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Church of The Good Shepherd’s Praise Team offers something different for worship

In 1998-99, the Church of The Good Shepherd was searching for people to start a “band” in the church. Tom and Suzy Park thought Pastor Williams wanted a stage band, so they were not interested.
The pastor was leaving the church that year and extra counselors were needed for their annual camp, so Tom and Suzy became involved and were put in charge of campfire music. They modernized the campfire music book with the help of Kevin Brisbin and Kristi Park.
The Parks didn’t know a lot of the songs, but with help they soon did. And realizing that their equipment needed updated, Christmas and Valentine’s Day presents were guitars and an amp.
Pastor Brinson, the Church of The Good Shepherd’s pastor at the time, wanted to start a praise team for the Summer of Praise in 2001. Tom and Suzy checked into praise music, attended a praise service at Penn State University and a Saturday coffee house/praise service at Hollidaysburg Methodist Church to learn more of exactly what a praise service consisted of.
They gathered songbooks and began to learn praise songs and currently have reached over 300 songs. At Creation-fest, they attended some workshops by contemporary Christian recording artists/praise leaders to learn more about leading others in praise.
The Summer of Praise was very well received so later that Fall the church decided to continue the praise service as a second Sunday morning service. The church had reached its seating capacity so this allowed people to choose a time and style of worship.
“We were anticipating the praise service to attract new believers and were surprised that it took off as an intense Spiritual service drawing people deeper into their faith,” said Suzy.
That is how the “One Heart” praise team started. Today, the team consists of Jeff Stine (lead singer/guitar), Suzy Park (guitar/vocals), Tom Park (bass guitar/vocals), Troy Christine (vocals), Abby Christine (vocals/percussion/dance), Pam Cunningham (vocals), Paul Miller (vocals), Laura Stine (vocals), Kristy Carper (percussion) and Katie Twigg (percussion).
One Heart performs contemporary, modern Christian music at the 11:15 a.m. service at the Church of The Good Shepherd every Sunday. The team has been performing as this type of praise band about as long as anybody in this area, and have performed at other churches in the area, as well as weddings, engagements and baptisms.
The One Heart members didn’t know what the final plan was, and they still don’t, but they say it was and is neat the way God is working within everything, and it is an evolving process.
Team member Jeff Stine said the object is that they play more contemporary, modern type songs just to offer something different from the normal hymns and organ music, offering another alternative in church for people.
“The atmosphere I can best describe is it’s laid back, some people get up and clap and dance around, some people not so much, it’s just kinda a little bit more ‘suit yourself kind of thing.’ It’s a lot more active and tries to get the people involved, excited and upbeat,” said Stine.
“There’s a lot of different people that like a lot of different music and at our service there’s people from teenagers to 80 some years of age, there’s everyone in-between, but I would say there’s probably more of a draw towards younger people,” added Stine.
He continued, “Obviously, we’re here for the same reasons, we’re in church for the same reason, but it’s just a little bit of a different style.”
Tom said that their goal is to provide a place for people who don’t necessarily have a church to come in and feel comfortable and enjoy the music, and enjoy the fellowship and the worshiping.
“It’s nice to get people in from other churches, but it’s not what it should be about as far as hop-scotching between churches, so that’s what we wanted to come out of an informal service, more upbeat, contemporary music,” added Tom.
Tom’s wife, Suzy said that everyone has their own niche and that people need to fit in where they feel comfortable, and hopefully the church and One Heart can provide just that.
One Heart is one part of the church service and the church, and they just hope to help draw people and make them feel welcomed while getting closer to God through their music. Part of what the team does is provide the lyrics to the songs they sing on a computer projector screen, so the congregation has an easier and more comforting time singing along.
“The songs we pick are praise songs and that simply means they’re singing to God, they’re singing about the Christian experience and your walk through life – it draws you right in,” said Tom.
One Heart member Paul Miller has been involved since the beginning and he said he loves praising the Lord the way they do, and he feels like worship should be a more active event as opposed to just sitting and listening.
“I enjoy being a part of the team, and I enjoy giving glory to God every Sunday through our praise and leading worship,” added Miller.
One Heart performs every Sunday at 11:15 a.m. at the Church of The Good Shepherd, following the church’s 9 a.m. service. Anyone and everyone is welcomed to experience this praise service and what the praise team has to offer.
“I think we want to usher people into the worship and when we’re up there, we’re worshiping Christ, and we want to bring Him glory – we’re facilitating that, that’s all. We’re just being used, we feel ‘called’ to do this, to help others experience that intimacy with the Lord,” ended One Heart member Pam Cunningham.