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Gospel music fest in Scotland wows crowds & changes lives

FRASERBURGH, Scotland (BP)–A group of seven laymen from all walks of life and varying denominations believed that Scotland’s Gospel Music Convention would help their countrymen tune in to the gospel.

Alex Duthie of the village of Boddam was among the first to have a vision for a Scottish gospel music fest, held the past three years in Fraserburgh.

“I’m a great fan of gospel music,” Duthie recounted. “Several of us had attended the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ky., and saw what a grand meeting it was. We felt holding a gospel music convention could help reach this area for Christ — and it has. We give God all the glory.”

John Watt, another convention organizer, concurred. “We wanted to introduce the people here to Christ. I love music and I believed this was a way of spreading the gospel.”

The men formed the Gospel Music Convention, a week of preaching, music and joy in the Lord. This year’s gathering brought artists from several countries, including the United States.

Clifton Jansky, whose Texas sound hit the top of this year’s Christian Country charts with “Heart Transplant,” gained hundreds of new fans after his appearance at the GMC.

“The people were so genuine,” Jansky said. “My testimony is in my songs, but I also like to share the whole story of where Jesus Christ has brought me from.”

Jansky had a successful career as a country music artist before accepting Christ as Lord and Savior and turning his talents toward Christian music. He makes his home in San Antonio, where he is active in First Baptist Universal City and works as a member of the Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelists.

“A full year of prayer and preparation brought Clifton and these others here,” Duthie said. “And God has blessed and used them.”

In addition to the singing and preaching events at Fraserburgh’s Leisure Centre, times of prayer were slated and teaching sessions focused on such topics as “How to Share Your Faith” led by Gary Maroney, an evangelist with God-Bold in San Marcos, Texas.

A simultaneous children’s program also was part of this spring’s three-day convention, while a huge crowd of teens and young adults gathered over at the city’s seaside fish market to hear contemporary Christian music and more preaching from Maroney.

“We even got to go into the prison in Peterhead,” Jansky interjected. “Ordinarily, getting permission to do this is a long process, but God opened that door at a moment’s notice. One of the prisoners had heard me speaking on the radio here and he began to pray for God to send me to the prison. Seven men prayed to receive Christ!”

For the Regents Quartet of Jacksonville, Fla., all members of First Baptist Church there, the convention provided their first visit to Scotland.

“One of the committee members bought our CD in a bookstore in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.,” said Jeff Weeks, the group’s tenor. “Next thing we know we’re invited to Scotland! This has been an incredible privilege.”

Among those pulling double duty at the convention and the youth sessions, Reggie and Ladye Love Smith, who attend Nashville’s Bellevue Community Church back in Tennessee, brought along a band of talented musicians who stirred the Scottish audience to their feet in celebrating the good news via music.

“The people of Scotland have a great love for gospel music,” Ladye Smith said. “Reggie and I have been on some of the Gaither videos and many of the Scots knew us from those. We’ve loved meeting the people, coming to their country. I know God is using the GMC to make a tremendous impact on this area.”

Scotland’s own Gospel Heirs graced the convention stage this year. Twins John and Andrew Polson attend Hamilton Baptist Church in Lanarkshire near Glasgow. The group’s other member, Derek McCormick, calls Craigalbert Christian Fellowship in Cumbernauld Glasgow his church home.

“It’s been great to be with the redeemed of God and to come to share the good news,” Andrew Polson beamed. “So much has been accomplished through the GMC. It’s a blessing for people to have this opportunity to come away from their daily tasks and to celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Pastor John Clunas of Peterhead Baptist Church was overjoyed at the response to the GMC. Clunas, who formerly pastored New Kensington Baptist Church in Pennsylvania, welcomed the Regents Quartet into his Sunday morning services.

“What a joy when we can gather together and share the love of Christ!” he exclaimed. “It’s wonderful to be part of something that brings together believers from many denominations and from all over expressly to work together to reach others for the kingdom.”

Norway’s Focus Quartet also took the GMC stage. While the group’s singers are members of Austevoll Church, a Lutheran congregation, their pianist Vigdis Weloy and her guitarist husband Jon Levi attend a small Pentecostal church.

Per Nordstrand, the quartet’s lead singer, underscored the GMC’s uniqueness. “Music transcends denominational barriers. The people here are good Christian soldiers. Being a part of this feels very good,” he said. “It’s a blessing from above. So many prayers have been prayed and will bring about much even years and years from now. And already we have seen many people come to Christ through this event.”

From Alabama, the group Appointed made their first GMC appearance. Scott Barritt donned a kilt and enjoyed resounding laughter and applause for his attempt to embrace Scottish culture. “This has been the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “We’ve had fun, but most importantly, we’ve shared Jesus. There seems to be such a spiritual awakening going on here.”

While Scott resides and fellowships north of Alabama in Tennessee’s New Vision Baptist in Murfreesboro, baritone and songwriter for the group Tommy Swindle attends Gilliam Springs Baptist Church in Arab, Ala.

Local artists Paul and Sharon Gardiner brought their talents from Fraserburgh Assembly of God where Paul serves as youth pastor. The couple is originally from Northern Ireland but also spent time in the United States while Paul served at a church in Detroit.

Northern Ireland also was represented by solo artist Amy Roberts and the Calvary Quartet. Roberts belongs to Christ Church in Lisbon while the three brothers who comprise the Calvary Quartet, David, George and James Strange, are members of Randalstown Free Presbyterian Church. Tenor Karl Simpson attends Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast.

“These people are not just Christians on the surface,” said Roberts, in her second GMC appearance. “It’s in their hearts and you can really feel it. Jesus shines through them.”

“We love Southern gospel music,” David Strange said emphatically. “We’ve never been to the States — we’d love to — but I can’t describe to you how much we love the music. This [the GMC] is the biggest thing of its kind in the U.K. Being a part of it has been a magnificent privilege. Seeing people give their lives to the Lord, that’s what it’s all about — that, and seeing Jesus Christ glorified, uplifted.”
Bates is a freelance writer in Dora, Ala. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: POWER AMONG THE SCOTS, FINALE, GROWING INTO GOSPEL MUSIC, SOLDIERS IN SCOTLAND, WHEN IN SCOTLAND . . . .

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  • Judy Woodward Bates