Ties That Bind: A Service of Prayer


For those that have arrived recently to United Methodism, the current state of conflict in the United Methodist Church may only be of peripheral concern. I can certainly understand that. Much like our federal government, what we see before us in social media and television can be uncomfortable and painful. It can seem to take place a world away from our reality. It’s easy to not engage.

It’s more of a challenge for me. Except for a one-year period in seminary where I worked at a Presbyterian church, I have spent my entire life and career  learning and living grace through the eyes of John Wesley’s United Methodist Church. My friends, family, and colleagues have all come from this amazing denomination. I learned how to make music at a Methodist university. I’ve served the Annual Conference. Now I stand on the sidelines with no voice or vote. Issues and debate aside, how can I stand as a casual observer and wait for things to happen? What can I do as the church seemingly shakes itself apart?

We (Deandre Johnson, Brett Luginbill, Laura Bush, me) first began to consider preparing a worship service in January to acknowledge our brokenness. But where to start? With our variety of worship styles, we began to ponder the one significant action that all of our churches practice each week — prayer. Perhaps, it’s the most powerful one. How about a service of prayer? How about a service with no agenda except to pray? After all, it’s modeled completely by Jesus, who went off to pray in the midst of great internal conflict. Even though he ended up alone, he wanted his friends to pause and to pray with him.

Likewise, friends, come to pause and to pray with us for the United Methodist Church on Wednesday, February 20 at 7:00 PM. The choirs of First United Methodist Church Sugar Land, Christ Church United Methodist, and our choir will combine to sing, pray, praise, and share in Holy Communion. This service isn’t a rallying cry for one side or the other in this conflict. Rather, it is a reminder. Quoting a prayer from the service,  “forgive our tendency toward separation and division, and remind us that we are your Easter People.”

To view an outline of the worship service, click HERE.

Grace and Peace to You,

Matthew Robinson

Director of Fine Arts and Communication



Looking for another opportunity to pray for the church? During General Conference, you are invited to to join other United Methodists and pray each day for three minutes. Set a reminder on your phone to pray for the church.

Choir Retreat: Tumekuja Kuimba (We Have Come to Sing)

MUSIC-ministry Header 2018

Tumekuja Kuimba

One of the joys of living in Houston is our diverse community. Within five minutes of my house I can dine on any cuisine I wish. My neighborhood is a tapestry of peoples from many corners of the world. It’s truly wonderful.

Our Sunday worship services are just as diverse. Singing the songs of Christians from other countries connects us to those international people who have become part of our Sunday morning family. At no time is this more evident that on World Communion Sunday.

In 2018, World Communion Sunday occurs on October 7. Take a listen below to Tumekuja Kuimba, the wonderful anthem composed from songs heard in Nairobi, Kenya. The composer writes . . .

“African music never stands still. In North America, we go to places to sing: school, church, theater. In Africa, you sing on the way to somewhere. It’s a journey, not a destination.”

Come join us as we “sing on the way to somewhere” . . . the Chancel Choir will still be meeting this coming Saturday, July 21 from 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM. Make plans to attend the retreat . . . and plan to enter through the Groom’s Room entrance/Music Reception Area.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Tumekuja Kiumba
With free percussion and a combination of languages, Tumekuja Kiumba will have you tapping your toes and singing along. Click HERE to sing along on the journey.

Born is the King
Part of the Hillsong library of songs, Born is the King (It’s Christmas) involves children singing, choirs, instruments, and bands. Take a listen HERE.

Join in the Dance
This exciting and uplifting setting of Psalm 65 was composed for the installation of a new Methodist bishop. The theme for the service of installation was focused on dancing to the heartbeat of God. Click here to listen.

Choir Retreat: July 2018


In the past, summer has been a time to relax. Schedules would unpack a bit, vacations would be the focus of our time and moods would lighten. Even though many of us don’t have children in school anymore, our lives still have a natural rhythm, meaning summers would be time of recovery for the soul. They rhythm would be slow and comfortable.

This year . . . not so much. With FBISD changing their start time, everything seems to have compacted. Members had to scramble to get in events before the fall chaos arrived in their daily planners.  Life-happenings also played a role for many of us, including a funeral service for our dear friend Jim Pirtle.

