The Calvary Night of Christmas Worship is always a beautiful experience. This weekend, leaders from across our three campuses gather for two nights of extraordinary Christmas music and heartfelt worship on December 8 at 7:00pm and on December 9 at 6:00pm. More information for Christmas at Calvary can be found at Calvary.us/Christmas. I always enjoy it, but this year it may be more laden with emotion than normal.
For over 20 years, Greg Toney has served as the leader of our music and worship ministries. For nearly a decade before that, he was a featured performer in Calvary’s annual Christmas pageants that were performed in downtown Clearwater for many years. This year represents a finale of sorts. Greg has announced his retirement from Calvary’s staff and is leaving his active service at Calvary at the end of this month.
He has been assisted by Frankie Rogers who has served as an administrative assistant in our worship ministries for nearly 40 years. Frankie is the longest tenured staff member at Calvary and she served the Lord under four worship pastors over those 4 decades, including working with Kyle Mullett who has led worship at Clearwater for the last year and a half. Frankie, too, is retiring at the end of the month. Together, they have served Calvary for an equivalent of over 60 years. Their transition marks the end of an era.
This weekend, it will be my privilege to recognize them both in our morning services at the Clearwater campus and a special reception will be held in their honor Sunday night after the Night of Christmas Worship. Greg will be singing both in the concert as well as at our services on Sunday morning at the Clearwater campus. I’m already a little melancholy at Christmas and this isn’t going to help.
I hope you will join me in saying thank you. Words just aren’t adequate. Greg has been a partner in the gospel work and he has been a friend. For over 14 years, we have worked together. He is one of the most committed and talented individuals I have ever served with. I have watched him manage our teams and guide our ministry through transitions, challenges and opportunities.
I suppose the highest compliment I could give him is that he helped us sing. He helped us say the things that are sometimes just too majestic to put into words. Music is a vehicle to express our highest praise and our deepest feelings. Greg helped us do that. He stewarded the moments, he guided the talents, and he managed all the parts. Like a master conductor, he took all the disparate sounds and created a beautiful symphony.
Together, we watched this church grow and thrive. We watched God work and celebrated His grace. Christmas is unthinkable without music and for more than 20 years at Calvary that has meant Greg Toney was right there, always a part of our Christmas. But seasons do change and in God’s providence and timing this season will come to an end.
So, yes, the lights are all lit, the musicians are all prepared, and we will soon gather to hear the sounds and sing the songs. As always, it will be a special night but this year there may be just an extra tug of emotion. We gather with thankful hearts and, as we celebrate the love of our Father and the gift of our Savior, we will remember that among His good gifts to us are the people He has used and the gifts He has given them.
Another transition is taking place at our East Lake campus as Ryan Bell and his sweet wife, Jaime, have accepted a worship position in Mississippi. This will also be their last weekend and they will be a part of the Night of Christmas Worship as well. We also have the chance to thank them for their ministry at East Lake during the first 5 years of our ministry at that campus.
So this weekend will include some heartfelt farewells. Greg and Sharron Toney, Frankie Rogers who has been supported by her husband Don, and Ryan and Jaime Bell have all been a part of our Calvary family. Their ministry is part of our legacy and this weekend affords us a poignant moment to say thank you. Words don’t quite do it justice so I guess we’ll just have to raise our voices in song. I think they would want it that way.
Ryan and Jamie Bell