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God ‘opened up the doors’ for 25,000 copies of church’s CD

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (BP)–For the fourth time in the past five years, Brentwood (Tenn.) Baptist Church has produced a Christmas recording which members are giving away as a church outreach project.

But this year, to respond to the Sept. 11 terrorist tragedy, the church has produced 25,000 recordings and distributed them to people impacted by the attacks.

Dennis Worley, the church’s minister of worship, said the project has always required thinking outside the lines. The first year, the church conducted the project rather than a pageant or presentation. This year “boy, the doors started opening,” Worley said. “I mean God just opened up the doors. There’s no way to explain it.”

The first year the church conducted the project, in 1997, church members produced and distributed 7,500 cassette tapes. The next year, the number grew to 15,000 tapes as church members responded to the idea and the choir performed in malls, hospitals, bus stations, airports and other venues and then distributed free tapes after the performances.

In 1999, church members and musicians distributed 15,000 tapes while prayerwalking and leaving gift packets at houses all over Brentwood, which is located just south of Nashville. And church members gave tapes to co-workers and others, even people giving them a fast-food meal through a restaurant drive-through window, Worley said.

This year, the church was ready to repeat a similar project when the terrorists attacked, and several members discovered needs the choir’s music might help meet.

Phyllis Thompson, who worked at one time for President Jimmy Carter and was in Washington, D.C., several months during the past year, contacted Military Ministries of Newport News, Va., which provides deployment kits for soldiers to military chaplains. The ministry requested 5,000 CDs.

Then Thompson contacted the Christian Embassy in Washington, D.C., which requested 4,000 CDs to be given to both American politicians and staff members of foreign embassies.

Another choir member, Don Caldwell, a member of the Army National Guard, contacted Chaplain Jack Woodford at Fort Campbell, an Army post in Kentucky. Woodford requested 3,000 CDs for distribution to soldiers through worship services, gift baskets to needy soldiers and their families, and to the 10th Mountain Division of about 30,000 troops serving in the war on terrorism.

Finally, Worley wondered if a need for the CDs existed in New York City, which suffered the worst terrorist attack. He called a member of the Tennessee Baptist Convention staff who referred him to David Dean, director of missions of the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.

At first Dean said the small staff of the association couldn’t handle any more response to the terrorist attacks. Then he called Worley back and referred him to a volunteer who was developing Christmas gift baskets for victims of the attacks. Dean also requested 50 CDs to distribute to churches in the New York City area.

The CD is developed to minister to people, especially non-Christians, Worley said. To set it apart from other recorded Christmas music, it includes testimonies, readings and a greeting by senior pastor Mike Glenn.

It was natural, Worley said, to include a testimony by Thompson about her experiences in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11. This year’s recording also includes a 16-page booklet with messages from choir members and a message from the entire church about the terrorist attacks.

All CDs were shipped by the end of November with help from members who transported the 3,000 to Fort Campbell. Also choir member Gene Torti of Wurzburg Shipping Company of Nashville packaged and shipped 10,000 CDs without charging the church.

The remaining 12,000 CDs are being distributed by church members as gifts. A $5 donation is being asked per CD for the first time, Worley explained, to fund the enlarged project.

With all of the excitement, Worley is most concerned about following God’s leading. He doesn’t want to be so caught up with management of the project that he overlooks how God wants to use an individual through it, he said.

He encourages smaller churches to consider trying the project. Although the Brentwood church has a choir of about 125 members, much smaller churches can produce a tape for a minimal cost and use it as an outreach.

“We just want [the project] to be everything God wants it to be,” Worley said.

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  • Connie Davis