Friday Night Lights has provided the spotlight for area residents to come up in front of an audience and share their talents since last January. Now, the community outreach offered by St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hamilton is preparing for another successful year.

“Last year went really, really well,” said church Rector Rev. Brooks Cato. “I really enjoyed all of the variety in it.”

The event returns Friday, Jan. 25 and is free and open to the public.

Held the fourth Friday of each month, Friday Night Lights has regularly welcomed 10-12 participants who sing a song, recite a poem, play an instrument or do whatever they feel like sharing individually or in groups for the first 90 minutes. A special guest local headliner then plays a set.

Those special guests are often performers who don’t really have regular gigs touring around the area, Cato said, so that gives them exposure as well. Anyone interested in being a special guest can contact him for more information. Meanwhile, groups from the community hold fundraising sales, benefiting groups like the Girl Scouts, an animal rehabilitation center and organizers of a dog park.

Cato said performers have ranged in age from eight to their late 80s.

Performers can all feel comfortable in front of the appreciative crowd, he added. There are no hecklers in the audience – only supportive guests sure to applaud each and every act. The majority of the audience stays for the entire evening, to support everyone performing, he said.

This makes the Friday Night Lights inviting even to someone who has never been on a stage before.

“Just about every time someone has commented on how at home they feel there,” he noted.

As a musician himself, Cato knows the importance of what the church is offering in Friday Night Lights.

“This is really for the community – we are looking to provide a place that is part of a vibrant music scene,” he explained. “We had this big space available and wanted it to be used for the community. The church and I are really excited to see where this will go.”

Friday Night Lights returns to the church from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in their Parish Hall. Performers are invited to sign up for a timeslot at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

St. Thomas' Episcopal Church is located at 12 1/2 Madison St. in Hamilton. For more information, call 315-824-1745 or visit: stthomashamilton.org.