Dear Calvary Family,
I am happy to announce that Calvary has called Stephen Christian to join our pastoral leadership team as Director of Worship/Creative Arts. Stephen is a recording artist, songwriter, performer and worship leader. Stephen has enjoyed a successful career as the lead singer and primary songwriter for the rock band Anberlin.
Stephen along with several friends in Winter Haven formed the band in 2002. They would end up signing with Universal Republic and recording seven studio albums selling more than a million records over their 12 year run. While the band was not specifically known as a “Christian” band, Stephen was well known for his very public and vocal faith in Christ.
In 2014, Anberlin completed a final world tour and ended their successful run. Stephen’s desire was to come home and put his priority on his family life. He and his wife, Julia, had two children at the time and have since added a third.
Though at the time Stephen did not sense that God had a purpose for him in vocational ministry, in 2015 he felt God’s leading in that direction and accepted the call to become the Director of Worship at Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With over 14,000 attenders on the weekend, Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque is one of the 20 largest churches in America.
Stephen continued to write and record music only now as a solo Christian artist. His album Wildfires was released in 2017 and has received critical acclaim.
In the providence of God, Stephen and I began to talk some weeks ago about the possibility of his coming to Pinellas County to lead Calvary’s worship ministry. His wife Julia is a local, having graduated from Seminole High School (Go Warhawks!). Her parents continue to live in our area.
We began to talk, pray and get to know one another. Soon, we sensed that God had orchestrated events to bring us together and we began to talk seriously about Stephen joining our team. A few days ago, I brought Stephen’s name and credentials to a cross section of congregational leaders and they voted unanimously to affirm Stephen in this role and to extend a call.
Stephen has agreed and will join our team very soon. He will be moving in December and will begin as the worship leader on Sunday, January 6.
Over the last few months, I have gotten to know Stephen. I’ve learned much about his career and observed his musical talent. I’ve been impressed by his credentials. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.A. and he also has a MBA from Liberty University.
However, what impressed me the most was his sincere love for Christ and his genuine sense of call to leading God’s people in worship. He has excelled as an entertainer and a performer, but he knows worship isn’t first about entertainment or performance. It’s about the heart. It’s about encountering God and voicing our praise to Him.
Stephen wrote, “I believe that all the glory is God’s and God’s alone. Our worship should be centered on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit alone. I believe that our praise should align with biblical truths and be edifying to the bride of Christ. We are not entertainers, rather conduits to usher in the congregation into the throne room of God.”
I have come to believe that in God’s perfect providence He has brought Stephen to us to lead us forward in the worship ministry at Calvary. I look forward very soon to introducing Stephen and his beautiful family to you. Will you join me in praying for them as they transition to Clearwater and will you join me in asking God to give us a renewed heart to experience Him in Spirit and in truth?