Music Missions: The Story of Parkway

Parkway Baptist Church in Pascagoula, Mississippi is a Story that is ever-unfolding in the hearts of local Jackson County Mississippi Baptists.

Most recently, our dear friend and co-laborer in ministry, Pastor Martin Britt, served this church faithfully while fighting his own personal battle with terminal cancer.  Martin had previously worked in Christian Counseling and touched thousands of lives during that career.  He was an impeccable Bible teacher, especially on the themes of Heaven, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Kingdom of God.

Martin left us for Heaven on September 6th and left an indelible legacy at Parkway and across the Mississippi Coast.  We are forever grateful for his ministry.

As I worked alongside Martin this summer, it became painfully obvious to us both that Parkway was in dire need of a music minister, as they had been struggling to fill that position for the past few years.  Sunday morning services had become sparsely filled with soloists, worship videos, and sometimes special music guests; but, as all who love to gather in worship realize, it’s just not the same as ‘live’ worship with a worship leader and a musically gifted team to lead you every week.

In July, I offered to fill that gap as a solo worship leader, singing from the piano, leading a few worship songs and hymns for the few dozen Sunday morning worshipers. The moments were sweet and somewhat somber as we all knew Martin’s days with us were soon coming to a close here on earth.  The worship team at Church on the Rock Pascagoula would soon join me on Sunday mornings — quickly working through our 9:15am sound check, loading up our cars to trek up the road to Parkway (( less than a 5-minute drive )), lead a 3-or-4 song set of songs for Parkway, then scoot back to COTR for our 11am start time.

We have continued to follow that Sunday Morning pattern since Martin’s homegoing to Heaven and our lives have been supremely blessed and changed for it.  We love the folks at Parkway, and they are loving us in return by singing, increasing in attendance and participation, and affirming us weekly with their appreciation.

I first heard the term “music missions” during the Brownsville Revival, when my mentor and friend Lindell Cooley, founded his worship ministry label as such.  Martin and I both loved Lindell’s music and we are both avid students of revival in the Church.  We discussed ‘kingdom’ principles all the time, and how that the various congregations in our cities must somehow find the way to work together, as is the model of the Kingdom of God, to bring about unity, revival, and missions for the salvation of lost souls, hurting souls, and broken people.

We believe that “music missions” is coming to fruition through our music ministry efforts at Parkway and across our Mississippi Coast.

Parkway Baptist Church is in a season of grief, but not without Hope!  Parkway is a beautifully diverse congregation of people from very different socio-economic backgrounds who have loved one another through the death of their beloved pastor, through the trials of a changing congregational dynamic, and who are now walking through the “refreshing” of a new and wonderful Hope that God will revive them for His glory, and for the increase of His Kingdom.

I would ask these immediate prayer requests;

  1. PRAY for Parkway Baptist Church … as they love one another, as they re-evaluate their opportunities for ministry, and as they seek pastoral leadership in the days ahead.
  2. GIVE if you are able … to our Music Missions efforts as we serve Parkway, Church on the Rock, and other local small town churches who are diligently searching for worship leaders and worship pastors.
  3. ATTEND a Sunday worship service with us if you are near the Gulf Coast!  The folks at Parkway and Church on the Rock are a beautifully diverse “family” of sister churches, loving one another, serving one another, and unifying our community.

Click here to GIVE NOW … simply memo your gift:  “Parkway Missions”.



College at 55 … and 1/2

Six months ago, I blogged that I was venturing [back] into the journey of college — at age 55. Here’s what’s up today.

So, college is a privilege to begin with. Not everyone who wishes to attend college or university is afforded that luxury. Even, in America. With that said, I am extremely grateful that I am even afforded the option of returning to college having given it my ‘shot’ at 18 years of age the first go ’round.

My friend Luke Gambill, as I have mentioned before, is an extremely talented and gifted musician. Much smarter than me. And, an excellent educator. We reconnected a few years back and began keeping up with one another’s careers and ministries. Long story short — Luke compelled me to consider completing my college education as he was transitioning towards completion of his doctoral studies. I took him up on the offer.

Dr. Wes Dykes began to guide me towards admissions and the rigors of course selections, I got started, and … six months later … I have completed two trimesters of study as a #CareyMusic student in the Winters School of Music and Ministry Studies.

I really did not think I could pull this off. I’ve enjoyed the journey, but it’s been a challenge. It’s thrilling, no doubt! But, a challenge.

My sweet wife Sheryl has become my greatest cheerleader, all over again. She has always stood by me, through the horrors of our darkest days of pain and loss, through the craziness of raising three amazing kids [now adults], and through the joys of mountaintops and accomplishments in life and ministry together. But — this is a new adventure, for the both of us. We literally feel like teenagers again!

