SENSITIVE TO OUR BAPTIST MUSIC MINISTRY ROOTS
You never know where and when you will run in to the rich history of Baptist music ministry. Although current trends have dodged phrases like “music ministry,” and “Minister of Music” preferring “worship leader” and “worship ministry” instead, our heritage has a way of finding us and reminding us of the path that has brought us to where we presently stand.
Last Sunday, following a sweet worship service that I had privilege to lead at Red Bank Baptist Church Chattanooga, I went to lunch with Tennessee Baptist church music icon, Billy Appling. What a rich blessing and reminder of the tall shoulders upon which we Tennessee Baptist musicians (by whatever moniker) stand. It was so invigorating to hear Billy reminisce as he talked about college days, invoking names like Dean Warren Angel, former Oklahoma Singing Churchmen and Churchwomen director, Jim Woodward, and fellow OBU grad and one of my colleagues as fellow state music leader, Bill Green. I cannot adequately describe the joy of hearing Billy’s enthusiasm when describing early days of music ministry. I could not help but reflect on opportunities to visit with other icons like Bill Reynolds. I was encouraged to hear Billy’s appreciation for the state music ministry and his high value placed on participation in the Tennessee Mens Chorale. He seemed genuinely shocked that any Tennessee Baptist music minister would not take full advantage of this ministry. I was conflicted as to whether to “tattle” on guys who seem trapped in the work they have in their immediate contexts, or to share my optimism for the healthy manner in which so many approach their own ministries, even when partitioned from participation with fellow worship music ministers thru TBC ministries. I tried to leave well enough alone, realizing that many younger guys would be totally unaware of this 71 year old giant among Tennessee Baptist music ministers.
Billy and I talked much about his “offspring” in ministry like Scott Andrews, FBC Sevierville, and Lina Bryant, soprano at Forest Hills. His remembrances were appropriately balanced with optimism for future days. He was hopeful regarding choral music in worship, and realistic as to what the future might hold in his own church, Red Bank, as well as other area churches.
I was deeply inspired by a lunchtime with Billy Appling. We spoke of my predecessor, Dr. Julian Suggs, and other music ministers who populated Metro II or Tennessee Baptist Mens Chorale in days gone by. I was reminded what a precious gift fellowhip with colleagues has been for me, and how powerful the potential of those relationships upon anyone who serves in worship music ministry can be. Upon leaving that lunchtime to head back to Franklin, I found myself praying that the Lord would reignite the kind of fire I knew through relationships with people like Billy Appling, with young worship pastors, and stir up reminders of those relationships with fellow baby boomers who are in a position to influence and learn from younger worship music ministers. This is surely the very heart of the vision of past-president for TMC, Richard Dickerson, who helped intitate the AMP (Accountability Ministry Partner) program for Tennessee Baptist worship & music ministry leaders.
Brothers and Sisters, you are tomorrow’s icons of worship music ministry. It is critical that we invest in the young leaders, young musicians of our churches. May we help them to not only be “stars” in church music and worship music presentation, but may we truly lead them to grasp what servanthood is all about. Let us help them to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Let us train them up in the way they should go:
Let it be written that a future generation, a people not yet created, may praise the Lord.