By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, October 6, 2016

Last Sunday, we had a truly beautiful worship experience outside in the amphitheater. It was a holy moment that happened outside the walls of our church's building. I am deeply thankful for our worship leaders, the lovely weather and your voices raised among the trees.

Worship happens in encounters with God, sometimes in interesting places. On a Sunday a few weeks ago, like many others, I found myself sitting at the four way stop light. I nearly missed my turn signal, because I was listening to the radio. I was surprised by the deeply soulful songs about grace, love, sin, and brokenness playing that morning. On that day, I worshiped even before I got to church.

The station was 100.9 The Creek. Maybe you have heard it. The next day I emailed the radio owners, thanking them for the ways the sacred and the secular conversed in their music. Their approach reminded me of what Flannery O’Connor said: “I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.” This particular sensibility of religion in the south had me thinking about Macon, with its music heritage and many steeples. I began to pray about this question: What would it be like to enter into a conversation about faith with our community in a new way?

Such conversations have led to an interesting partnership between Highland Hills and The Creek. We will be hosting a new show on the 100.9 The Creek that explores the themes of grace and sin and redemption through the lens of Southern Americana music. This show, which airs for the first time this Sunday at 9:30 a.m., will include conversations about redemption, grace, sin, and hope. Keith Gammons and I are developing themes that have meaning with the songs on this radio station. I am struck by the image of a river while listening to the Creek, an image used throughout scripture. We need a place like a river where John the Baptist gathered both the pious and the rascal shear a message of grace and redemption. Think with me about how the water is the place where all of God’s children can gather and hear the good news in a new way. If we met at The Creek, might we find the voices of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in harmony with evangelists of another kind: Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Townes Van Zandt. Maybe creating that kind of space with The Creek will help us remember that there is space for everyone at the river. The show is called "Gospel Gothic" and will air Sundays at 9:30 a.m. You might catch this show on your way to Sunday school. You might miss it. Either way, you can be assured people will be listening for how grace echoes in the music as we explore the crossroads of faith, music, and meaning in "the Christ-haunted South."

For more episodes of Gospel Gothic, visit