The holiday season has arrived along with all of the holiday décor in the malls and stores comes the seasonal music, both contemporary and classic. Internationally renowned composer, Phil Barfoot, is presenting a new musical compilation titled, "The Heart of Christmas," which he hopes will become a beloved favorite.
The premiere of the musical will be held at Carnegie Hall on Monday, November 24th. The choir of Second Baptist Church in Kingwood has been invited to perform in the event as part of the 350 member American Celebration Choir.
The choir at Second Baptist Church North in Kingwood Texas is led by pastor and worship leader, Jeff Bennett. Music and ministering through it has been the focal point of his life. Afraduating from Ouachita Baptist University with a Bachelors of Music, he prepared for ministry with a Masters of Arts at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. For the past 28 years, he has both served as a worship leader at various churches along with composing and performing his own music.
Bennett is committed to sharing the gift of music, not only through leading worship but also through the training and education of others. Through his nonprofit organization, Keys for the Kingdom, Bennett provides classes for upcoming instrumentalists and church ministry staff in addition to providing concerts to churches. Bennett typically performs at between 8 to10 concerts per year outside of his role as a music pastor.
It was through one of these performances that Bennett was brought to the attention of the Second Baptist North campus pastor, Mark Terry. Bennett was invited to be the lead music pastor for the campus in 2012.
Bennett has brought connections to nationally known artists to the already strong music program at Second Baptist. In January 2014, Second Baptist hosted the Festival of Keyboards along with a joint choir of 300 from among the five campuses of Second Baptist. Bennett has been a part of this four member group for the past 12 years.
Jeff Bennett performing with The Festival of Keyboards concert at Second Baptist Church - Woodway, January 2014. A grand concert of four pianos featuring Ovid Young, Stephen Nielson and Jerry Anderson at Second Baptist Church.
Bennett has collaborated with Barfoot on previous projects, which prompted the invitation to perform at in the Fourth Annual Christmas in New York. "Phil invites choirs to participate that he knows can handle the music," Bennett explained. Forty-two members of the Kingwood campus choir along with 20 members from Woodway will be travelling to New York to perform at Carnegie. Along with the choir from Second Baptist, those from six other churches will be part of the American Celebration Choir.
In addition to the musical compilation by Barfoot, Bennett will perform his own instrumental music. This will be his second year to participate in the Christmas in New York concert. This year's presentation, "The Heart of Christmas," will feature vocalists Travis Cottrell and Marcia Ware. Author and speaker, Beth Moore, will provide the narration. The music will be published by Lifeway in 2015 and available for preview for the 2015 Christmas season.
Jeff Bennett leading the Second Baptist Church North choir practice. Solo by Judith Roberts