Concerts are held every Sunday from 7:30-8:45 p.m. at the Grand Haven Waterfront Stadium.
The tradition began in 1947 as Vacationland Hymnsing in which a song leader would sing hymns, followed by a local musician performing a few songs and a pastor giving a 10-minute devotion.
“At the time, it was a wonderful thing. People came from all over Grand Rapids,” Manting said. “They had it late enough in the evening that people could go to church and still come over here, and it was a really popular thing.”
Manting said the original organization of the event didn’t flow, so they decided to update it and rename it Worship on the Waterfront. The change came more than 10 years ago to follow the evolution of Christian music.
“We try to kind of hit things that still are okay for our older crowd — not real loud or rock-ish that would turn them off,” Manting said. “But also we’ll attract younger people because we realize the hymn singing concept was dying out. And not that singing was dying out, but just strictly singing just the hymns was dying out, to some extent.”
Andrews is one of several new acts this year, which include: Stefanick, a husband and wife duo with rhythmic guitar sounds and rich alto vocals; Rick Hopkins, a vocalist, songwriter and worship leader from Ada Bible Church; and Praise-apella, a group that harmonizes their a cappella music. Jimmy Needham, who plans to release two new albums soon; Phil Stacey, a 2007 American Idol finalist; and Grant Norsworthy, a Dove Award-winning artist, were all new last year and will be returning to the lineup this summer.
Manting said WOW is also bringing back three crowd favorites: Voices for Praise, a men’s trio headed by Mark Welling; Chris Hansen and the Down Home Horns and Choir will lead a Gaither-style homecoming sing-a-long; and Peder Eide.
The $45,000 worship series is run completely by volunteers. Organizers hold fundraising events and have a free will offering at the concerts, which are free to the public.
“Ultimately our goal would be that they would come to know Jesus Christ through the testimonies and the songs that they would have an encounter with Him — that’s our ultimate goal,” Manting said. “But we also want to provide free entertainment for families. … It’s in such a perfect venue for this because it’s outdoors, and it’s just a really wonderful spot to be.”
Complete Summer Schedule:
June 26: Meredith Andrews
July 3: Jimmy Needham
July 10: Stefanick
July 17: Voices for Praise
July 24: Rick Hopkins
July 31: Phil Stacey
Aug. 7: Gaither-style Home Coming sing-a-long (with Down Home Horns & Choir)
Aug. 14: Praise-Apella
Aug. 21: Grant Norsworthy
Aug. 28: Peder Eide