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Union Grove’s music ministry team nears 28 years togethercomment (0)

February 24, 2011

By Anna Swindle

If you’ve attended a worship service at Union Grove Baptist Church, Crossville, in the past 28 years, then chances are you’ve seen the DeKalb Baptist Association church’s dedicated music team in action. Music minister and vocalist Donny Burns, his wife and organist Jo and pianist Judy Davis have been a trio for nearly three decades, sharing their time and talent to keep their church full of music.

“They’re always there, no matter what,” said Union Grove Baptist member Michelle Johnston, who is also the Burnses’ niece. “They do anything in the church that needs to be done, whether it’s related to music or not. I wish there were more people like them.”

And according to Donny, their enthusiasm hasn’t waned. He has been involved in the music ministry at Union Grove since joining the church in 1971, when he and Jo married.

In addition to leading the adult choir, he has been involved in establishing groups including a youth choir, children’s choir, puppet ministry and choir chimes team.

“Many of our choir members have been faithful all through the years,” Donny said. “Some come and go but some you can count on being there all the time, and that means they’re good at putting up with me!”

Jo knows something about being faithful to Union Grove as well. In fact, she grew up in the church and remembers learning to play the piano there. She transitioned to playing the organ when the church needed someone to take on that role and shows no signs of slowing.

“I don’t see any stopping point,” Jo said. “I guess when I get too old and decrepit and can’t get up to the organ, that’s when I’ll have to give it up.”

According to Pastor Zach Richards, keeping Donny, Jo and Judy as Union Grove’s music leaders is a positive for the whole congregation.

“They blend music and music styles so well, so everyone gets a bit of what they want to hear,” he said. “We all take for granted that anything they produce is going to be good.”

They also work to encourage a spirit of participation among their fellow church members and make themselves available to practice with those who have volunteered to take part in the Sunday worship service.

“We try to involve anyone who wants to be involved in the program, even if they’re nervous to perform in front of everyone,” Jo said.

“We encourage them to try it, because that’s where God might want them to be.”

For Judy, working with Donny and Jo has been “a blessing.” They’ve formed a strong bond through the years, and things have always come together naturally for the three-person team.

“If Donny picks a song I don’t feel comfortable with, we work together to make it work,” Judy said. “We’re so used to each other that we’re just a good team. We’ve always worked well together.”

As for their favorite song to play together, they said, “All of them!”

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