by Michael Edgar Myers, Founding Director
When speaking of worship leaders we often restrict the phrase to an individual who plays an instrument or two, organizes the music, runs the rehearsal, plans the Order of Service, perhaps conducts the congregational sing-a-along, and perhaps solos on numerous songs.
We learned along ago that a leader of worship is more than this, may or may not have musical gifts, and recognizes that worshipping God is not confined to a timed-music presentation during a Service of Worship. Worship is a way of life.
Michelle Perez-Campbell is a leader of worship.
It's our pleasure to have Michelle as part of our Kingdom Impact Theater Ministries ensemble, and to celebrate her birthday today (June 13th) by thanking God for the gift of her presence.
"Meech" was instrumental in KIT expanding into worship music from our purely theatrical beginning.
We met Meech when she was a high school student at our church. Although long-time residents of our community, her family (parents, a big sister and younger brother) seemed to appear at church on Sunday. A new high school student with a gift of evangelism led the family , en masse, to the Lord and through the doors of the church. They all sang, and Meech occasionally was involved in the drama ministry. That's how Kingdom Impact Theater, a branch of the church's Christian Education ministry, got involved and forever changed her life.
We cast Meech as Mary in a Christmas production. We cast a reticent sound technician and occasional musician, Justin Campbell, as Joseph. They had few lines; maybe none; but rehearsals helped them build on a friendship that had begun in student ministries. "Mary" and "Joseph" have been married 15 years.
And we helped.
Moving Right Along
When the church was transition from choir-led to ensemble-led musical worship, different combinations of singers were employed.
Now in her early 20s, Meech was paired with two other choir members -- Vikki J. Myers and Carla Brown -- to lead as a trio. Vikki, whose background is in musical theater, was experienced engaging the audience. Carla, who'd married and become a mom a few times since college graduate, was looking for outlets to use lessons from her undergraduate degree in musical theater. Like the other ladies, Meech came from a family of naturally gifted musicians, and was developing a passion to become a choir director.
Each woman had a unique style: As women with young families the trio hit it off. They also found their unique vocal styles -- Vikki's eclectic gospel jazz improvisations, Carla's above-the-charts sopranos, and Meech's operatic altos -- harmonized well, especially with the guidance of Garlan Garner, a pianist borrowed from a sister church. They blended so well that after their one-time Sunday worship leading presentation, they looked for additional opportunities to present as a worship trio again.
There were some repeat worship-leading opportunities at the church, and when they were invited to headline at a women's Christmas outreach, Vikki, Carla and Meech figured they needed a name. That's how they organized as Chos3n, after discovering their original appellation, G3, had already been used by a group. For graphic interpretation Chos3n is for Chosen 3, meaning three women chosen to serve The LORD through song.
Unlike The Supremes, the original Chos3n has not disbanded, and reunites when possible. In fact, if Carla's youngest son, Cameron, has his way, he'll arrange for a permanent method to collect their harmonies for broader audiences. Returning to Chicagoland after his recent high school graduation, Cameron, unprompted, crooned an idea that may be in his post-secondary plans: "I think Chos3n should record!"
The idea isn't just the whimsical idea of a son trying to get brownie points from his mom. Cameron has been an award-winning, sought-after high school theater student, who was offered performance scholarships from universities across the country. He made his college decision, in part, based upon possibilities to learn producing skills as well as performance techniques.
We're not sure if Cameron's zeal to record Meech and the gang is because he's eager to become a producer, or has residual thanks for having been the ring-bearer at her wedding.
"Center of My Joy" by Chos3n
Worship in the Family
Whatever the reason, were Cameron or anyone to produce such a project, it would need to include a Spanish-language duet or two for Meech and Carla.
Meech is Mexican; Carla is African-Hoosier, who teaches bilingual public school education outside of Dallas. They have done Spanish-English duets live for KIT, and learned from Vikki how to engage an audience through musical worship.
Yet, while their musical gifts are publicly acclaimed, more notable -- though less visible -- is each woman's ability to infuse worship in their daily activities at work and home. Between them, Chos3n are the mothers of 10 children. They have infused scripture in their child-rearing, and bring scriptural principles to their workplaces through interaction, not indoctrination.
Besides work, the ladies extend the concept of worship to discipling other women. Meech has particularly taken this concept to heart through church small groups, and especially by providing part-time employment for a KIT college intern, with whom she's also developed a mentoring-confidant relationship.
It is through conversations about colleagues and parenting that Michelle's worship leading ideas live, and it's a family affair. Her parents oversee a church plant in Tennessee; her brother leads musical worship at a church in Downstate Illinois; her sister carries her witness across the globe as a renowned opera singer. So when Meech brings ideas about music sets as the KIT singers are brainstorming and improvising in the living room, or even in connecting with congregations from the platform during a Service of Worship presentation, the music is only a further outlet for the praise that's been going on 24-7.
And that's what a worship leader actually does, whether there's music or not.
So, for demonstrating this, and for all He has done for our ministry through Michelle Perez-Campbell, we say to The LORD, "Feliz cumpleanos! Meech, us gracias."
The KIT 'n' Kaboodle Blog
The essays here are culled from our travels, conversations, worship experiences and discoveries.
Many are reprints from our newsletter, The KIT 'n' Kaboodle, or Facebook notes over time.
They're written by our ensemble, Garlan Garner, Michael Edgar Myers or Vikki J. Myers -- solo, or collectively.