Music is ‘more than a performance’ for Evangel’s traveling worship groups
June 28, 2013 | Ian Richardson
If you attend an Assemblies of God church camp or youth rally this summer, chances are good that you’ll see one of Evangel University’s traveling music groups leading worship.
Stained Glass Story, 57.7 and HeartSong – the latter two formerly of Central Bible College – are all traveling groups that provide professional recording and ministry experience for students. As Evangel prepares to launch the new consolidated university in August, these student groups are also playing a key role in promoting and recruiting for Evangel.
While HeartSong has wrapped up its May tour, Stained Glass Story and 57.7 have plenty of traveling yet to do. Both groups will end their tours at the Assemblies of God General Council and National Fine Arts Festival in Orlando in August.
Bonnie Jenkins, who directs both 57.7 and HeartSong says that while the promotional role of the groups is important, what the students enjoy most about the trips is ministering to other young people. “The music is more than just a performance,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to lead others in heartfelt worship.”
The band is playing at venues throughout the Midwest and Southeast, including Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi, concluding the trip in Orlando, where it will join Stained Glass Story to represent Evangel at General Council.
“57.7 loves to lead worship for teens,” Jenkins says. “They tell of miracles that happen and particularly how God gives these young lives direction for their future.”
Senior singer Cody McKee says one of the greatest things about traveling with the team is the relationships the group members form with each other.
“When you travel with seven guys for 2 and a half months, you get the opportunity to know them on a more personal level,” he says. “You build friendships that can last a lifetime.”
This tour comes close on the heels of the April release of 57.7’s new album, He Has Overcome, which can be ordered from the Evangel Music Department office and will soon be available on iTunes.
57.7 will have the opportunity to open for Big Daddy Weave on July 3.
Stained Glass Story
“One of the best things about playing for camps is being able to interact with all the students and see them grow in their walk with Christ,” says junior bassist Nick Bearden.
The group, which is under the direction of Jason Salazar, released the album Turn Your Eyes earlier this year. This is their second album, and the members are currently working on writing music for a third. The album can be ordered from the Evangel Music Department office or found on iTunes or Amazon.
Salazar says the group is especially looking forward to their appearance at General Council in August. “Stained Glass Story will be participating in the final service, the Fine Arts Festival (FAF) Celebration Service, as the centerpiece band for the 50th anniversary FAF choir and orchestra. This is a great honor for our students.”
HeartSong, a worship group of 21 members (12 singers and nine instrumentalists), toured the Midwest and Northeast during the month of May. They performed at Christian high schools, Teen Challenge centers, youth rallies and church services.
“I hear the students say over and over again that their favorite part of tour is being able to pray with people at the altar,” she says. “Many people were healed, marriages were restored and lives were changed.”
Along with the altar times, Jenkins says one of the most memorable moments on the tour was ministering at the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City. She says the place was packed, and the group had the opportunity to meet and talk with Carol Cymbala, the director of the Grammy-award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
“It was an incredible night,” Jenkins says. “God’s presence was so strong in that place.”
Along with playing music, the group had the opportunity to do a little sightseeing in New York City, Washington D.C., Boston and Niagara Falls.
HeartSong is currently working on a new live album, which will be available in August. Their previous album, Awesome Wonder, is currently available on iTunes and through Evangel’s Music Department office.