By Ansley Brackin
Communications Specialist for North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church
Most churches maintain a certain “vibe” when it comes to their worship; however Friendship UMC of Hephzibah has a vibe like no other. Pastor Mark Taylor leads the congregation of 80-100 people with a laid back approach and casual dress code. The church does not currently have a website, but instead has a YouTube account. A visit to the account immediately reveals why.
While there are recordings of things like sermons and church events, the music of the church holds the largest presence, and popularity, on the “Pastor Mark Taylor” YouTube page. On their USA Churches profile, they are listed as having a Traditional worship service, but what it doesn’t mention is the variety of styles incorporated within that traditional label.
One day you may hear Don Raley performing a familiar hymn like “How Great Thou Art”, or you can hear young musician Courtney Jenkins singing a southern ballad, like “Daddy’s Hands,” by Dolly Hunn. Sometimes there is a full choir singing songs like “Ten Thousand Years,” or the talented White and Ruiz families may be joining together to perform a gospel tune like “We Lift Our Hands In The Sanctuary,” by Kurt Carr.
“You have to experience it to understand it,” claims the Augusta District’s Superintendent, Terry Fleming, “but they (along with Jesus!) make it work beautifully, unselfconsciously, right there at the entrance of Fort Gordon.” Listen for yourself and be amazed by the unique arrangement of musicians within Friendship UMC’s congregation.