Friday, February 23, 2007

Melvin L. Brown

Melvin served Riverchase United Methodist Church for eight years as Minister of Music. Prior to that, he served as Director of Music Ministries at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia, and was Music Director of The Augusta Choral Society.
Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Mr. Brown's family moved to southern California when he was a child. As a young man, he began serious vocal study as the only pupil of the great Metropolitan Opera soprano, Amelita Galli-Curci. He later served his country in the United States Army as a chaplain's assistant. He continued his musical studies at the University of California, the Music Academy of the West at Santa Barbara, the Mannes College of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where he met his wife Sandra Walker.
Mr. Brown began his professional career as a soloist with the Roger Wagner Chorale, making extensive concert tours of the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Appearances as guest soloist followed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of famed conductor Zubin Mehta, the San Diego Symphony, and other major U.S. orchestras. He was a member of the Columbia Operatic Trio, the Metropolitan Opera Studio, and appeared at the New York City Opera and with the opera companies of Dallas, Houston, and San Diego.
Melvin Brown was highly sought after as an oratorio soloist, and performed regularly in concerts in New York City at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. His operatic career took him to Germany where he appeared in leading roles in opera houses throughout the country. While in Germany, he was Music Director at the Frankfurt Central Chapel and conducted the Frankfurt German-American Community Choir. Locally, Mr. Brown has performed in Birmingham with Alabama Operaworks and Opera Birmingham. He has recorded for Angel, Columbia, and Vox Records.
Melvin Brown is survived by: his wife of 32 years, Sandra Walker Brown; their son, Noel Christian Brown of Augusta, Georgia; his sisters Wanda Herold of Escondido, California and Mary Mager of Reno, Nevada; numerous nieces and nephews; and a host of friends, admirers, music-lovers, and students from all over the world who will grieve his passing and cherish his memory for all that he has meant to them, both personally and professionally.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Melvin Brown

Dear Friends in Christ,

This is very difficult for me, but I need to share a word of personal sympathy and grief with you.

Our beloved and wonderful Minister of Music, Mr. Melvin Brown passed away this week.

Please be in prayer for Sandra, Noel, and all of the members of the Brown family. Please also be in prayer for our church staff, and everyone involved in our music ministries. It is with a great sense of grief and pain that we send this notice. May God guide us, and grant His grace and peace to all involved.

In Christ,

Jim Savage

Friday, February 9, 2007

More Thoughts about the Super Bowl by Dr. Jim Savage

We all remember how the early disciples shared their faith story in ‘The Book of Acts’. Most of them gave their lives because they were witnesses for Christ. I had heard recently that Coach Tony Dungy and Coach Lovie Smith were both Christians. I was surprised when Coach Dungy gave a quick but powerful witness on national television after the Super Bowl while everyone was still watching and celebrating. I did not know at that time that several stories were taking place about his faith.

One report stated that Coach Dungy walked into the locker room and all of the players knelt for prayer. It seems that even the players that are not Christians still respect their coach very much, and participate out of respect for him. Other players have shared the profound impact Coach Dungy and Coach Smith have had on the lives of many people.

Another report stated that Coach Dungy gets their attention without the use of any profanity. Another report quoted several statements by Coach Dungy that were made at a breakfast that sounded similar to his words that were live and on camera. It states Coach Dungy saying: “I’m very proud to be the first African American head coach in the Super Bowl along with my friend Lovie Smith,”… “but more than that the fact you have two Christian coaches who show you can do things a different way.”
“You have (two) coaches who have firm Christian values, and the country and the world need to see that this week,” Dungy said. “I’m more proud of that than anything else.”

Coach Dungy became the first head coach to actually change his schedule so that he could attend a breakfast that week that was sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ. “We usually have special team practice and meeting that day before a game,” Dungy said, “but because I’m the boss, I can set the schedule. So we just pushed everything back today to be here.”
A local name was mentioned also. They give an award each year named for Hoover resident and prior NFL player and Coach Bart Star. This year the prestigious Bart Star Award went to Denver Broncos safety John Lynch for his longtime excellence on and off the field, but a great highlight of the programs was the appearance by Coach Dungy and his wife Lauren. Dungy was planning to bring 65 of his players but a miscommunication with the buses caused them to transport 20 players. But that was still the largest appearance of Super Bowl players in the history of the breakfast.

It seems you can be a successful coach without using profanity after all. It seems you can be a successful coach and be a great witness for Jesus Christ. It seems you can be a successful coach and be a great role model for your players, and even the teenagers of our nation. Thank God!


As I was pulling out of Panera Bread yesterday when I noticed a sign on one of the empty storefronts advertizing one of the local dance studios . It reminded of how much I miss "after-football-game" dances , and the fact that most of us do not dance anymore. I wonder why.

Growing up, I went with my parents to square-dances on several Friday nights. They loved to dance, and would go the local American Legion Building with a covered dish in hand and dance. Of course, there were those other times: it was dancing the waltz, the two step, the rumba and, the fox-trot, jitter bug and Charleston. At times, I thought my brain would explode listening to those old country-western tunes or what I called "old folks music" when they danced to the Lawrence Welk Show. However, I even learned "folk dances" in our church youth group as a young teenager. This was not a popular thing to do in the days of “the swim”, “the monkey”, “the mash potato” , “the twist.” ,and then into the age of the hard-rock music of Woodstock, and into the early 1970's. While it seems us boomers have lost our passion for dancing, recent movies and stories have begun, I hope, to bring dancing back.

I am sure some of you are saying dancing continues to happen, just look at all the recent publicity of starlets dancing the night away in New York and Las Vegas. Or, what about the recent television phenomenon “Dancing With the Stars?” That is true. However, dancing in these settings seems to be reserved only for the rich and famous. Also, look at the style of dancing being publicized. Dancing in these venues is the “bump and grind” that exhibits something different than the mutual cooperation and respect it takes to dance a flowing waltz. I am amazed in these days when women are gaining more and more equality that this submissive, male dominant form of dancing is so popular with the younger crowd. I often wish I had grown up in the day when the more graceful forms of dancing were popular like the waltz, and many others.

The dancing I am talking about is the dance that celebrates life and relationships. In the rock ‘n roll era, while we would dance in wild, often bizarre fashion, it went a long way if a guy could do a decent “slow dance.” In earlier generations the waltz and two step were basic dances, but knowing the Charleston brought dancing to another level of celebration and excitement. Dancing has always been about celebrating life and our relationships, and it has been an important ingredient in faith.

Somewhere along the line, though, we lost this aspect of our faith. The Psalmist calls us to celebrate God with dancing and singing. One of Jesus’ first miracles happened at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). Have you ever been to a Jewish wedding reception? I can assure you that there was dancing. I hope Jesus danced. Dancing is a way for us to celebrate the good gifts God has given to us.

A few years ago, Lee Ann Womack released a song entitled “I Hope You Dance.” A good friend gave this song to me. The first stanza of this song reads,

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.
You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger.
May you never take one single breath for granted.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes, I hope another opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance.
And, when you get the choice to sit it out or dance;
I hope you dance … I hope you dance.”

As we begin a new year, I hope you dance…. with faith and with life. I would like to leave you with some verses from 'The Bible" that refer to dancing. It it mentioned in one form or another over 25 times in "The Bible", but here are a few closing verses and phrases. "Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre (Psalm 149:1-3). "Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with clanging symbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Psalm 150)" We are reminded in other places in the Old Testament that "there is a time to mourn and a time to dance". And we are reminded that "David danced before the Lord".

I pray that before the year is over you have a chance to dance in praise before the Lord (at least in your heart).
In Christ,
Jim Savage.