Pastor and his wife blend music with ministry

August 13, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The Rev. Stacy Crawford long ago came to the conclusion that one of the best ways to a parishioner's heart is through music.

Crawford, 35, pastor of First United Methodist Church since 2001, uses music - from traditional hymns to bluegrass gospel, from Christian rock 'n' roll to his own compositions - as a bridge between himself and his religious community.

His wife, Lisa, 36, who sings and plays the flute, performs with him.

"Everyone relates to music," she said.

"It's a universal language," Stacy Crawford said. "It can bridge the gap between our everyday lives and the baggage that everybody has. Sometimes a song can reach somebody that just mere words can't."


He tailors music to coincide with the services. "He often sing songs that go along with his sermon," his wife said.

Stacy Crawford writes many of his own songs, including two that have been copyrighted by the Library of Congress - "What If It's True," and "Jesus, Make My Heart Your Home."

He and some parishioners recently cut a 13-song album that's been selling well in the congregation.

He holds a formal Methodist service at 8:45 a.m. Sundays in the church sanctuary with a choir and traditional music and liturgy.

About 150 members attend that service, he said.

An informal praise and worship service is held in the church's Family Life Center at 11 a.m. with about 80 members in attendance.

The songs, prayer and praise and sermons in the later service are more up-tempo, he said.

The Crawfords perform at events around the community. Last week, they provided the music for the dedication of the John L. and Cora I. Grove Community Room in the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce office on East Baltimore Street.

The couple led a small church choir atop a float in the Greencastle Old Home Week Parade.

Their musical ministry extends to senior centers, community events, even a rescue mission in Hagers-town.

"Music is a way to speak to the deepest part of a person's heart," Stacy Crawford said.

He succeeded David Armstrong as pastor. Before that, he was pastor at a Methodist church in York County, Pa. Prior to that, he was an assistant pastor in a church near Harrisburg.

He grew up in a family of five boys in York County. All five played instruments.

"Our parents knew the value of having children learn an instrument," he said. "My dad made sure we stuck with it."

The only brother to enter the ministry, he earned a bachelor's degree at Shippensburg (Pa.) University with a major in history and minors in government and geography. He earned his master's at Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Lisa Crawford has been playing the flute since fourth grade, she said.

She and her husband were high school sweethearts. They have three girls, ages 6-12.

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