MOUNT UNION - Every year teenagers stand elbow to elbow on the grounds of the Agape Farm near Mount Union in awe of all that is Creation - as in Creation Festival.
Many of those teens sing along to the worship songs wholeheartedly, even secretly imagining they too can be on stage leading the crowd in songs to God.
A trio of siblings from Medford, N.J., the headquarters for Creation Festivals, is going to get that reality as they get their chance on the main stage. Creation begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
From left, Zach Williams, 23, Caleigh Williams, 19, and Shaina Williams, 21, of New Jersey, make up the Christian music trio Evelia. The group will perform Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Creation Festival in Mount Union.
Zach Williams, 23, along with sisters Shaina, 21, and Caleigh, 19, make up Evelia. They will perform at 8:50 a.m. Friday and Saturday morning from the main stage and also 1 p.m. Thursday and 1:55 p.m. Saturday in the worship tent.
The Williams siblings, which are the older part of a family of eight children, have been attending the event every year for as long as they can remember. They attend Come Alive Church in Medford where Creation co-founder, Pastor Harry Thomas, is the senior pastor.
"My earliest memory is being five years old when Creation was at Hershey Park in '96," Shaina recalled.
"I remember being there when I was 3," Caleigh added.
The father of the group members taught them three-part harmony at ages 5, 7 and 9. They were leading praise and worship in their own church services as teenagers.
Creation Festival has always been a part of their lives, the members of Evelia said. As young adults, Shaina and Zach took staff positions with the festival, helping out on the east coast with Creation-sponsored concerts of artists like Chris Tomlin.
It was during a concert by Tomlin that Zach said he knew he wanted to continue to perform praise and worship music.
"I remember this moment where everyone's arms were in the air he was singing 'The Wonderful Cross.' I couldn't speak. I was in tears. To me, to be able to bring people together to have that connection with God together and worship with one voicejust amazing."
The fact that Evelia gets to perform on the same stage as well-known contemporary Christian bands like Newsboys, David Crowder and Tenth Avenue North,
is more than a thrill for the performers. It has left them in awe of the opportunity God has given them.
As staff members at Creation, the group was able to perform a worship set of music at the end of Creation two years ago after most concert-goers had vacated the farm. All that was left was some trash on the ground and Creation staffers cleaning up. They were asked to do Sunday morning worship as background music for those hard at work. Through that experience their style of music was recognized as more than amateur. Creation Festival executives decided this sibling trio could perform for a bigger crowd one day.
"It's so cool to know we will get to be up there," Shaina said of the opportunity, "So many people have come to Creation with us and have said, 'Oh, you'll be up there one day.'"
Evelia is not yet on Christian radio. They record their own music. They write their own songs. They have three additional band members, but the siblings also play the music. Zach plays electric guitar, Shaina is on keys and piano and Caleigh plays the acoustic guitar. They sing about life as they know it at ages 23, 21 and 19. For a long time they were just Zach, Shaina and Caleigh. Then one day earlier this year, Zach discovered the term Evelia online. Some research revealed that it is a Hebrew term meaning "life."
The name was appropriate, Zach said, for more than one reason. "Jesus is about new life to us. Secondly everything we write about is based on our life experiences."
"We are very honest writers," Shaina said.
Some of Evelia's songs are mainstream love songs. However, Shaina points out that the love songs are approached in a way that can be identified by a Christian young adult.
One song, which is available on their three-track EP on itunes is entitled "Away." The EP itself is entitled "Too Much."
"It's about the ache and pain of someone throwing your love away," Shaina, who penned the lyrics based on a break-up she experienced, said.
When the song is performed in mainstream outlets Shaina uses the opportunity to demonstrate what God taught her through this life experience.
"It's like God is saying 'Now you get it. I don't want you to throw my love for you away.' I just can't write a song about life without Him in it some way."
The next chapter of this life for these three New Jersey worship leaders just might change after Creation Festival and thousands of people hear their music for the first time. No matter what happens, they said, they remember they have a true audience of one the Creator Himself.
"Worship is such a personal experience," Caleigh said, "And we're very passionate about that."
More information on Evelia can be found on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/eveliamusic.
Information can be obtained on www.creationfest.com/ with a full listing of performers and events.