JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 13, 2012 – A trip to Montana for the Tennessee Baptist Men’s Chorale gave group members to share their talent and the gospel message through music in a place far from home.
It also gave a sizeable group of Union University alumni an opportunity to fellowship together and reminisce about their time at the university.
Of the 40-something ministers of music and others from Tennessee Baptist churches who participated in the trip, about a dozen were Union University graduates. That fact exemplifies Union’s commitment to local churches, according to Ricky Clark, minister of music at West Jackson Baptist Church and a 1979 graduate.
“Union has been very faithful, I think, through its history to try and maintain a connection to the local church in multiple ways,” Clark said. “I think that speaks very highly of Union, because this is a day where there’s a pulling back in a lot of institutions.”
The men’s chorale, under the direction of TBC worship specialist Paul Clark (a Union graduate) went to Montana to lead the music for the state convention’s annual meeting there in early October. As part of the trip, the group also held concerts in other Baptist churches in the state and even gave impromptu performances in restaurants on occasion.
One time the group encountered a crew from a local TV station at a McDonald’s and ended up doing a performance that aired on the station.
“At every meal, Union would be discussed by these guys,” said Tommy Moore, of First Baptist Church in Dresden, who serves as a Union trustee. “What they would talk about was their own experiences at Union and the professors under whom they studied.
“I think it’s wonderful that they’ve kept that connection to Union, and that Union made an impact on them that is lasting,” Moore continued. “They have not strayed from their calling. They’re still excited about serving the Lord. They’re willing to go the extra mile in order to share the evangelistic message with the world.”
Moore said the group met Eleanor Arbaugh, a 1960 Union graduate, during the trip. She was a messenger to the annual meeting.
Henry Simpson, minister of music and education at First Baptist Church in Huntingdon and a 1981 Union graduate, was part of the Montana group and said he always enjoys an opportunity to spend time with others connected with the university.
“When I was at Union I knew that the guys I was rubbing shoulders with were the guys I was going to be ministering with forever,” Simpson said. “Union was the place to go if you were looking to do church music. The guys that we were there with, we remain close friends to this day. When we see each other, we’ve immediately got a common bond of Union that we can talk about.”