Following a tradition of more than 20 years, Shawnee Mission Health, a member of the Adventist Health System, will again offer its free* Celebration of Thanksgiving concert. Scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 22 at 3:30 pm, the event will be held at the Cross Points Church in Shawnee, Kansas and feature Christian pop band The Afters. About a thousand attendees are expected.

Mark Stoddart, SMH administrative director of Spiritual Wellness, said planning for the event began last spring and is a team effort from start to finish. Organizers, production crews, marketing specialists and security guards are among the many who work together to host the event. According to Stoddart, it is one of many ways SMH comes together to give back to the community.

“The concert conveys a tremendous amount of good will,” he said. “It is our way of thanking the community for the opportunity to serve their healthcare needs.”

In keeping with the SMH mission of Improving Health Through Christian Service, the event’s theme is spiritual in nature.

Founded by Josh Havens and Matt Fuqua, who met while working as baristas in a Texas coffee shop, The Afters deliver inspirational music with a positive message. Jordan Mohilowski and Dan Ostebo complete the foursome and serve as songwriters, as well as musicians.

In 2006, the band won the Gospel Music Association Dove Award for New Artist of the Year. Several more nominations followed, and in 2009 The Afters won the Best Rock/Contemporary Album award for Never Going Back to OK.

The recent album, Life is Beautiful, was inspired by the band members’ own life events that were unexpected and unwanted. Havens said while spending time in a hospital ICU with his son, he encountered other families going through much more. That experience resulted in “Waiting for an Answer,” a song that encourages faith in times of difficulty.

“I prayed that God would turn my trials into testimony,” he said, adding that he was inspired by the faith of those around him. “One friend said something I will never forget: ‘The thing that challenged my faith the most in the short term is what strengthened my faith the most in the long term.’”

Propelled by his experience, and in collaboration with his bandmates, the roster of songs was developed. By drawing from their personal stories and infusing biblical references from the books of James and Job, Havens said the men were able to achieve their goal of providing a message that was strong, upbeat and positive. The title track was featured in the 2012 film October Baby.

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of OUTLOOK. It was written by Marcia McFarlane, freelance writer for Shawnee Mission Health.

*Although admission is free, tickets are required. For ticket information, visit Donations to Harvesters, a local food pantry, are encouraged but not required.