McLouth Church to honor keyboardist for years of sharing his God-given gift
If you've attended a service recently at McLouth Countryside Baptist Church you've probably seen the familiar face of Charlie Bolinger sitting behind the piano playing the old, familiar gospel music.
"I've played the piano for so long I wouldn't know anything different," Bolinger said. "It's just something the Lord gave me to do, so I might as well use it."
Bolinger, who has been tickling the ivories for more than half a century, will be honored for his dedication and service to the church this Saturday as friends and family gather together to honor the 67-year-old pianist.
Bolinger started playing the piano when he took his first music lessons back in 1947. But after only a few years of lessons, Bolinger started picking up songs and playing them by ear to everyone's amazement.
"We found out that the Lord gave him the talent to play the piano," said Bolinger's brother, Jim Bolinger.
Charlie began playing his favorite type of music, gospel, during the services in which his father, Fred Bolinger, would preach. In fact, Charlie's favorite song was one of his father's favorite "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder."
Much has changed for Charlie since those years, including the instruments he played. He's gone from pianos to organs all the way to the electric keyboard the church has provided him. Charlie said he really enjoys the keyboard because he can do many things with just the touch of a couple of buttons.
In 1994 Charlie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the central nervous system.
Charlie's mother also suffered from multiple sclerosis and died from the disease.
Charlie had to quit his job as a mechanic because the disease began to affect his hands.
Even though Charlie is slower than he used to be, his family, especially his brother Jim who sings along with Charlie during services, is happy because, "the Lord has left him the ability to play the piano."
Charlie still plays the piano for church services on Sunday and Wednesdays, and he also plays at a nursing home on Sundays.
At home, Charlie gets to play with his granddaughter, Samantha, who is just tall enough to reach the keys and play with her grandpa.
Countryside Baptist Church's Sunday School is at 10 a.m.; Worship Hour at 11 a.m. and a dinner honoring Charlie will follow.