More than 1,200 attendees gathered on Tuesday evening to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Singing Men of Texas [SMOT], providing a beautiful ending to the 130th Annual Meeting for Texas Baptists. Hosted by Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church, in Allen, the concert featured 275 singers, with representatives from all six regional chapters.
Musical selections ranged from "Who Can Satisfy My Soul," by Jernigan, to "Your God Will Come" by Fielding/Morgan/Williamson.
Jay Ghormley, conductor from SMOT South, shared about the mission work of the combined choirs over the past 40 years, including their most recent trip to Ukraine in April. On the 12-day trip, the choir performed 10 concerts in eight cities, accompanied by Texas-based evangelist Michael Gott. Performances reached 14,000 attendees, with over 7,500 people making written commitments to learn more about God and become followers of Christ. Due to the overwhelming response to the Gospel, a contemporary country band will travel to Ukraine in April 2016, and a trip is planned for April 2017 by SMOT North Central.
Brent Edwards, interim director of Music and Worship for Texas Baptists, expressed gratitude for the men who have invested in this ministry over the years.
"Things like this don't happen unless you have great leaders and men of faith," Edwards said.
According to Edwards, Dr. Sam Prestidge, in particular, embodies the impact SMOT had on music and worship throughout the state. Prestidge established SMOT in 1975, and the subsequent six regional chapters. He also began the Texas Baptist All-State Choir in 1976, Texas Baptist All-State Band in 1978 and Texas Baptist All-State Strings in 1994.
"Sam helped us to see the real life, real world of ministers of music," Edwards said.
A special offering was taken during the concert to invest in the Sam and Geneva Prestidge Endowment Fund which has been established to enable persons to fulfill his or her calling from God in worship and music.
"This endowment will provide outstanding training opportunities and mission endeavors as well as crucial networking and fellowship opportunities for the next generation of church musicians," Edwards said.
Christian speed painter, Lance Brown, painted a piece during the concert, as the men sang the Ukrainian Alleluia. Brown accompanied the men on their recent Ukrainian mission trip.
Prestidge provided a touching close to the concert by conducting the final piece "At the Name of Jesus" written by Cindy Berry, who was also in attendance, with her husband, Bruce, singing in the choir.