From the first time I saw his name appear on the NQC schedule, I couldn’t wait until the Tuesday morning Chapel Service. So, when my alarm went off that morning, I didn’t hesitate to get up, enjoy a cup of tea on the cabin’s back porch and get ready for the day. A few hours later, I’d hear Dr. Jerry Vines speak in person for the first time…
I’ve had several friends say that the best part of NQC are the chapel services. Though I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite part of the week, I gotta agree that the chapel services are the perfect way to start the day. Every day, an opening group sings for about 20 – 30 minutes and then a guest speaker preaches for about 30 minutes. Tuesday morning, Tribute Quartet sang a few songs that prepared the crowd for the preaching to follow. They closed their set with “When The Prodigal Comes Home,” a song I never tire of hearing. But, before Dr. Vines came on to preach, another group took the stage to sing a special request – Greater Vision with their tune, “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is!”
When Dr. Jerry Vines came on stage and announced the topic he was speaking on, the meaning behind GV’s special request was obvious. The message would be on the importance of the Bible in a Believer’s life. Dr. Vines introduced his topic by sharing his personal experience with the Bible as a boy, and even sang a chorus of the B-I-B-L-E! That morning, he had three points he wanted to make about the Word…
The Intention of the Bible
The Inspiration of the Bible
The Implications of the Bible
Throughout his sermon, he encouraged Believers to spend time in the Bible because it was intended to give us wisdom in times of doubt and hope in times of crisis. The line that stood out to me most was, “Wherever you open the Bible to, Jesus is everywhere.” When he brought his sermon to a close, he encouraged everyone to be in or find a church where the pastor preaches the word. He said, “You may be tempted to say, ‘But I don’t like the way they do this!’ I don’t care how they do it, just as long as they preach the Word…” At the very end, he closed the morning the same way he opened it, with a simple chorus of, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the Book for me…”
SGMA Induction and Benefit Concert
At 1:30 PM, the SGMA hosted their induction and benefit concert for the Class of 2018 Inductees. This year, there were two inductees in the deceased category: Norman Wilson (Primitive Quartet) and Tracy Stuffle (Perrys), and two in the living category: Ann Downing (soloist) and Mark Trammell (Mark Trammell Quartet). The concert began with performances by Jonathan Wilburn, The Guardians and Karen Peck & New River.
The first inductee honored Tuesday was Norman Wilson, who spent many years with the Primitive Quartet. As Jerry Goff (the afternoon’s host) brought the family and Primitive Quartet on stage, he made a simple statement that’s so true of the group, “The thing I like the most, is their love for Jesus.” The Primitive Quartet sang “My Hope Is In The Blood,” and then Reagan and Norman’s wife spoke a few words in remembrance of the legacy he left behind. I really liked what Reagan said about Norman’s life in ministry. “He loved this music and the people,” said Reagan, “He was the first one off the bus and the last one on; and he always wore that smile.”
The second inductee was Ann Downing, who sang with the Speer Family in the ‘60’s and then went on to form The Downings with her husband, Paul, in the ‘70’s. Ann spoke of how her life had its ups and downs. “When Paul passed away,” she said, “I thought that God made His first mistake.” But through it all, Ann found Him faithful and went on to continue singing with a successful solo career. Before leaving the stage, the Hoppers came on stage to sing “After A While” for her. Then, Ann joined them!
Third to be inducted was Tracy Stuffle. After the touching tribute the night before, I knew tears would be flowing before long in this segment. The Stuffle family had gone through so much, yet, had remained so faithful. As Libbi shared about Tracy’s life, you caught a small glimpse of his character. My favorite was when she shared how he couldn’t resist helping a group when their bus broke down. “He would go out in his suit, his singing suit,” emphasised Libbi, “and get under that bus. I would ask him to change or put coveralls on before going out, but he wouldn’t listen. I asked him, ‘Why won’t you change first? Those are expensive clothes.’ and he would say, ‘I’m not worried about it, God will bless and bring it back to us.’ That was Tracy. He always wanted to help.”
