I Am a Mender: Brian.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Jeremiah 29:11

I am a Mender.

Stevie Wonder. Bishop Hezekiah Walker and LFC. The Clark Sisters. Justin Timberlake. PJ Morton. Pastor John P. Kee. Jesus. I’m musically inspired to talk about life, faith and Jesus, and the aforementioned people played a major part in my musical formation from my childhood to, now as a young adult, worship leader, servant, songwriter and worshipper.

I am originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina and I grew up in a Christian home where my grandparents raised me. I attribute most of my spiritual formation to my grandmother, the late Mother Joyce A. Bryant. I grew up in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN), where in the four walls of East Russell Street Church of God and North Ramsey Street Church of God, I learned what music was and how it mattered to me as a Christian.

I am a part of Menders because I believe that what we do: the worship, the reconciliation, the journey, the music

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and Jesus.

Where I am in Christ and life, as a 27 year old man, is not where I thought I’d be. Currently, I am getting to know God more and more. After receiving a seminary education at Duke Divinity School, my passion for music was renewed. The summer after graduating from seminary, I found out about a music internship through a fellow classmate. The internship was hosted by Making a Melody, LLC and East End

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Fellowship Church out of Richmond, VA. I had been praying for an opportunity like this because I was serious about pursuing music as a profession. During this summer long internship, my passion for music, songwriting and producing were re-ignited. Appropriately called the “Urban Congregational Songwriting Internship,” that internship (in the summer of

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2011), also challenged me to think more about other types of music outside of Gospel and Christian contemporary.

I grew up on many types of music including Gospel, Classical, Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop to name most. Could a Christian be a faithful witness while singing other genres/styles of music outside of Gospel/CCM (Christian Contemporary Music)? Could a Christian do both “Christian-based” music and “secular” music?

Because I grew up in a household that listened to all types of music namely Soul/R&B, Jazz, Country and Gospel, I did not see a separation between the “secular” and “sacred music,” until I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, and threw all of my R&B CDs away. I had heard somewhere in my church and early-Christian walk, that listening to “secular” music was unacceptable. This was all reversed when I graduated from seminary, and saw “worship” music in a broader sense.

Worship music did not just include the worship songs we sang on Sunday morning, in church services or on the gospel radio station. Worship included songs about life, love, relationships and commentary about societal issues plaguing our world and communities today. My viewpoint about worship and “worship” music definitely goes against the “sacred-secular” divide, as well as pushes to re-define what music is and how it is to be used. I am no less “saved.” Nor am I a Christian who is straddling the fence.

Being a part of Menders challenges me to re-think worship altogether and what it looks like to different people, from different backgrounds

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and traditions who have one thing in common—the love of worshipping God.