10/16/05 — Author Catherine Guess will give concert, sign new book

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Author Catherine Guess will give concert, sign new book

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on October 16, 2005 2:02 AM

Author/composer Catherine Ritch Guess has selected Goldsboro and the neighboring areas of Farmville and Snow Hill for the setting of her latest novel, "'Tis So Sweet," the first of a seven-book series all set in the local area.

"'Tis So Sweet," and the entire Lift Up Mine Eyes Series, is based on the lives of John Glenn Barden and wife, Imo-gene Barrett Barden, who were missionaries to the Belgian Congo in the 1920s - 30s.

"The great thing about this book," Ms. Guess says, "is that Glenn was a member at St. Paul and Imogene came there to work as the Associate to the Pastor just before Glenn sailed for Africa. This book is full of their actual letters and the relationship, love, and devotion to each other and their lives' work that developed through four years of correspondence. Some of the letters are even in their own handwriting, scanned into the book's layout. Through their real words, I feel that I'm now one of the family and the community. This series is truly a source of pride for the community and St. Paul United Methodist Church."

The author, who travels to her settings to see stories firsthand through the characters' eyes, adds, "All seven titles have action in the Goldsboro area, Boone, Lake Junaluska and the Congo.

To celebrate the book's unveiling and premiere, Ms. Guess will be giving a free concert at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Along with Ms. Guess, the organ, piano and vocal concert at St. Paul will feature Rev. Mark Barden, Director of Missions/Outreach for the Western North Carolina Conference of the UMC.

Barden, a grandson of the missionaries, is also characterized in this novel based on reality. Ms. Guess' son, Jamie Purser, will be singing original solos composed by Ms. Guess and Barden as he portrays the young missionary on his way to Africa. Purser has been heard on stages throughout America and frequently appears at the UMC Lake Junaluska Conference Center.

There will be a reception and book-signing to follow the concert. In addition, there will be an exhibit of actual artifacts from the Bardens' time spent on the mission field.

The public is invited. Call the church at 734-2965 for more information.