Living in Los Angeles makes for one of the greatest opportunities and one of the most difficult ones, when it comes to worship music. Since I have lived in Los Angeles (5 years now), I have never before in my life exprienced such a mass number of talented people musically. I never would have thought that the majority of worship leaders and musicians that come through our group go on to record and album and do it professionally. That’s always been good news for our college ministry as our college band has always been led by amazing musicians, some college students who pursue music as a hobby or a life vocation…while others are not your typical students, but have come out here to go to a musicians institute, etc. Regardless of how they ended up in LA, these college aged students and non-students have blessed our ministry with some amazing music, as well as amazing worship leading…doing it in humble, Godly ways.

That can be a tightrope to walk at times…trying to balance musicaly excellency, while not allowing that to overshadow the act of worship, etc. Sometimes we have probably done it right as a group, and there are probably times we haven’t…but overall, these students and worship leaders have been the key figures in teaching me about worship…teaching me about the high call of bringing God’s people before Him in musical praise.

For the five years I have been at Bel Air, I have never had to worry about our worship, or who would lead, or who would step up when that leader was gone. So I want to thank those leaders and bands for their humbleness, grace and high calling to lead worship and to do it in an excellent way.

I can mention names, but I can’t point you to everyone since not everyone has a blog, or MySpace page, website, etc. But I hope that you check out their music, because nothing has been more joyful for me as a pastor than to watch these students pursue their passion and in doing so, bless not only me and you, but God in the process.

So for the next few days or so, I want to highlight and honor those who did a very difficult job/ministry, and who did it with passion and humblness and grace.

Today I want to thank the praise band of 2002-2003, and I hope you will check out their awesome music.

When I took over as director of the group in 2002-2003 we were in a transition from one worship leader to the next, and God definitely provided. Laura Scott who was a senior at USC co-led as a worship leader with UCLA junior, Ed Rhee. They were absolutely amazing and were part of a worship album that year. Laura has one of the most amazing voices ever and when she would lead on guitar chills went through the chapel. When it comes to Ed, there are some songs that I can’t imagine anyone else singing, and his demeanor and gentleness and talent on the piano were amazing. The rest of that band was made up by Sam Knaak who recorded our worship album at his studio, EarWitness Studios. Sam is also now married to Laura. We also had an amazing drummer that year, Mark Chipello, who is now the drummer for Tyrone Wells, who has also led worship for us a few times. Rounding out that band was bassist Dave Ross who is one of the most gentle and humble guys that I know, and who is gigging out his skills everywhere. Then there was Bryan Colmery who blogs at that page and has planted a church in Santa Monica. And last, Chris, our violinist, also known as “center stage.”

You guys were amazing and we were blessed to have you lead worship. Thank you for sharing your gifts with others and helping us better enter into worship before God.

Please check out their music at their sites, because if you haven’t heard of them yet, you will be hearing about them soon.