Category Archives: Inspiring Secular Music

Celebrating Celebrate

I haven’t attended worship in a church for several years. Coker used to have a contemporary service called Celebrate that met at 11 AM each Sunday. Certainly, contemporary services are my preferred style. Celebrate began as a grassroots alternative to the traditional service at Coker in the 1990s. Lauren and Amanda were the first to discover Celebrate and asked if we could go there instead of the traditional service. Because we wanted to keep them interested in church, we decided to give it a try.

In the beginning, Celebrate met in the gym. Because the walls were cinderblock and the floors were linoleum, the acoustics were terrible. However, that didn’t matter. The band played music we knew. For example, “Awesome God” and “Now Is The Time To  Worship.” We made a joyful noise sitting on those plastic stackable chairs. One of our associate pastors gave the sermon.

Celebrate 2.0

Over the next decade, Coker expanded its campus and added a new building. It was built for High school and middle school members. Importantly, they included a large room to hold worship services. The Upper Room became the permanent home of the Celebrate service. Just outside the Upper Room doors was a reception area called Higher Grounds. Worshipers could drink coffee here or take it into the service.

And greeting everyone each week was “Brother Bill” Dovali. This coal black Vietnam veteran commuted each Sunday from Fort Sam to spread joy with his infectious smile. Bill wore black and white wingtip shoes and the most colorful shirts you have ever seen.

The band was always the centerpiece of this worship experience. In addition, communion was served every week. Initially, after moving to the Upper Room, one of our associate pastors preached every week. After he left, our senior pastor shared preaching duties with other associate pastors. In its heyday, Celebrate was drawing 200 – 300 participants each week.

Leadership Changes

Ultimately, the Methodist Church replaced our senior pastor. In addition, they shut down the Celebrate service. The band members, along with many worshipers found new homes. Because Coker no longer offers a contemporary service at a convenient time I never returned.

We are having a reunion of the Celebrate service at my house tonight. The band’s Core members will be here. Also, our senior pastor from Celebrate’s glory days will be here.

One congregation favorite was Jesus Is Just Alright. Most people are familiar with the 1972 cover by the Doobie Brothers. Christian rock and hip hop band, DC Talk released this version as a single in 1992. Enjoy!

Letter to My Live Oaks

Dear Live Oak Trees;

Forgive my impatience. You seem to be taking longer this spring to emerge from your winter hibernation. I understand your need to drop acorns everywhere. After all, we have a built-in desire to procreate and leave a legacy. And obviously, you can’t grow new leaves without shedding the old. Perhaps it is my old age, but it seems to be taking you much longer than usual for your annual molting

Don’t get me started on your pollination cycle. You may think those things are flowers. But they are ugly and wreak havoc on my pool skimmers. And that yellow dust is everywhere. How much longer must I inhale these pesky allergins?

I hear your fancy Latin name is Quercus fusiformis. However, most people know you as escarpment live oak, plateau live oak, or plateau oak. 

As I pen this letter it occurs to me that you have been here a lot longer than me. Perhaps you were here when Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie were defending the Alamo. I guess that makes me the invader. So I thank you for allowing me to share this little corner of the Texas Hill country with you. Your presence is the centerpiece of my landscaping and I can’t imagine life without you.

Without You” is a song written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of British rock group Badfinger, and first released on their 1970 album No Dice. The power ballad has been recorded by over 180 artists, and versions released as singles by Harry Nilsson (1971) and Mariah Carey (1994) became international best-sellers. Paul McCartney once described the ballad as “the killer song of all time”.

Band of Brothers

I met Dave Hubin in early December 2002. We were table mates at the St. John’s table, Walk to Emmaus #1039. We didn’t seem to have much in common. He retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt Col. and Command Pilot. I would begin long-term disability on Saturday. In fact, I didn’t spend a lot of time talking with Dave that weekend. Little did we know it would be the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Following the three-day experience, we formed a small group to support each other in our ongoing walk with Christ. This reunion group, which we named Band of Brothers consisted of six members. Myself, Dave, our table leader Tim Barton, Mike Ford, Tony LoBosso, and Todd Yackley. We met for breakfast each week at 6:30 AM at Jim’s restaurant, Lp. 410 @ Broadway. Tony’s work commitments forced him to quit after a few weeks. Joe Carter replaced him and we moved our meeting location to North Central Baptist Hospital cafeteria. I can still remember those super tacos 😃🌮. Todd, a United States Air Force captain was soon transferred to South Dakota. After Joe died we started meeting for lunch at my house.

Each week we begin the meeting with an opening prayer. We then take turns discussing our spirituality from the prior week(s). Our discussion then shifts to things like our Closest to Christ moments and Calls to Discipleship. We end each of our turns with Prayers for Special Needs. Finally, we close with a prayer of Thanksgiving.

Dave has long been the heart and soul of the Band of Brothers reunion group. We seldom met when he wasn’t available. In recent years deteriorating health has made his participation exceedingly difficult. He was parliamentarian of the group. Thus appropriately he always ran the anchor leg at our meetings.

Final Farewell

I attended David’s memorial service Friday. Seems like we could have tried a little harder for one more reunion group meeting. We will miss you David as you take your final mission into the Wild Blue Yonder.