Posted on : Sunday March 1, 2009

By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent

LAUREL, Md.—First, Laurel, is bringing in the nation’s top worship leaders for an all day training event created specifically for worship leaders, worship team members and worship enthusiasts followed by a special celebration concert on Friday, March 20.

The cost is $55 per ticket, which includes practical and motivational worship training from noon to 5:15 p.m. followed by an evening celebration concert at 7 p.m. The day of the conference the tickets will be $65 which includes the concert. The concert only ticket is $10 and tickets will be available at the door.

Track titles include The Old & New: Modern Worship & the Liturgy, Arranging the Band, Worship and Creativity, and Women in Worship. There will also be a “Coffee Meet & Greet” time with the artists.

Worship leaders include nationally recognized songwriters and artists Brenton Brown, Matt Maher, Michael Gungor Band and Kelly Minter.
Brown is a Malibu, Calif., based artist who wrote the songs “Everlasting God, Hallelujah” (Your Love is Amazing), “Hosanna” (Praise is Rising), and the recently released self-named album, Brenton Brown. Brown grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, studied as a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, England, and served as worship leader for a local Vineyard church in Oxford. He has participated in recordings spearheaded by Brian Doerksen, of Vineyard Worship fame, and has had his songs recorded by Chris Tomlin and Lincoln Brewster. He has five songs in Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI)’s top 100 list.

Maher’s songs have been recorded by other artists, including: “Your Grace is Enough,” recorded by Chris Tomlin; “Unwavering, a reflection on the Beatitudes” recorded prior by Bethany Dillon; and “For Your Glory, a New Testament response to the book of Ecclesiastes,” recorded by Phillips, Craig and Dean. Maher studied jazz piano at Arizona State University and now ministers at St. Timothy Catholic Community in Mesa, Ariz. He has worked with several artists along the way, including Israel Houghton, Kathy Troccoli, and Rich Mullins, whom Maher credits with helping him land his job at St. Tim’s. His most recent release is Empty and Beautiful.

The Denver, Colo. based Michael Gungor Band is led by front man Michael Gungor and his wife Lisa. The group also includes Brad Nyght (drums) and Brad Waller (bass). As a songwriter, Gungor has penned several well-known worship songs including Friend of God, a song co-written with Grammy Award winner Israel Houghton that has become one of the Top 20 songs sung in churches around the world, according to CCLI. Gungor grew up as a pastor’s son in Wisconsin.

Kelly Minter is an author, songwriter, worship leader, speaker and musician. Christian recording artists Point of Grace, Joy Williams, Sonicflood, Sandi Patty and Margaret Becker have recorded songs Minter has written. Minter will bring a unique perspective on being a female worship leader.

Bryan Patrick, minister of worship and creative arts at First, Laurel, is excited about the conference. He hopes that worship leaders will bring their team members for a time of reflection and refreshment.

“The sessions will be great and getting away together as a team helps so much,” he said. His goal is that each worship team member will take one or two things back to their church situations and make them even more successful.

This conference will be held in lieu of the previously scheduled Worship Expo, which in years past was co-sponsored with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

“We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to have these national leaders share their expertise,” Patrick said.

After Mar. 19, concert tickets will not be available and conference tickets will be $65. Register online at or by phone at (800) 965-9324.

Getting in on the action, two locations of Chick-fil-a Restaurant in Laurel will donate a percentage of profits from conference attendees to World Vision.

In addition to this worship event, on Saturday, May 30, First, Laurel will host an afternoon seminar by Gerrit Gustafson, author of The Adventure of Worship, on the subject of worship throughout the Bible. Gustafson will go through the biblical foundations of worship, how worship affects daily lives, and where today’s worshippers are in the history of worship.

A special Night of Praise led by EMI recording artist, Vicky Beeching, will follow. The cost for the seminar and evening concert is $35; concert only is $15.
First, Laurel, is located at 15000 First Baptist Lane in Laurel; (301) 725-1688. Visit online at for specific directions.