simple.

“Through the sharing of mu-sic, we can celebrate what God is doing in us, for us and through us. I am an old school singer/songwriter bringing a gentle Christian message of hope. I pray that our paths will cross and we can celebrate together.”

He began with one of the songs he wrote in which he asks, “Let my voice be a voice for peace.”

Then Pastor Dina Lauman welcomed everyone and invited everyone to share lunch afterward. She then turned the microphone back over to Holmes.

Dan Holmes is the son of a Methodist pastor. He was raised in the town of Bishop Hill, Ill. He says the town was about half the size of Garden Prairie (population 325). He sang a song that seemed appropriate, “That Little Country Church,” and continued.

“For a number of summers, I had the privilege of working with the youth group. One summer I took them to camp in the Appalachians. We followed in the footsteps of a pastor there who helped people. He would stop at a house and say, “I noticed that your roof needs a little work. I would like to fix it for you. No charge.” Then he would go on to the next house and tell them, “I noticed that your porch could use some fresh paint. May I paint it for you? No charge.” And so, this pas-tor would go on and on.

“This caught on and over 80,000 students would, at one time or another, go to the Appalachians and help fix homes, making them safe and warm. That summer we saw a place that needed work. Someone had already begun to build an addition on it. However, the addition was supported only by cinder blocks. Not safe. So, we crawled underneath and began to excavate holes to pour concrete and make it safer with solid supports. That night it rained. It poured. When we went back, the holes were filled as if we had not spent the past two sweaty days working.

“I excused myself, went into the woods, and talked with God. I must have looked like a cartoon character, muttering, yelling, throwing my hands in the air, and kicking branches and things. ‘How could you let this happen to us?’ Well, sometimes God will throw a lightning bolt at you, and sometimes he will wrap an arm around your shoulders and talk to you.” He sang a couple more songs.

“I am a member of the Methodist Church in Belvidere. I am rarely there because I am usually doing this in other places. They adopted a light-house as their logo and I did not understand. Here in the middle of a landlocked area, they adopted a symbol that brings shipwrecks to mind. I found out that it wasn’t the lighthouse itself they were interested in – it was the Light.” And he sang “There’s a Light-house.”

“Back when I was a kid, we had one of those big bulky Zenith televisions that you would have to get up t change the channel. At our house, you had to take a pair of pliers to change the channel because the knob was gone. We watched a lot of westerns. When I first heard the story of David and Goliath in Sunday School, I thought it was a shootout. During COVID, I revisited that thought and I wrote ‘The Ballad of Davy the Kid.’”

He sang several more songs and told more stories and finished with a song he wrote in the United Kingdom and first sang at St. James Church in Liverpool.

“They think it is ‘their’ song but it has become popular for weddings, funerals, baptisms and more (May the sun shine down on your road as you walk down your road of faith).”

Holmes will be heading shortly to Bishop Hill to sing at all the places where his father ministered.

“That will be fun,” he said. Then he will leave in April to spend about a month in the United Kingdom to sing there again.

For a full schedule, visit his website at www.danhomesmusic.com.

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