God was about to do a remarkable thing, and I was clueless!
I moved to Nashville in 2013, and within a few months, was called to be the part-time interim Minister of Music at Tusculum Hills Baptist Church in Nashville. Going in, I knew the church had experienced a dramatic membership decline, and no longer had a children’s music ministry. Beyond that, I was pretty much oblivious about this new ministry opportunity.
I didn’t realize that Tusculum Hills Baptist Church is right in the middle of a stretch along Nolensville Road known as the international corridor where thousands of immigrants have settled. I didn’t know that at Tusculum Elementary School, located directly across the street from the church, 26 languages are spoken, more than any other elementary school in the state of Tennessee. I was unaware that Nashville had recently become the top metropolitan city in the USA for immigrant population growth, and that many of those immigrants are refugees who have escaped persecution, and are struggling to start new lives in a free land.
As I talked with my pastor and children’s choir specialists and worship leaders in the area about these facts, God seemed to be placing the same three words in our minds:
CHILDREN’S MUSIC CAMP!
Almost instantly, a dedicated, passionate coalition came together around the dream of using music to minister to and share Christ with immigrant, refugee, underserved, and minority children in the Nolensville Road area.
Tusculum Hills pastor Paul Gunn enthusiastically embraced our efforts. Diane Dawson from The People’s Church brought her years of music camp experience to the team. Wayne Causey from Forest Hills Baptist led his church to provide funds and leadership, as did Mark Edwards from First Baptist Church, Nashville. Eventually, members from 10 different churches, all with distinctive worship styles, came together to provide selfless, servant-hearted leadership for a children’s music camp that enrolled 117 children from 14 different ethnic groups.
The camp was a life-changing experience for us. We saw Jesus shine brightly in the faces of children from many countries. Amanda Singer’s composition, “Whole World in His Hands,” became our theme song. We asked children from different nationalities to write that song title in their own language on a dry-erase marker board in the worship center.
A second music camp is scheduled for this summer, and plans are underway to start the Children’s Freedom Choir, an ongoing children’s choir for the children of South Nashville. We are thankful beyond words to God for allowing us to be a part of the incredible work He is doing through music to reach children from around the world.
Please contact me if you want to learn more about our camp, called the Summer Music School, or the Children’s Freedom Choir which is forming. I would also be thrilled to chat with you about any dream God may be forming in your mind about children’s music outreach where you live.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 (HCSB)
Terry Taylor is the Managing Editor of Growing in Grace Children’s Music Curriculum, and the bi-vocational Minister of Music at Tusculum Hills Baptist Church in Nashville. Terry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing in Grace will be at Worship Week 2015 (July 13-17, 2015) at Ridgecrest, NC. We hope you’ll join us for this wonderful worship conference focused on inspiring, motivating, and educating church leaders – from pastors and worship leaders, to pianists, orchestra members, and everyone in between – through time spent studying God’s word and singing His praises with some of the most passionate church and worship leaders in the country. There are training opportunities and ministry experiences for every person on your ministry staff and every member of the family. LifeWay Worship Week provides training, encouragement, and insight…allowing all who attend to refresh their hearts and be empowered by God to re-ignite their passion for ministry and worship.