June 20, 2006
Recently I’ve written quite a bit on this weblog about the loss of congregational singing in our churches. I am happy to report that singing is alive and well at the MEF conference this week. I don’t know how Jamall Badry, the Executive Director of MEF, does it, but each year he arranges for a stellar line-up of musicians. This year we have Damaris Carbaugh, Carolyn Reed, John Hall, Scott Cameron, Russell Newport, Linda Skaret, Paul and Marjorie Ferrin, the Burchfield Brothers, Entourage, Greg Buchanan, plus a group of 58 very enthusiastic senior adults from Albuquerque called Young at Heart. Their average age is 74, and the oldest person in the group is 94. They brought down the house last night with a rollicking version of “I Woke Up This Morning Feeling Fine.” At the seminar yesterday Carolyn and Scott did a version of “I’ve Just Seen Jesus” that caused us to stand and cheer when it was over. As Jamall says, “You don’t have to ask permission to clap at an MEF conference.” Several times after a particularly powerful song, he has come to the microphone and said in a deadpan voice, “That’ll do.” Indeed it will.
Many of the songs this week have been about heaven. Without any prearrangement, it seems that our thoughts are being lifted to eternal realities. Russell Newport, who is 85 years old and still sings with enormous power, told us that his 54-year-old son (who served as a missionary in Africa) has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He sent his parents a copy of Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven with the inscription, “See you there soon.”
We’ve wept and clapped and cheered our way through the first two days and there is more to come. Every message has hit the mark, and when we sing the conference theme song, “No More Night,” the Holy Spirit fills the sanctuary. God is at work here in Colorado Springs.