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From SBC leaders to local churches, new vocal group gains a hearing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Paige Patterson probably doesn’t get serenaded from hotel balconies often. Neither do the Boyce Singers often sing to Southern Baptist Convention presidents.

But last September, a chance encounter with the SBC president provided this group of vocalists from the James P. Boyce College of the Bible in Louisville, Ky., with a rare concert opportunity. Standing on an overhang of a Lynchburg, Va., hotel, the Boyce Singers presented Patterson with an a cappella performance.

“We introduced ourselves, and we ended up singing one of our songs for him,” said Jason Cummings, student leader of the Singers. “After we finished we prayed for Dr. Patterson and his leadership. … It was a great privilege to minister in this way.”

Since their formation in August, though, the ministry of these seven singers from the undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has extended far beyond impromptu performances. In fact, the students have lifted voices and spirits everywhere they’ve performed.

“The team has a threefold purpose,” explained Cummings, of Kansas City, Mo. “One is, first and foremost, to honor and glorify Christ in everything we do. Two is to edify and minister to the local church. And three is to recruit others for the harvest.”

Now on almost a weekly basis, students Cummings, Rachel Condon, Tiffany Halbin, Chris Lasley, Chad Pearce, Alicia Ruark, Nicole Sparling and music director Eric Campbell seek to fulfill this threefold purpose in churches across the country.

Their ministry has already reached seven states through 25 performances just this academic year. And their impact on individuals has been nothing short of spectacular, said David Adams, dean of students for Boyce College and director of the Singers.

“Scores have responded to invitations in a variety of settings — some for salvation, some for the call to ministry, many to make things right in their relationship with God,” Adams said. “God using the group has been very inspiring.”

Though they perform for all ages, their concerts have specifically targeted teenagers in local congregations. Through performances at youth rallies and numerous churches, the team has seen the lives of several youth changed dramatically.

“Having a team come into a church like that brings a new set of faces to a youth group,” said Sparling, of Fairborn, Ohio. “People ask you questions about things that they may not ask other people who are there all the time.”

One rally in particular resulted in several youth dedicating their lives to full-time ministry. This fits perfectly with the team’s third goal — recruitment of workers for the harvest.

Adams hopes the Singers’ efforts “will translate into the team being used of God to see new students come to our school.”

In fact, last year’s team recruited a current Boyce Singer after a concert in Wichita, Kan.

The Singers do not limit themselves to ministry to youth, though. They have sung at several seminary events, including chapel services and a church planting fellowship.

The team has also had some rather unusual singing opportunities, including their performance to Patterson. Most recently, the Singers appeared for one hour on WJIE-FM — a Louisville Christian radio station.

These unique opportunities do not divert the Singers from their principle passion — ministering to the church.

“When you minister in a local church, you have a limited number of people that you can reach,” Sparling explained. “But when you’re on the road you have a lot more people around you.”

“We hope that as a result of the team’s ministry believers will be blessed and a love for the church affirmed,” Adams added.

To minister in churches, the team travels extensively — sometimes hitting the road for three or four weekends a month. This strenuous touring schedule can test the time management skills of even the best students.

“I’m graduating in May, and I’m getting married in June, and I’m in the Singers,” Sparling said. “It’s hard, but you know what, it’s worth it because you have such an active ministry.”

The team members’ travels also allow them to minister to host families.

“Early in the year, one of our team members who was staying at a host family actually led one of the youth in that home to the Lord,” said Halbin, of Bluford, Ill.

Adams has had the opportunity to go along on many of the Singers’ trips. In these settings is where he witnesses the team’s true colors.

“The lives of the members is what has been the greatest blessing,” said Adams, who has traveled to four different states with the Singers. “As I have gotten to know each member, I have seen in them a genuine love for Christ and a desire to be used by him.

“Their ministry on the platform is merely an outflow of their walk with Christ. I feel very humbled to have been given the opportunity to minister with them in a variety of settings.”

Though the Singers are booked for the remainder of the year, anyone interested in scheduling a concert for next year may contact Cummings at (502) 897-4190 or (502) 897-4534.

    About the Author

  • Bryan Cribb