Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mall Outreach

Carla and I met right around this time of year, 22 years ago. We were both part of a very large Vineyard church in Denver. This church was blessed with a lot of musicians, who were constantly being matched up in various combinations for worship services, conferences and outreach events. Carla is a keyboardist/vocalist and I played bass.

One of the worship leaders at the church was Jude Del Hierro. Jude is probably best known for writing the song "More Love, More Power". He used to put together worship "teams" to play music at homeless shelters, prisons, etc. (in fact, I think he still does this). He also oversaw the "mall outreach" every Christmas. "Mall outreach" consisted of putting together a worship band to perform at various shopping malls. We would play Vineyard worship songs (which, back in the 80's were pretty cutting-edge) and interleave them with Christmas Carols. Christmas carols are hard to play, by the way! They have lots of chords and chord changes on nearly every beat. By contrast, Vineyard worship songs usually had only three or four chords which repeated over and over and over and over.

Anyway, both Carla and I had been tapped to do "mall outreach". It was during this time that we first began to speak to each other (we were both terribly shy!). Another musician on the team was a guitarist named John Toyne. Toyne was a great electric guitar player and had a wicked, dry sense of humor. He was known for cracking out acerbic one-liners with his sandpaper-like voice. Both Jude and Toyne were a few years older than me and I was slightly in awe of them.

The "mall outreach" that is most permanently fused into my memory is the time we played at Lakeside Mall in Denver. The worship band--drums, bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, saxophone, keyboards, three or four vocalists--was crammed in a space between Santa's Workshop on one side and Frosty's Winter Wonderland on the other. We were in the midst of our set, playing a heartfelt Vineyard worship song, swaying with eyes closed, when I felt Toyne lean against me and cock his head next to my ear. "Hey", whispered a raspy voice, "Frosty melted for your sins."


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