By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 3, 2018

This series in the “Signature Ministries” project is part of the BNG Storytelling Projects Initiative. By studying ministers or churches who practice “Signature Ministries,” we learn from communities who respond to the needs around them, engaging and energizing members in specific ministries that turn them outward on the world. We will specifically profile ministers who lead through their passion and zeal for an interest or a skill that connects with their community outside of the role they would normally play as pastor, leading their congregants to see Christ in others and reaching the needs of the world around them.

Below you will find the first in this series of articles. Use the link to navigate to the page. Feel free to share the articles in the series each week on social media using the tags: @gospelgothic or @hhbcmacon

For Macon, Ga., community, Americana music is holy liturgy

~ This series is written by Blake Tommey. Photos and video are by Jenna Eason.

If Americana music is sacred, Macon, Ga., is hallowed ground — a consecrated destination that offers spiritual awakening to any devoted pilgrim.

Pray at the City Auditorium, where Little Richard broke onto the stage for his first ever public performance. Go to confession in front of the abandoned Macon Hilton, where Elvis Presley stayed in the penthouse suite and Prince crashed the 1980 First Presbyterian Day School prom. Nobody will hear you — it’s abandoned. Take a communion of fried chicken and collards at the historic H&H restaurant, where the Allman Brothers and Wet Willie used to enjoy lunch.

Afterward, recite the sacred words to James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please,” spun for the first time at the former WIBB radio headquarters, and meditate just upstairs where Phil Walden founded Artists and Promotions, managing the likes of Otis Redding and Johnny Jenkins, and went on to establish Capricorn Records, the birthplace of Southern Rock. Convene with the departed saints at Rose Hill Cemetery where the Allman Brothers Band took refuge, wrote their first two albums and now lay buried.

Finally, when Sunday morning arrives and it’s time to worship with other believers, grab a hot cup of coffee and tune into Gospel Gothic on 100.9 FM The Creek, where the songs of Mavis Staples and Jason Isbell are holy liturgy. And you don’t even have to watch your language.

“All music is sacred, if you let it be,” Jake Hall, host of Gospel Gothic and pastor of Highland Hills Baptist Church in Macon, says.