Salvation and ministry decisions underscore impact of SURGE Music Camp


ROME, Ga. — Seven students made salvation decisions and 39 answered the call to ministry at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s SURGE Music Camp held last month at Shorter University in Rome.

Nearly 400 people, including students and teachers, gathered for the event. Rhon Carter, the Board’s worship and music catalyst, said 30% of the almost 300 students were attending for the first time.

Describing the camp’s atmosphere, Carter said, "At SURGE Music Camp, I witness kids and students discovering their tribe—people who share their love for music and Jesus.” He added, “They experience an incredible community that nurtures their passion and prepares them to become the future and current leaders of worship and music in Georgia Baptist churches.”

Carter stressed the importance of this year’s theme, “Calling out the Called.” Noting that there is a current shortage of music leadership in Georgia Baptist churches, he said, “My prayer is for the Lord to raise up 1,000 new worship leaders in the next 10 years.”

The camp is a huge event, requiring more than 100 adult staff and volunteers. This year, 65 Georgia Baptist churches were represented, 19 for the first time.

Dr. Bryan McDonald, Director of Choral Activities and Coordinator of Music and Worship Leadership at Shorter, said the Shorter School of Fine and Performing Arts loves hosting Georgia Baptist students “to grow in their spiritual walk and musical ability.“

During the camp, in addition to classes on music and technology, students gathered nightly for worship and Biblical teaching.

Many of the students commented on camp’s focus on spiritual growth. Zachary Colquitt, 19, an eight-year veteran of SURGE from Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens, said he, “felt a true spirit of worship, and was able to give up everything I had to God.”

Brayson Dean, 18, attends Blacks Creek Baptist Church in Commerce and is in his third year at the camp. He enjoyed learning from the great teachers “about the variety of music and the musical environment.” He added that the camp inspired in him a “hunger for the presence of God,” and that he was particularly struck by a sermon from Samuel about hearing the call to ministry.

Parents as well as students described the impact of SURGE. Mandy Young, a member of Christ Place Church in Flowery Branch and whose son Tucker attended the camp, said, “My son is a rising junior and had an amazing week learning how to be a better musician and use his talents for God.” She explained that Tucker was “able to be with like-minded kids who have answered the call to use their gifts to glorify the Lord.  We are grateful for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board placing a priority on raising the next generation of worship leaders.”

Year after year, students whose lives were enriched as campers return as volunteers to train and teach following generations. One of those is Brandon Lewis, a former camper who currently leads worship at Warren Baptist in Augusta. “The experience of this camp is one of a kind,” Lewis said. “Nowhere do you get to be around so much talent, so much ability, but also so much humility and love. This is why we do what we do as music ministers and worship leaders, for the next generation of the church all to the glory of God.”