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A Life-Changing Week of Worship

by Briauhnna A. Phelps

The Azusa Pacific University Choir and Orchestra (UCO) began its annual tour on May 9, 2010. The eight-day tour took UCO through Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, where the group participated in nine worship services at six churches. During that time, the ensemble spent approximately 30 hours setting up and tearing down their set, 5 hours in sound check, 75 hours on two buses, and 18 hours onstage at churches.

Even more intense than the schedule, however, was the impact of God within the group itself. When asked about the tour experience, theater arts major Chris Slaney ’11 said, “It made worship real to me in a way I never thought could happen. I felt a connection through tour I have never felt before.”

Double bass major Josué Corona ’12 was touched by one event in particular. When a fellow member fell ill and an ambulance was called, the rest of the group gathered to pray for their fellow musician. “When we did the prayer in the round, it was so powerful that I started to cry,” said Corona. “I had not cried in about 10 years. It was a shocking experience how in a time of need, we put aside all that we were doing, even when all we wanted to do was go home, and just prayed. I really felt God's love in that moment. And when we started to sing Lead Me Lord, I was so overwhelmed by this joy that I started to cry.”

Theater arts major Emily Armstrong ’11 reflected on how God spoke into her life on Tour: “Tour made me come to realize how God might use me to bless others, and not just when worshipping. When you're in a small environment with that many people, everyone's true colors are bound to show—the good and bad—and I think in that way, God really reveals to you your strengths and weaknesses.”

Throughout the years, UCO, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this coming academic year, has deeply impacted church congregations across the world with their music ministry and sincere love for God. In the midst of that ministry, God’s presence has been more than apparent in the lives of the musicians who give of their time to honor Him. Senior LaKesha Nugent ’10 said it best: “Tour was absolutely life changing.”

Unforgettable friendships were formed between fellow musicians during tour.
“It made worship real to me in a way I never thought could happen. I felt a connection through tour I have never felt before.”
Cellist Eileen O'Neall '12 shows trumpeter Michelle Lane '12 how to play the cello.
“Tour made me come to realize how God might use me to bless others, and not just when worshipping."