Ally Parker, left, listens in as “Sanctified” practices this past Sunday. Second from left, Abby Parker,sings for the band, Tristan Rice plays the accoustic guitar as well as sings, Kevin Slough, center, began his stint as FBC Beaver’s youth leader and manager of “Sanctified” on Jan. 1, the band listens as he gives them a few pointers. Second from right, B.J. Brown plays the bass guitar, and Tyler Welch, right, plays the eletric guitar. L&T photo/Jessica Crawford
Band gives youth way to keep fires of praise, worship burning
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
Many Baptist churches throughout the State of Oklahoma take a week out of their summer to ensure their youth groups get to experience the power of Falls Creek Baptist Assembly in Davis, Okla. Parents of youth returning home from Falls Creek notice a fire in their children from the concentrated spiritual teaching they receive at the summer church camp. Sadly, that fire often fades within several months.
Four members of the First Baptist Church of Beaver, Okla., have found a way to keep that fire burning through the power of music – their own music.
Beaver High School juniors Tristan Rice and Tyler Welch along with BHS freshman Abby Parker and Beaver junior High student B.J. Brown have used the power of their very own praise and worship band to keep their hearts as close to God as they possibly can.
“Well, after we got back from Falls Creek, Tyler and I were playing guitar for the Sunday morning service,” Rice said. “So, I said, ‘Hey, Tyler, let’s start a band.’ So, that is how it all got started.”
When Welch was presented with the idea, he believed it was something he truly needed to stay close to God, after all, Falls Creek isn’t on the agenda until the summer of 2011. So, Tyler believed a praise and worship band just might be the answer.
“Myself, personally, I don’t know about anybody else, I felt kind of a need and thought this would be pretty cool to do – to play for our church,” Welch said.
The four musicians of FBC Beaver don’t just practice from time to time simply to listen to themselves play – they share their gift.
“Once a month, we try to play for our congregation and we have played for our youth and one fifth quarter after a football game,” Rice said. “That is what we have done so far.”
A lot of thought was put into giving the band an appropriate name. After much consideration, the group dubbed themselves, “Sanctified.”
“That means to be set apart, to be used by God,” Rice said. “All of us have developed a close friendship, and we have been able to keep each other accountable through the band because when we first set it up we told each other, ‘This is something we are going to have to be serious about, we are going to have to be committed to it.’ We can’t slack off.
“We want to be in the Word of God and we want to be keeping God as our No. 1 focus and not saying, ‘Oh we have to play this Wednesday so let’s just get it over with,’” she added “We try to keep God as our No. 1 – we pray together before we play, so that helps, too.”
As high school and junior high students, the group stays extremely busy the school work and sports. But in order to remain sanctified, as their name says they are, they make time to practice their music – and that time is used very wisely.
“With our busy schedules, Sunday is really the only day we get to practice,” Rice said. “We get together and practice for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon. Then we play on Wednesdays and come back again and practice on Sunday afternoons.”
“Usually when we get to church on Wednesday, before we play for our youth group, we try to run through what we will be playing for them once or twice,” Parker added.
Each member of the band has been touched in a very special way by what they have taken on as committing to be a member of “Sanctified.”
“When I get here, I have fun,” Rice said. “I am here at church, then we have youth group after this so it keeps me connected.”
“It keeps me focused on God,” Welch said. “Like Tristan said, we do this and then there is youth group afterwards. So, it is a good little connection time. Sometimes I don’t want to come, but when I get here, I am glad I came.”
“When I have to give up time on my weekends, it kind of stinks,” Parker said. “But when I get here, that all goes away. We have a great time practicing and playing for our youth group. Also, we continue to grow closer as friends and grow closer to God. So, in the end, it benefits us all.”
“I do enjoy it and we all keep getting closer and getting better at what we are doing,” Brown said.
When electric and bass guitars are added to a worship service that has become more accustomed to organs and pianos, no one knows exactly how the change will be accepted.
“Tyler and I talked about how he never hears input from the congregations, so after we play for the congregation, he is kind of bummed because he is not sure if they like it or not,” Rice said. “But, I come to band practice and I will tell him, ‘They loved it, they thought it was awesome!’ That is really a surprise because when we first started we were concerned some of the older people in the congregation were not going to enjoy it. But, they are actually the ones that want us to keep playing and encourage us.”
The group was also met with many doubts – many felt boredom would make members drop off one by one. Not the case, Parker said.
“There were a lot of people that thought this would only last a few months – that we would get tired of it and quit,” she said. “But we are going as strong as ever.”
At the beginning of the year, not only did FBC Beaver’s youth group receive a blessing in the form of new leader Kevin Slough, but “Sanctified” also got a much needed manager.
“I have kind of inherited the management opportunity. I came from Southwest Oklahoma, a little town called Duke,” Slough said. “I was in numerous praise bands in college.”
Slough was impressed with the dedication of the group that until he showed up, had been managing themselves.
“There are not very many groups that stay together,” Slough said. “It usually is one of those things that just comes and goes. A lot of these kids are in different grades so hopefully this will carry on with the younger kids coming up behind them.
“We are going to be trying some new things when we practice,” he said with excitement. “We will be having a devotion before we practice so we can focus on why we are here. It really isn’t about the band, it is about what we can do to serve God.”