I received an email from someone who was deeply involved in the music ministry at my previous church. It reminds me to give proper due to Berean Baptist Church, in this space but more importantly as a matter of appropriately holding those amazing people in my heart.
In 1985, Karen and I were raising a young family in Hinsdale, a western suburb of Chicago. It was a winter much like this winter, actually, with intense cold. Why in the world I would even entertain a move to Minneapolis – for any reason – is still beyond me. But consider I did, and after Easter that year I was called into a full-time ministry of church music.
For years I was convinced that the good people of Berean’s search committee had resumes for two Charles Kings, and had just pulled the wrong one off the stack that winter. Berean had never had a full-time music pastor, and I had never been one – we were well suited; neither party knew what to expect! The church, for its part, acquitted itself admirably. They took in a young know-it-all, gave me a chance to succeed and to fail safely, and eventually even ordained me to the ministry of the Word through music.
I had conducted choirs, prepared programs, and planned worship, but never been responsible for the ongoing, week-to-week work of a choir and worship planning. My pastor kept an appropriate watchful eye on me, while at the same time giving room to develop and grow in these areas and as a leader. During an interim between pastors, the leadership determined that in matters of public worship, the buck would stop with me. Over 16 months the congregation and I grew in matters of expression and trust. (Karen still chuckles over the comment of a dear older woman’s comment that I was “running the church.” Ha! Man, would that have been a disaster.)
We moved together into a longer, even richer ministry partnership when Roger Thompson was called to that pulpit. Roger and I both speak “intuitive,” and there was a delightful creativity and deepening that took place over 5 years of working with him. A special bonding also took place with the willing and joyful choir members. Instrumental music took on a new vigor. A summer sabbatical provided some exciting study and family time. And then we moved into a whole new phase with the introduction of a contemporary service.
At this point, readers who know me – or who know College Church – might expect a rant. Well, maybe another time. We gave due diligence to the principles and values of this service. Very fine musicians gave boat-loads of time and energy to it. In my final four years at Berean, it seemed that Sunday mornings popped along at full speed, all cylinders firing. It was stimulating, rewarding, sometimes confusing. If, ultimately, it was the contemporary service experience that led to my openness to a change in ministry, that is more a reflection on me than on Berean Baptist Church.
So, old friend, thanks for writing this week. You have stirred fond memories of a church God has blessed, and which God has used to bless me – not just in my 11 years there but through the 11 years since I left.