Among the variety of worship
ministers we’ve enjoyed over the years, most recently SCC has been blessed by Emily
Raymond and Dave Chalupsky, along with Myrna Trathen in a supporting role. Here
are some of their thoughts on what it’s been like to lead the congregation in
How did you get connected at Sunset?
About three years ago I was unexpectedly unemployed. While
looking for full time work to support my family I came across an ad for a part
time music worship leader position at sunset covenant Church. I had been a
volunteer worship team member for over 30 years at a Catholic Church so I
thought perhaps I might have some experience that would be useful. When I
applied I was called by pastor Mary to come in for an interview. She and I
immediately connected and she asked me to attend a service, meet some of the
members, and be interviewed by some of the others in the worship team. I was
warmly welcomed by everyone I met and I felt as if I belonged among them.
How or when did you start leading worship?
After I meet with the other worship team members, they all
voted anonymously to allow me to have the position as worship leader. I started
in March of 2014.
What are some of the joys and challenges of being a worship
I have always felt that "He who sings prays
twice." I love being a guide for people to pray with music. It gives them
the opportunity to express themselves in an artistic and more personal way. The
challenges I've faced had been learning a lot of new music and assimilating a
new branch of the church.
Do you have a favorite worship song that you've led at
There's been so many songs I've led that I really love it's
hard to just name one. Some songs that truly touch my heart are: "Only in
God," "In His Presence," "I Can Only Imagine," and
"One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)."
What's one thing that you want people to know about you,
that maybe they might not know?
I discovered my love for music much later in life than I
would have liked. My immediate family was not very musical but rather very
sporty. I grew up playing basketball before I learned how to play the guitar.
One I discovered I could branch away from the family norm and try my own thing,
I was able to finally grow in my love for music.
How did you get connected here?
The previous FT worship leader had been here for awhile, and
the church had gone through some major changes at the time, I knew a mutual
friend who recommended me to that worship leader. I didn't think initially I
would be a good fit because I travel a lot, but I was willing to step in and
help out any way I could, and so I did that for awhile, for about five months
or so, before Emily started on.
How would you describe your role as a worship leader?
It's only been in the last few years that I've been leading,
before that it was mostly being in the band, singing background a bit here and
there. I'd been doing that since around 2002 or so, But then in the last few
years I started leading at smaller events and services here and there.
What's something that you're really proud of, or that you're
really passionate about?
I'd been playing secular music decades before I was ever a
part of a worship team, and then once I started, it clicked, and I realized --
ohh.... this is what I've been doing this for. I'd had played bluegrass on
guitars and banjos since high school, and being in a worship team was the first
time I'd ever played with drums. It was a change of pace from my acoustic/folk
What do you value most
about being a part of the worship ministry?
I have been a part of church worship ministry for about 65
years, some of it behind a mic, some of it behind a piano, some behind a
keyboard, some in expressive arts, and some of it with choirs. The thing I
value most in looking back is the sense of team----working together musically,
spiritually, and logistically with the worship leadership team to effectively
take people with us into the presence of God.
But it doesn't stop there. There
is also an astonishing sense of partnering with God in whatever it is he is
doing with the people present. When I first started leading worship years ago,
I was concerned about following his leading and was worrying to him as I was
actually in the act of leading. He simply said, "Open your eyes, look
around and see where I am and what I am doing in the room and go with
that." And there is where the third component of worship teamwork comes
in---partnering with the people in the chairs in what we are all experiencing
of God. I love love love the teamwork.
Is there a particular
song, project or event you’re particularly proud of having participated in?
I participated for close to 10 years with the worship team
led by one of my best friends (young enough to be my daughter and a lot like
Emily 🤗 ) . We did a yearly concert which was
phenomenal---small community (4000 people), but we had a full band, a 30 voice
worship choir, visual arts components, and packed the house (250+ capacity) for
two nights every year. This was amazing in and of itself, but my friend,
Rosemary, has one of the best understandings of the purpose of worship of
anyone I know and she is enormously gifted in working with people also. So the
goal was to prepare the best, most creative way of partnering with God to bring
people into his presence - to impact them with his love, joy, and hope - many
of whom did not attend church anywhere, and many of which had given up on/been
hurt by church.
I played keyboard mostly, because of the number of pianists we
had available, and I had a blast figuring out what sounds and notes would
enhance what everyone else was doing. Also, because I had a decent ear and
heard all the parts, I ended up being the mechanic that could see what needed
to be fixed musically to make it work right or better. Frankly, I hated living
in Coquille, but I would do it all over again just for the blessing of God that
this whole worship experience with the people down there was to me. We started
from scratch and built the team, which is one of the things I also love to do
--- to watch and help people develop, whether musically, spiritually,
mathematically (my grandson 😋 ), or whatever.