The family members of six trapped miners, local leaders and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. attended the concert, organized by the Celebration Tabernacle congregation in Portland, Ore. Members of the congregation paid their way to come to the city to sing and help heal the community, said director Don Elliott.

“We’ve been watching this whole thing unfold … and we heard people saying, ‘Where’s God?’ and questioning their faith, which broke our hearts,” Elliott said. “We thought if we came down here, maybe this will say something to them about how the eyes of the nation are on them and supporting them.”

The congregation’s musical director, Robin Gordon, said he felt he was called by God to visit the area that has been reeling since six miners – Kerry Allred, Manuel Sanchez, Louis Hernandez, Carlos Payan, Don Erickson and Brandon Phillips – disappeared in the Crandall Canyon Mine Aug. 6 and three others died trying to rescue them Aug. 16. This week, 170 local miners were laid off.

Children from several choirs join Tuesday in performing at the benefit concert at the Price Peace Garden. The event was organized by a church from Portland, Ore.

“We can’t touch the pain that this whole community is going through, but we want to help with it,” Gordon said.

Elliott said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Apostle Elbert Mondaine, told his congregation to come to Utah and show support through music. Mondaine contacted Price Mayor Joe Piccolo about a week ago, and plans quickly moved forward with the help of the community, Elliott said.

“Our goal is just to come and share in music,” Elliott said. “Our hope is that people’s lives are changed for the better, whatever that means for them.”

Local pastor Lary Sweeten helped bring the event together by coordinating with the Carbon and Emery school districts to recruit students to sing during the evening. At a Monday night rehearsal, Elliott said more than 600 children came to practice, but the threat of rain limited the Tuesday night turnout to about 200 children.

The children sang a song called “O, ye, God alone” that was written specifically for the event by Mondaine. Even with only two rehearsals, Elliott said the children learned the song quickly.


Fifteen candles were placed to remind members of the audience of the six missing miners, three volunteer miners – Dale Black, Gary Jensen and Brandon Kimber – who were killed while trying to rescue the six trapped miners, three volunteers who were critically injured during rescue efforts and three men who were injured during the rescue but have since been released from the hospital.

Residents said the concert is evidence of the community’s growing support for each other.

“My whole family are coal miners,” said Doloris Quintana, who watched the show. “We’re glad it’s not one of our family, but the reality is, we’re all family down here because we’re all miners.”

Amy Choate-Nielsen and Josh Loftin
Deseret Morning News
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007