When  I planned the choir retreat back in December, I envisioned a slower-paced summer in which we could gather and sing music in preparation for the upcoming fall and Christmas worship schedules.

In any event, the Chancel Choir will still be meeting this coming Saturday, July 21 from 8:00 AM – 10:30 PM. I will be limiting the scope of music we will cover to some of the John Rutter REQUIEM and various Fall anthems. Those will come into play in worship sooner than the Christmas pieces. However, Christmas music will be shared, albeit in a much more abbreviated fashion.

Make plans to attend the retreat . . . and plan to enter through the Groom’s Room entrance/Music Reception Area.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Anthem-Square-2018Let Music Fill Your Soul

We have several new anthems that will be a part of our choir retreat this coming Sunday. Click the link and check out this selection from Jacob Narverud called Let Music Fill Your Soul!


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I Need Thee Every Hour

Familiar hymns of the church are a staple of our anthem selections for the choir. Check out this arrangement of a very familiar hymn by Paul Bussellberg, I Need Thee Every Hour.

Anthem-3-2018 copyRemembering Decembers

Some amazing music comes from film composers. Composing under the pseudonym Pinkzebra, the composer gives a haunting recollection of Christmas past. Click here to listen.



Transforming Me: Change Beginning Now

“If you aren’t changing, you’re dying or dead.”

This past week, my friend Bill Adams announced to the mass choirs of the Fort Bend Boys Choir what Bill and I had been discussing for a bit . . . that I would not be returning as the FBBC Town Choir Director. This May will mark my final concert with this great organization. I will, without a doubt, miss the time with the organization and certainly, directing the boys.

Why the change and why now?

In the past couple of years, I have regularly found myself on Thursday afternoons exhausted at the end of a many-hour church week. I simply don’t have time to devote to the FBBC.

Couple that with being a work-a-holic, and you can see the problems I’ve personally developed — weight gain, stress, lack of focus, not enough time to dream, limited family time, Downton Abbey addiction.

Joyfully, I am in my tenth year of serving at First United Methodist Church. During that time, things have changed significantly and I’ve tried to be consistent in my work there. Some moments more successful that others, of course. Facing my limited family time, music ministry needs, increased workload, the arrival of a new dynamic Senior Pastor and my additional responsibilities in the area of Communications, I informed Bill of my intention to depart the FBBC.

No one specifically asked me to do this because of an event or a problem. In fact, I have the luxury of feeling very supported in all that I do both at home and at the church. Simply put, it’s time for me to focus and work on me and devote quality time to family, music ensembles, worship, communication and visioning.

This is the first step of a much longer journey for me.

In addition to being mentored as part of a new program, I’m deep into reading a book entitled Creativity, Inc., written by Pixar head Ed Catmull. I highly recommend this book as a way to rethink leading creative teams. Both have begun to change my thinking significantly.

Why say this on a blog? Mostly, to avoid having multiple discussions with others about why I’m leaving FBBC and what’s up with me.

I ask for your prayers during this time of personal “me-work” as I work through “me-change.”

Stop: You Are The One Who Can Help Me

As we are down a couple a staff members, I’m one of several who have picked up some extra responsibilities. I’ve been putting in extra time helping out. This is a temporary situation, but it has put me behind on some things I really must get done in my ministry areas.

So, I had it all planned. I was headed into my office at the church. I was going to get caught up on many things at the office. Yep, that was MY plan.

Stop, not so fast.

Got a call of a relative who needed help. Crisis time. Nothing really bad but certainly a crisis for them.

She said, “You were the first person I thought of. I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t know where to start. Can you help me?”

Great compliment, really . . . the skills, interests and talents that God gifted me could be the cause of relief in a crisis.

So, I stopped.

Yes, I’m still behind. Yes, I’ll be behind tomorrow. But, it will all get done. And, it felt good to stop — and to be able to render aid.

And so I pray — thank you God for helping me to stop. It was a moment of praise to you that someone thought of my skills could intervene in their crisis.

What if you were asked to stop?


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