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Tuscaloosa church’s first youth choir in a decade gets strong startcomment (0)

March 22, 2007

By Greg Heyman

The sanctuary of Calvary Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, in Tuscaloosa Baptist Association was filled with a joyous noise during both morning services March 4 as worshipers listened to the church’s youth choir for the first time since 1995.

About 45 youth were greeted by a standing ovation after singing "Who Am I." Re-establishing a youth choir was a priority for Minister of Worship Charlie Martin because of the impact it had on his life.

"It was through the youth choir that God called me into ministry," said Martin, who joined Calvary Baptist’s staff in September 2006. "That’s a reason I have a passion for it, and I think the kids see that in my heart as I share with them about what youth choir did for me as a teenager."

He hopes the choir will prepare students to be worship leaders and be an outreach tool.

Since organizing in January, Martin said 40–50 youth have practiced every Sunday, and he anticipates most of them will participate each time the choir sings.

Robert Mullins, minister to youth, said it is his understanding that Calvary’s youth choir disbanded more than a decade ago because of a lack of interest. The response of youth now to reviving the choir shows there is definitely an excitement about the ministry.

"I’ve never seen anybody get something out of kids [like] what he’s gotten," Mullins said.

Martin plans to use a combination of secular music teenagers are familiar with and Christian songs to draw those who don’t attend church into opening their hearts to the gospel message. He saw success using the same approach with the youth choir when he was associate pastor of prayer and worship at NorthPark Baptist Church, Trussville, in Birmingham Baptist Association.

To accomplish that, Martin has planned a missions trip to New Orleans June 6–9. But Martin said he wants the youth choir’s ministry outside the church to be more than an annual thing.

Martin said the choir can also minister by singing at halftime shows and pre-game shows for athletic events, along with other functions. "I think the ministry part of [youth choir], for me, is a lot more important than the music. Music is just the medium through which I minister."

Martin added that he thinks music is not the sole reason that students come to youth choir.

For David Burkhalter, 15, youth choir not only gives him an extra hour at church each week but also time with his friends "working together to do something bigger than us."

Carmen Truelove, 15, said it has made youth choir more exciting knowing that "we’re doing something that’s going to make an impact on people’s lives in our church and with our missions."

Pastor Walter Jackson believes the choir will not only result in more youth involvement but also open doors for ministering to other youth through the missions trip and the public events where the choir sings. "We’re going to bring in a lot of lost kids through this, as well as saved kids, and it just kind of meshes the youth group deeper … it lets them be a part (of the church’s ministry)," he said.

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