Monday, May 11, 2015

The Week Long One Day Choir Tour

Andrew Lewis was a fixture at FUMC-Kissimmee by the time I arrived in 1994. Over the years he served the church as organist, interim youth pastor and eventually Director of Music and Worship. He also directed the youth choir (first called Celebration Singers and later nUsong) during my tenure and often helped with other youth activities as well. Andrew was (is!) a great guy, a wonderful musician, and one of my best friends during the Kissimmee years. We started making plans as early as 1995 to try and do a youth choir tour as a part of our summer ministries, but it didn't come together until June 20-27, 1998. This is the story of that tour- a short story!

Andrew had nUsong ready to hit the road and sing. Our youth worship band (which I called Spicy Bean Burrito; they actually had no name) was ready to rock. We had skits prepared, roadies to help us set up the sound equipment and drivers for the vans. My job was to find us places to play. The first stop was easy; I booked us on a Sunday morning at my old stomping grounds, Springfield Friends Meeting in High Point, NC.  Two of our youth, Jill and Erica Souther, got us a gig on that Sunday night at an outdoor venue in Wilkes CountyNC, sponsored by a church their relatives attended. I had a possibility of a host church for Tuesday, and on Wednesday we were to go to my uncle's church near Raleigh. On Friday we were to be back in the Greensboro area at another Friends Meeting. Things were coming together- that is, until they completely fell apart!

By the time we left Kissimmee, there was nothing left of our choir tour but the two Sunday events. We would spend the rest of the week travelling around, calling people and begging them to let us come sing, and trying to fill the days. Those two worship events were wonderful; unfortunately they were the only two we played all week. It was quite a disappointment for the group, and I was miserable, knowing I had let everyone down. Because of all the free-time, some of the relationships in the group became a little strained as the week went on, and there were two youth (now a lovely married couple) I thought we might ditch at a gas station in Georgia; but we all survived. Don't get me wrong, we had plenty of fun that week. We visited Carowinds (see picture at top) in Charlotte, made a stop in Myrtle Beach, played lots of Spoons and loved being together. But the bottom line was I failed the group, and we didn't get to do many of the things we had prepared so hard to accomplish. We had wanted to bring Jesus to people in a fresh, exciting way, and we did. But only twice. We were the first (only?) live rock band to play worship at Springfield Friends, so we had that going for us, but all-in-all I consider it a major OOPS in my career. And I felt really bad for Andrew, who had wanted the tour to happen for so long. When I pick my all-time  church staff in a future posting, you can bet Andrew will be in that group. I just have to figure out which job to give him...

There is one final epilogue to this story that has been mentioned here before. All of the playing of Spoons that helped fill the long hours we spent in motels became quite competitive. It became fashionable for the losers in these games (GASP!  There was gambling on a youth trip?) to have to do something embarrassing. One such loser had to run up and down the hall outside her room with only a towel wrapped around her. A few years later, at her Senior Roast, an 8x10 full color picture (albeit a bit blurry) of her running in that towel showed up. I still have that picture. I don't know how often Cyndi Reep Browning reads this blog, but if you are out there, Reep, that picture is safe- for now!  I know I have threatened you with it before, but the time draws near! The rest of you may want to warn her...

Because of Jesus,


Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!