A 50th anniversary celebration in a new location plus reinstated handbell training and the addition of a contemporary component are parts of this week’s annual Louisiana Baptist Convention Music Conference being held at Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport.
SHREVEPORT – A 50th anniversary celebration in a new location plus reinstated handbell training and the addition of a contemporary component are parts of this week’s annual Louisiana Baptist Convention Music Conference being held at Summer Grove Baptist Church in Shreveport.
“This is a wonderful opportunity,” said Randy Turner, LBC music strategist. “Our weekend will include many training sessions from graded choirs to praise band and praise teams.”
The LBC department of church music was started in December 1947, with L.C. Alexander as first ‘secretary’ – ‘strategist’ would be the updated term. When he retired in 1966, Carroll Lowe moved into that position, according to a Louisiana Baptist history, House Upon A Rock, by Glen Lee Greene. Jim Faull followed Lowe, and Turner took over in 2006.
“There were music conferences prior to 1957. However, it became an annual event and officially called the Louisiana Church Music Conference in 1957,” Turner said. “That is why this year’s conference will be our 50th anniversary celebration.
The festivities are to include the arrangement by Camp Kirkland of a piece of music handwritten by Lowe, Taking the Lead.
Over the last three decades, Kirkland has emerged as one of the premier church musicians in the nation. He is recognized as the pioneer in establishing instrumental music as a viable medium in the life of the church music program. In 1971, he began the instrumental music program at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla.
In addition to being a highly skilled and recognized educator, clinician and spokesman, Camp Kirkland has enjoyed a brilliant career as an arranger and orchestrator. He has over 1,000 publications in his catalog and is an important contributor to the leading publishers of church music today.
He has the reputation of being a consummate professional both in the creative process, in the recording studio, and in working with church music programs around the country.
Camp’s love for Christ is evident in every phase of his art. Church musicians around the world have been blessed not only by his music but also by his testimony to the faithfulness of God, according to his website, www.campkirkland.com.
Joining Kirkland are to be Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship Music Group; Ray, Jones, worship leader from San Antonio; Marilyn Ham, pianist and recording artist; and Robby Sharp, praise band/praise team leader from Istrouma Baptist in Baton Rouge, as well as several other notable music leaders from Louisiana.
For the first time, the LBC Music Conference is to take place away from Alexandria.
“This is a special year for us,” Turner said in giving reasons for the conference taking place in Shreveport. “In many ways it’s an experiment to see if people around the state will support a different location. … Calvary Alexandria has always been so gracious to host us. We knew we needed a church that could provide that level of support, and Summer Grove has done just that. They have really stepped up to the plate to provide what we needed.”
Conference attendees will be able to tour Summer Grove’s campus, including its delightful forest for youngsters, and its hangout youth area. That’s a bonus, Turner said.
“We thought it important for our people around the state to see other churches,” Turner said. “That opens them to new ideas for their churches.”
The two-day event starts with workshops registration at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 3, and concludes just before noon on Saturday.
Handbells is among a long list of conferences designed to provide training for every age level and contemporary as well as traditional music styles.
“It’s been several years since we’ve done handbells but I feel like we need to do it,” Turner said. “Investments [in handbells] have been made in our churches. It’s time to pick them up again and make them a significant part of the worship experience.”
Also new this year: contemporary training, which is to be led by Robbie Sharp of Istrouma Baptist, with discussion of resources for contemporary and blended services, as well as separate breakout sessions for drummers, keyboardists, guitarists and singers.
“A call to serve is a call to prepare,” Turner said. “This conference is to help prepare our workers to be able to lead our churches in worship that honors God with excellence as well as with sincerity.”
The Friday evening worship service is to involve the Louisiana Singing Ministers and Singing Women, as well as a mass choir of all who would like to sing. Jones of Community Bible Church in San Antonio is to lead the mass choir and congregation.
The Friday evening service is free; the training during the day Friday and Saturday costs $90. Registration remains open. About 400 people are expected to participate in the 50h annual LBC Music Conference.
Conference planners include Todd DuBose, music minister at First Baptist Minden and president of the LBCMC; Robin Thomas, pianist and instrumentalist at First Baptist West Monroe and LBCMC president-elect; Teresa Thomason, LBC keyboard consultant; Bonnie Beeman, graded choir consultant; Kris Smith, music minister at First Baptist Natchitoches and youth music consultant; Kathy Doolittle, LBC music administrative assistant; and Turner.