FAIRMONT, W.V. (BNc) by Jonathan Hinckley — Some of the campers first assembled to sing were unable to continue, moved to tears by the beautiful sound. They were touched not just by hearing the beautiful sound, but upon seeing the earnestness and devotion of those who were singing. One person characterized the group of Christians gathered there as “a unique combination of talent and humility.”
West Virginia Christian Youth Camp hosted its first annual Singing Emphasis Week July 28-Aug. 3 for ages 12-18.
WVCYC is a Christian youth camp that hosts several weeks of fellowship and Bible learning each summer, including weeks for different age groups and a sports week, dedicated to the growth of Christian sportsmanship through biblical teaching. This year, for the first time, Singing Emphasis week was added.
Campers were treated to a full schedule of Bible classes dealing with biblical teaching on singing, as well as practical classes on such topics as songleading, music theory, and songwriting.
The staff was made up of many preachers and teachers, several of them expert musicians, and camp counselors who dedicated their full time to the teenagers attending, and to the young children of the staff as well (affectionately called “staff brats.”)
Throughout the week several new songs were presented, all written by saints who were present at the camp to introduce their own songs. Devotionals were presented by several preachers based on both the new songs and on famous gospel songs of the past.
The new songs written by members of the church were powerful declarations of faith, and reminders of how few of the songs in our songbooks (since most were written by people with a denominational background) actually mention such important topics as baptism and the church. Not so at Singing Emphasis camp!
Here we heard such songs as,
- “What are you waiting for, Get up and be baptized!” (from Acts 22:16),
- “Manifold Wisdom of God” (“He has made known by the church”, from Ephesians 3:10),
- “The church of Christ forever shall stand, A house not made by human hands”,
- “I love you Lord, So I want to be baptized, And wash my sins away!”, and
- “The Gospel Stands Alone”.
One song even quoted 1 Corinthians 6, in a song that will probably never become popular in today’s world: “Do you not know that the fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God? And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, You were sanctified, made clean in His blood!”
The idea for Singing Emphasis week began with Andy Robison, a gospel preacher who was recently appointed director of the West Virginia School of Preaching.
Andy credits his teenage experience at WVCYC as being a turning point in his life, when he realized the importance of being an active Christian. After studying music in college, Andy began to write spiritual songs and hymns, and he soon developed into a prolific songwriter. To date he has written over 50 gospel songs that are being sung by many congregations.
Wanting to give back to the camp that helped him so much, Andy assembled many of the campers, staff, and friends of WVCYC to record a CD of some of those new songs, with the idea of raising support for the camp.
Recorded at Sounds Incredible Music Studios, owned by two saints, Greg and Michael Yost, these CDs are now released every two years, and are used to help raise money for the continued upkeep of the camp.
One Saturday per month friends of the camp come together to record a few more songs for the next CD. Directed by brother Andy, these recording sessions became a magnet for like-minded Christians who wished to serve the church and her young people through song. Through God’s providence, a powerful but humble group was forming, one that would create the perfect conditions for the beautiful spiritual singing of Singing Emphasis week.
Michael Yost and Andy Robison, co-directors of this week of camp, wrote the theme song for the week, “A Lyrical Message of Love,” a song about the beauty of Christian singing: “There’s a lyrical message of love, And a melody in my heart; Let me share it with you so you can sing along, And that’s when the harmony starts.”
More songs by Michael Yost and Andy were presented, along with songs by Christian songwriters Michael Carpenter, Andrew Robison V (Andy’s son), Effie Bunner Hale, J. Randal Matheny, and someone new to attend WVCYC, Jonathan Hinckley.
Jonathan, preacher with the Temple City church in the Los Angeles area, discovered Andy’s songs on his website, then sent some of his own songs to Andy, and a great friendship was born. Both brothers were concerned with writing songs for the next generation of the Lord’s church that would be doctrinally distinctive—songs that would not just be popular praise songs, but also songs that would truly bring the Word of God to the listener, both teaching and admonishing.
Jonathan, like Andy, had begun to assemble songbooks written by himself and by other saints, both in English and Spanish.
Jonathan traveled all the way from California to teach the songwriting class, along with his two young sons, who are also using their singing talents to serve the Lord in his church.
And so a “perfect storm” of songwriters in the brotherhood, and some of the most talented singers in the West Virginia/Ohio area, along with over 40 young campers who “came to sing”, all converged on one spot in West Virginia—and God was glorified!
Several campers were baptized throughout the week, inspired by the powerful messages of the gospel, both spoken and in song. And Joseph Hinckley was baptized in California after returning home.
Both young campers and adult staff alike spoke of the great encouragement they received from the weekend, and pledged to share both the practical knowledge they had gained, and the joy and encouragement they had received, with their home congregations. To God be the glory! (Ephesians 3:20-21)