Last to be inducted was Mark Trammell, leader of the Mark Trammell Quartet and 44 year veteran in Gospel Music. As he and his family walked on stage, his son, Nick, stepped up to the platform to speak on his father’s life in ministry. Afterwards, Gerald Wolfe spoke of Mark’s consistency in life, ministry and music, and how they have become like brothers down through the years. Arthur Rice slipped the medal over Mark’s head and then Mark said a few words. Just before the track queued for the Mark Trammell Quartet to sing their song, “Too Much To Gain To Lose,” Mark wiped at his eyes. It was a special moment that touched both those on and off stage.
In the evening, I went in to see several groups sing on Main Stage. The first was around 6:30 PM, and as I walked in Andy Stringfield (Kingdom Heirs) was finishing up a fast solo on the grand piano. By the time I maneuvered to the area of the room I wanted to be on for the next artist, Josh Franks, who was the emcee that night came on stage and talked to the crowd. He brought to mind a great quartet of the past, The Master’s V. “We have a group here tonight that’s the Master’s V of our generation,” said Josh, “Make welcome, The Second Half Quartet!” As the applause died down, Chris Allman, Mark Trammell, Rodney Griffin and Pat Barker began singing “Far Above The Starry Sky,” with Gerald Wolfe at the piano. They sang another towards the “front” of the stage before moving to the side for their third tune. While Mark moved his mic stand in position, Gerald talked to the crowd and explained why the Second Half Quartet was leaving the road after this year. When they were ready for their next tune, Gerald reminded the guys that it began a’cappella – hinting that they should begin. Mark began, “W-e-l-l…” Then Chris exclaimed, “I gave him the wrong word!” and everyone laughed. After a few chuckles, Mark sang the correct word, “now,” and they launched into “Cheer The Weary Traveler.” Second Half finished up their set with “Thanks To Calvary” and the popular song, “Wedding Music.”
Before the next group, there was a short segment called, “The Confused Quartet.” Jim Brady was in charge of this time slot and true to the spirit of the moment, Jim came on stage acting “confused.” Claiming that he couldn’t get in touch with any of the artists he texted to be a part of this moment, he called on the artists still seated around the artist circle to help him out. In a few moments, Chris Allman, Susan Whisnant and Nick Trammell were on stage and deciding who would sing what part on the classic, “Winging My Way Back Home.” As Susan Whisnant pulled up the words on her phone, Chris was allotted the bass part, Jim sang lead, Susan was given baritone and Nick sang tenor. It truly was a fun moment!
After the “Confused Quartet,” Jeff and Sheri Easter came and took the stage with, “Life Is Great and Gettin’ Better;” one of their signature songs. Their following tune featured Jeff’s cousin, Jared, who travels and plays steel guitar with them. (And a whole bunch of other instruments!) Jared had written a song about his son, who’s about four years old. It was called, “Until I Loved You,” and spoke of how his love for his son changed the way he thought of the Heavenly Father’s love for us. The last tune I stayed for Sheri’s solo, “Wayfaring Stranger,” and then I slipped out into the hallway for a few minutes.
I came back in Main Stage to hear the McKameys at nine o’clock. Just before convention, the family released that they would be leaving the road in 2019, and I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I had to see them in person. They began their set with “I Could Go On and On” and “Unspoken Request.” Peg explained how Sheryl wrote a song about Ephesians chapter three, and that one, “Be Brave,” was their next song. Their closing song was “There Is Jesus.” After the last chorus, Peg exclaimed, “What a song!” then began the encore that would send her shoes flying across the stage in true Peg fashion.
Conclusion: What a day! It was still early in the week, but the day held several moments I won’t forget. The first, of course, was hearing Dr. Jerry Vines preach. After his sermon, I was able to get in line at his product table to meet him and get my picture. (Once again, a shout out to the folks behind me who were kind enough to take the pic for me!) The SGMA induction concert was also a highlight. Here, I’ll add my congratulations to all the inductees in the Class of 2018 – all were very deserving! How quickly the day went by! One moment your walking through the front doors for chapel and the next, the evening concert is half over!