Music has always been a passion for the Rev. Chris Winford. From the beginning, participating in the school choir through college, singing was a driving force in his life.
Winford made all-region choir for three years and was offered a choir scholarship at Texas Tech University. Even since becoming the pastor at First Baptist Church in Brunswick, his interest in sharing music has continued.
In addition to leading the congregation, Winford also sings in the church’s men’s choir, His Men. It’s no small effort but one he finds incredibly rewarding.
“To sing in a performance requires a lot of extra work from learning the song, the words and how to best present the music. It takes work but the payoff is wonderful,” he said.
All eyes will be on Winford as he steps up to sing a solo during First Baptist’s upcoming spring concert. Winford will sing a portion of the contemporary tune “It’s About the Cross.”
Titled A Night of Worship, the performance will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at the newly remodeled sanctuary, 1311 Union St., Brunswick. Winford is looking forward to contributing to the concert, which has become an honored local tradition.
“We are excited to share this year’s spring concert with the community. This is one of our largest outreach opportunities to let people know of the love of Jesus through music. It is a fantastic night of worship for the whole family,” he said.
Like Winford, music minister Mark Clay is equally excited about the performance. Also a member of His Men, Clay has long understood the power of music as a way of connecting with God. He often references biblical passages such as Colossians and Ephesians that encourage singing “to God” and “to the Lord” and Ephesians 5:19, “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”
“Singing has such a unique way of bringing your heart, soul, mind and strength together to focus entirely and completely on God. In an age of distraction, singing grabs the attention of all our senses and focuses us on God,” Clay said.
“It is to Him and about Him that we sing. Worshipping through music is powerful. When we sing, we walk a God-designed pathway to joy. When we sing, we glorify God.”
There will be plenty of voices merging to glorify the Almighty Sunday. In addition to His Men, other First Baptist choral groups will join the concert. It will include First Praise Choir, First Sounds Orchestra and a vast array of vocal ensembles. All together, more than 100 vocalists and instrumentalists will take the stage.
“Our First Praise Choir is featured, which has about 85 members. This group leads our church and community in worship. Accompanying the choir is First Sounds, a 25-member orchestra that plays each Sunday for worship and other special events throughout the year,” he said. “Adoration, a ladies ensemble, and Joyful Praise, a mixed vocal group, will also share in the night of worship.”
The groups will perform a range of music from familiar hymns of the church to gospel and contemporary styles. Clay feels there will certainly be something for everyone. Those in attendance will also have an opportunity to participate.
“The congregation will have the opportunity to sing along on a stirring arrangement of the familiar hymn ‘How Great Thou Art’ and on another beautiful song of worship,” he said.
Of course, a large-scale event like this takes a so-called village. Clay is quick to offer credit to those in the congregation who selflessly gave their time and energy.
“An event of this magnitude involves many of our church members — choir members, instrumentalists, ensemble members, ushers, greeters, nursery workers, production personnel, audio and lighting technicians, sanctuary décor and more,” he said. “The list goes on and on with people who willingly give of their time and talents to present the gospel in song to our community.”
Rather than a simple concert, the evening will be one for unity and communal worship.
“The songs we will sing tell of the great things God has done. They express gratitude and thanks for the ways He has worked in our lives. There are songs of hope, praise, thanks, prayer and encouragement,” he said.
“The focus of the music is on Jesus, who He is, what He has done for us on the cross and that we are loved and treasured by Him.”