So, I dive in to my next trimester at #Carey next week.

As I observe these ‘kids’ around me at #Carey who are fast becoming the Worship Leaders and Worship Pastors of today’s church — I must tell you — I am amazed! These kids “get” it.

They are wise beyond their years. They are consumed with Jesus. They love pleasing the audience of One. They love the local church. They love tradition. They love creativity. They love excellence. They love diversity. They love others. They love themselves. They work hard. They produce amazing results.

I highly recommend you follow our websites and social media sites as the music departments and ministries at #Carey are growing and developing. I am honored to be part of this movement of Music Education, Worship, and Church Growth in south Mississippi!

Hang on … the best is yet to come! #OneGoalOnePassion #CareyMusic

Hickory Ridge

Hickory Ridge is a small rural community south of Jackson Mississippi and west of Hwy 49 at Florence Mississippi.  These are salt of the earth country folks.  Hickory Ridge Baptist Church popped up on my radar about five years ago, as my friend Gerald Simmons shared with me his visits there as guest worship leader and evangelist.

Gerald began to tell me of his newfound friendship with Pastor Terry Fant and how God had gloriously redeemed Terry from a life of alcoholism and anger.  HRBC allowed Terry and Tina and their sweet family to come onboard, continue to heal, and to share their Story with anyone who would listen.  That began in a small 200-seat country church building.  Today, the story is shared with more than 1,000 people who attend HRBC weekly, who in turn are taking the Story of Redemption to all of Rankin County Mississippi.  The ongoing story of Hickory Ridge is nothing short of a “movement”, as we have heard this week from Pastor Rick Ousley during anointed and Spirit-filled revival worship services.

I have led worship for more than 40 years now.  I began in my teenage years leading traditional Baptist congregations in the ‘new songs’ of the 1970s which sprang out of the 1960s Jesus Movement.  This week at Hickory Ridge, we are singing the ‘new songs’ of worship which have sprung from the 90s modern worship movement as well as the beloved hymns of the past 200 years in the Church.  These folks LOVE to sing and that simply draws on the creative in me as a worship leader!

This week I have watched a small town country church turned “move of God” congregation now reaching thousands in Rankin County, as they pour out their hearts in worship, love and restore broken people, and serve the needs of everyone God will place in their paths.

Pastor Terry Fant’s passion is to preach the Gospel to broken people — people ‘in the ditch’, as Rick Ousley calls ‘us’.  We who have failed, messed up, and missed the mark more times than even our friends and family can tolerate.  Still, God the Father “runs” to meet us as we return from our prodigal pig pens of failure.

If you are in your ditch, or pig pen, or have found yourself fallen and messed up from the crazy turns of life … KNOW that God cares. And He has already planned your comeback party!  Run HOME.  The Father is waiting … and Hickory Ridge will be the first in line to love you back to the Family!

College at 55

I have given the better portion of 40 years of my life to worship leading in some form or another.  I was on church platforms at age 15 as a youth music minister with a guitar strapped on me, leading congregations in gospel songs, hymns, and 70s contemporary Christian music with my mom and brothers.  By my college and early married years in the 1980s, I had shifted over to piano and digital keyboards to lead “with the band” as we composed choir and ensemble pieces that blended traditional church hymns with contemporary songs, and of course those good old Gospel standards from the Gaithers.

As I turn 55 this year, we have come to know worship music as an industry category, no longer just a ‘phase’ that church musicians are going through; but an actual industry unto itself, launching new worship artists at an ever-increasing pace.

I recently re-enrolled in college at William Carey University to complete a bachelor’s degree, which I had put off due to marriage, raising children, and the demands of work life.  As I discuss my options with advisers and professors, I find myself more excited and inspired than ever!   The expectations and opportunities for worship music which serves the Church, and also reaches the masses of un-churched is virtually limitless.  The culture has demanded of us — the Church — that we respond with greater focus on purpose, excellence, clarity, and yes — good theology.

Worship leading for churches has never been more challenging for we musicians.  Technology has introduced cool and hip new methods of learning, teaching, training, and performing.  Raw talent is a must, of course. But the motive of the heart and the desire to make disciples of Christ with our musical gifts has never been more important for us as leaders, in my humble opinion.

I love what I see occurring in the worship music industry.  But, if I am honest, what inspires me personally and as a worship leader is what I see occurring in the local congregations across America.  At 55, if feels as if I’m beginning again.  And I love it!

As my friend and mentor Lindell Cooley would instruct his congregation and followers:  Worship God. Enjoy His Presence. Forever.