Music in Worship and Education

April 6, 2017

This Saturday, April 8 at 7pm, Galilee kicks off Holy Week by hosting a performance by the Houghton College Choir. Houghton (pronounced hoe-ton) is a Christian liberal arts college in Western New York where faith and spiritual formation are integral parts of the educational experience. It is also the alma mater of Galilee’s music director, Jordan Markwood.

“I attended Houghton from 2001 to 2005 and earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education with a Vocal Emphasis,” says Jordan. “One benefit of Houghton was having classes such as “Music in Christian Perspective,” to explore how music and our faith are connected.”

The theme of Saturday’s performance is giving thanks.

Houghton College likes to say, “We don’t save faith for Sundays.” Religion and integrity are part of daily life in the classroom, dining hall and dorm. Education itself is seen as a precursor to service and solving problems in a broken world.

“I had professors who lived out their faith in their jobs as music teachers. They were an example for me,” explains Jordan, who took the example of his Houghton professors to heart. Jordan pays his debt to these mentors forward in his role as our church choir director and as a full-time music teacher at Briar Ridge High School.

“I try to be an example to my students of pursuing excellence in the arts, while maintaining personal integrity. What I try to impart to my students is love. These are diverse individuals who need to be affirmed and I do my best to acknowledge them and the voice they add to our community. That’s true of  Galilee, too, where we bring different gifts and heritage to this congregation, yet are united.”

“It is awesome to be able to invite my alma mater to perform at Galilee!” Jordan says. “I’m excited that the choir will meet the people I call my church family when they perform in the space where we worship.”

Houghton College Class of ’05, Jordan Markwood.

Another person at Galilee who knows the power of music in faith and education is Duane Minnick, who, like Jordan, is a music teacher at a local high school.

Duane says, “I’ve been a high school band director for thirty years in Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia. I am currently the Director of Bands/Fine Arts Chair at Briar Woods HS in Ashburn. I have over 200 students and lead three symphonic bands, two jazz bands, drumline, colorguard and the Falcon Regiment Marching Band. We have performed all over the country, including performances at bowl games and The London New Year’s Day Parade. This past December, we represented Virginia with a performance at the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Next March, the Briar Woods Symphonic Bands will perform at Carnegie Hall for the third time in 12 years.”

“I believe that God is completely responsible for the success that I have enjoyed in my musical career as a teacher, mentor, and performer. I want to teach my students that the qualities of respect, integrity, hard work and achievement are the most important life lessons that they can learn while in my band program.”

The Minnick Family: their love of music surpasses even their love of the Baltimore Orioles.

“I hope that my students see that I live my life through the Christian examples that Jesus taught. I’m far from perfect and I don’t preach to my students, but I do discuss right and wrong and the positive aspects of living your life with a moral code. I hope that they can see my faith in my actions.”

“Church members should be aware of the positive habits and attitudes of our Loudoun students. Whether performing at church or in school, my students exhibit enthusiasm and hand work in their activities and academics. I also think that schools could learn much from the unselfish, forgiving attitude of Christians. Many of the best stories from the Bible could teach students and teachers the most important life skills needed for success.”

Duane Minnick leads the Youth Ensemble each year on Scout Sunday.

“Music education is in great shape in Loudoun County due to great support from the upper administration and principals,” Duane reports. “Most of all, there are some very talented music educators in LCPS, (like Jordan Markwood), and the students are blessed to have teachers that love music and understand how to relate to their students.” 

Duane and his wife Shannon have been coming to Galilee with their kids for about twelve years. They  have been involved in church performances including scripture readings and Christmas plays, and both his children, Payton and Brody, have sung and played their instruments in services at Galilee. Such a musical family obviously supports performances like that of the Houghton College Choir on Saturday night. “I believe one of the best ways to worship the Lord is to use the talents and gifts that he has given us. Music is one of the greatest ways to show this,” says Duane.

Members of the Houghton College Choir.

The students of Houghton College have worked hard to present a beautiful and inspiring program of music. If you are not already feeling the special warmth that comes with the approach of Easter, this performance will definitely put you in the right frame of mind.

The biggest thing Galilee can do to help with this concert is to attend…like God’s love and mercy, it’s free to all.

“The choir sings beautifully,” says Jordan. “I truly believe that everyone in attendance will be moved. It is a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for Holy Week.”

Galilee will host a potluck dinner at 5pm on Saturday for the Houghton students. We want to feed the choir members and make them feel absolutely welcome. We need your help! Please RSVP here to participate in the potluck.  

We’re also looking for a few host families to house two or more of the singers after the concert (approx. 8:45) and bring them back to the church at 6am so they can get to Baltimore to sing at a Palm Sunday service. If you can host choir members, please call the church office (703-430-2203) or email Jordan Markwood at