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Northport Church honors Hinton for 50 years in music ministrycomment (0)

April 16, 2009

By Anna Swindle

To John Hinton, “part time” means something different than it does to most.

He has served as the part-time music minster at Northport Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association for 44 years while simultaneously working as an educator in the Tuscaloosa County School System.

But Pastor John Nixon said Hinton’s work ethic is so remarkable you’d never know he was doing double duty.

“He’s been bivocational for 50 years, but I have not known full-time guys that have done as much,” Nixon said. “As a pastor, it’s been a joy to work with him.”

And Hinton’s years of service have not gone unnoticed by the rest of his church and community — on March 8, more than 500 people came to Northport Baptist for a special service to honor “Dr. John.”

Guest speakers included state Rep. Gerald Allen, Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon — who declared March 9 Dr. John Hinton Day — Tuscaloosa Association’s Director of Missions Jerry Wilkins and Hinton’s son Brian.

“Speaker after speaker mentioned his character and how he invests in people, whether it’s within the church or in other capacities,” Nixon said.

He said Hinton works hard to encourage members’ participation in music by incorporating their various talents. “He takes the gifts people have and builds the ministry around those gifts,” Nixon said. “Dr. John has a real vision of getting everybody involved in ministry and music and getting a better experience in worship.”

Janet Teer can testify to Hinton’s dedication to individuals. Teer, now Hinton’s assistant music director, grew up at Northport Baptist, and her first memories of him come from her time in both the children’s and youth choirs.

“That was in the late ’60s, and the choir programs back then were the youth programs, and John was, for all practical purposes, the youth director,” she said.

Teer said one of the most notable things about Hinton’s career as a music minister has been his ability to adapt to changing worship styles.

“I find it so remarkable that he grew up in the era of two to three hymns during the worship time and that was really it, but he’s really changed with the times,” she said. “In a service at Northport, you’re going to hear anything from bluegrass to opera and everything in between.”

With so much going on at the church, it is hard to believe that Hinton has time for anything else, but his involvement in the school system also has been a major part of his life. Currently he serves as the school board president, but he also has been a music director, a teacher, a principal, a personnel director and an assistant superintendant.

“He’s quite an individual and he’s interested in a lot of different things,” said James Barnett, a Northport Baptist member who also serves on the school board with Hinton.

Although Connie Doss, a secretary at the church, said Hinton is known to be “all business when it comes to music,” his character and devotion to both music and people have made him an irreplaceable presence at Northport Baptist.

“John is the heart of the church,” Teer said. “He has always been there to hold the church together. He’s a rock.”

Hinton said some of his biggest rewards come from watching young people grow into adults and then, in turn, having their children in choir. He hopes Northport Baptist’s music ministry continues to grow. “I’d like to see even more people involved in the programs and doing the work of the Lord.”

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