REEL Fest 2022 showcases young Georgia Baptist musicians, singers


SNELLVILLE, Ga. – Church music has gone through many transitions through the years. Many have suffered through the transitions, because new music and different styles failed to suit their preference, but there is a beauty and power to Biblically based music that exalts the Lord. The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned, “Music is the universal language of mankind”. Few things should thrill and fascinate the mature believer more than seeing young people worshiping and singing praises to our God.

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has an effective music and worship ministry, under the gifted leadership of Rhon Carter to help churches in a variety of ways.

Carter and West Central worship and music consultant, Lee Chitwood from First Baptist Newnan as well as a team of effective musicians, college music professors and ministers of music and worship led in a Student Worship Weekend (REEL fest) at the Church on Main, Snellville on January 21-22, an event that concluded with an impressive and inspiring worship experience on Saturday afternoon.

There were four tracks for this music workshop for the middle school and high school students attending the event. The traditional choral worship was led by Ken Gabrielse, dean, and professor of music at Truett McConnell University.

The Orchestral track was led by Dr. Duane Warfield, interim Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts and Associate Professor of Music at Shorter University.  

The praise team and band track were led by Chad Todd, who is on staff at First Baptist Church in Buford, as well as John Blair, worship pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Savannah, Scott Eaton, associate pastor of music and worship at First Baptist Church in Ellijay, and Lee Hill, minister of music and senior adults at First Baptist Church in Moultrie, who all work with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board music and worship ministry as regional consultants.

Shelley Johnson, well-known Christian musician, worship leader and song writer conducted song-writing sessions for aspiring youth interesting in composing music and lyrics appropriate for worship and praise.

The students were given the opportunity to select one of the options available and spent Friday evening and Saturday morning honing their skills in their chosen track and rehearsing for the worship celebration Saturday afternoon.

Carter observed, “One of the greatest things we experienced was the comments from the students on how the skilled volunteers from around the state related to the next generation of church musicians and spoke into their hearts.”

At the Friday evening worship experience Shelly Johnson led in a time of praise and worship. Levi Skipper, Lead Strategist for GBMB church strengthening, presented a message from II Kings 18 and explained how King Hezekiah destroyed the “high places” and “idolatrous alters” in his day and restored temple worship in a way that pleased God. He emphasized, “If your life is not right, your worship will not be right.” 

In response to the message several of the attendees prayed to receive Christ and two students responded to God’s call to serve Him in Christian ministry.

The workshops ended with a beautiful celebration on Saturday afternoon that included a choir, an orchestra as well as a band and praise team. Among the songs presented by the choir and orchestra were: Soli Deo Gloria, The Blessing, My Lighthouse, Come Behold the Wonderous Mystery and Thank You Jesus for the Blood. Carter glowingly reported,” It was a great experience. Our weekend looked like many of our wonderful churches in Georgia that worthily praise the Lord Sunday after Sunday.”

When an individual has trusted Christ and realizes that he has been lifted out of the miry clay and set upon a sure foundation, been forgiven of his sins, becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, placed in the family of God and has a sure reservation for eternity in heaven, he has every reason to sing and celebrate the goodness of God and no excuse is good enough to keep him silent when it is time to praise the Lord. It is good that these students are learning that at an early age.