It was some twelve years ago that a group of Open Circle folks gathered one evening in the home of Faye Lefever to interview applicants for the position of music director. The church was still in the planning stages; we were several months away from holding our first public worship service and the time had come to find someone with music skills to join our team.
What was fresh on my mind that evening was the music I experienced serving the church I had just come from in Ohio. I loved the church but not the music program, and I vowed to myself that never again would I be part of a church experience where every Sunday was a musical adventure. So we convinced the district committee that was overseeing our new church project that we needed to budget enough money to hire a talented musician.
Todd Lines was one of four that we interviewed that evening. He will tell you that his first impression of me was that I looked like a conservative evangelical. He informed us almost immediately in the interview that he was gay; he wanted us to know that up front, and I suspect he wanted to test us to see how "liberal" we really were. We assured him it wasn't a problem. The interview went well enough, but when he moved to the piano to play and sing we knew our search was over. His piano skills and voice were awesome.
Not once in twelve years of leading worship with Todd have I ever had to worry about what we were going hear in music. In fact, it is fair to say that on more than a few Sundays Todd has carried me and the worship. His musical gifts have consistently enhanced our worship and lifted our spirits. But the real gift that Todd has given us over the years is the sharing of his life. Through the years he has shared his joys and struggles, stories about his past, his thoughts on the issues of the day, and we have laughed and smiled and been moved to tears, and he has helped us deepen our spiritual lives and our community ties. Open Circle would not be what it is today were it not for Todd's presence. I am deeply grateful that he has shared his gifts and life with us over the years.
This Sunday will be Todd's last Sunday as our music director. He is not leaving our community but is freeing himself of the weekly responsibilities of music leadership so he can pursue other professional dreams and to be able to spend more time with his parents. We wish him nothing but the best and look forward to future Sundays when he shares special music. I hope you will join our community this Sunday in saying thank you to Todd in our worship service and in the potluck meal that follows.