Worship and Music: Alumnus Chris Lee ’05 shares faith through music
Jun 18, 2016
For as long as he can remember, Chris Lee has been involved in music. From singing in the children’s choir to taking piano lessons to ringing in the bell choir, Lee has always felt called to do music.
“Music has been a part of my life for my whole life,” Lee said. “Even when, as a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian, I still liked music more. I grew up in 1st UMC in Sevierville. When I was a small child in that church, we did a couple of children’s musicals each year, and I got to do a lot of speaking parts and solos in those, which made a big impact on me.”
Lee credits his music ministers at First United Methodist in Sevierville with helping him develop his passion for music. His involvement with music has carried over throughout his life. He took piano lessons for eight years and began playing the guitar while he was attending Tennessee Wesleyan.
“I always wanted to play the guitar, but I never got guitar lessons,” Lee said. “When I went off to college at Wesleyan, I basically didn’t even tell my dad, I just took his guitar with me. He had an old junky Yamaha acoustic guitar. I just took it with me. There was a little chord book in there. I just forced myself to learn some guitar chords. The summer after my freshman year, I took lessons for a couple of months just to help me out a little, but for the most part I just forced myself to learn, and I got a lot of songbooks of songs that I knew already to force myself to learn the chord progression of those songs. I didn’t start learning until 2001 when I stole my dad’s guitar.”
Fifteen years later, Lee is still actively involved in music, playing the guitar during worship services at his church as well as at other churches and events in the region. Lee serves as the Director of Contemporary Worship at 1st United Methodist Church in Maryville, TN, working to plan and lead the Sunday morning and Wednesday evening contemporary worship services each week.
“I love just getting to relationally be with people, get to be a part of something on a deeper level of their life,” Lee said. “The relationships I’ve gotten to build that continue en iyi saç ekimi to grow deeper is really what should keep any person in ministry coming back and keeping them going. When you get to…at least be a part of some sort of difference in their life, that’s the coolest part. I love music, and I love getting to see that can be a part that makes a difference in people’s lives from saç ekimi ne kadar a worship standpoint. Sometimes music also speaks to people’s souls and spirituality in a way that a sermon or prayer time or something of the like doesn’t. Music doesn’t work for every single person to worship God fully, but for a lot of us, it does, so that’s cool to be a part of.”
While he was in college, Lee’s parents bought him a guitar, which he continued to play throughout college, participating in worship music and playing at events around southeast en iyi saç ekim merkezleri Tennessee. One of Lee’s most memorable experiences at Tennessee Wesleyan was playing in a concert for Hurricane Katrina relief.
“Hurricane Katrina happened while we were still at Tennessee Wesleyan,” Lee said. “I had graduated already, but we were still living there because my wife worked there. We did this event that was planned called Camping for Katrina. It was planned by a friend of ours who was at Tennessee Wesleyan, as well as Scott Mashburn and his department. We had all kinds of stuff to raise money for Katrina relief.”
Lee always felt called to do music in some way and started out as a music major at Tennessee Wesleyan before changing to a church vocations major with a concentration in education. Though Lee knew music would be a part of his life, he did not initially intend to enroll at Tennessee Wesleyan. Despite the fact that Tennessee Wesleyan was not his original plan, his campus visit changed his mind.
“I loved Tennessee Wesleyan,” he said. “Everything about my time at Wesleyan was so awesome. I don’t know exactly what attracted me. There was just something about it when I was there. I was in my admission counselor’s office after we had done this visit, seeing this trashed residence hall room, that didn’t go how he hoped it would and he just said how do you feel about it. Tears literally came to my eyes as I’m sitting in his office because I just knew that I needed to be there. I had already decided that I was going to Middle Tennessee State University. I had told them that I accept my scholarship and everything, but I thought, I have this scheduled. I’ll just go and check it out. They’ve offered me a good scholarship. I’ll just go and see what Bert Huffman has to say. After my visit, I just knew I was supposed to be there. I called MTSU and said I’m so sorry, I know I said I was coming, but I just can’t, and I never looked back.”
Throughout his time as a student, Lee formed strong relationships with both peers and faculty, many of whom he remains close to today.
“I had such rich friendships that started and continue because of Tennessee Wesleyan, with people my wife and I continue to get together with now,” Lee said. “Some of those people that we didn’t know except for because of Tennessee Wesleyan College got together with us a couple of weeks ago for a dinner to celebrate our daughter who is coming in a month, so we have some really rich friendships that happened because of Tennessee Wesleyan. Also relationships with professors, staff and faculty that continue. We had really great relationships with Dr. Roberts and Rev [Professor William McDonald] because we were both religion majors, in part, but we also had great relationships with Scott Mashburn and Marsha Zaleta, who are both still there. We love them dearly and Scott’s family. We just loved it. Everything about it was so perfect for us.”
The size and close-knit nature of Tennessee Wesleyan allowed Lee to be part of a wide range of groups on campus, from participating in music ensembles even after switching from a music major to starting intramural sports to getting internships through connections on campus. The relationships he formed on campus, combined with his educational and co-curricular activities, set Lee his chosen career path, leading him to his current job at 1st UMC Maryville.
“Because of what I experienced and got to be part of through Wesleyan is how I got my first job in a church,” Lee said. “Because of Wesleyan, the whole vocational path was made. I got some internship time that happened while I was a student there. I interned at Trinity on campus. I truly believe I would not be at 1st Maryville if I had not gone to Tennessee Wesleyan. I just would not be here. Truthfully, I might not have even graduated from college if I hadn’t gone to Wesleyan. It was just an atmosphere that worked for me, with people who worked for me, who were in my cheering corner, had my back, including my now-wife, who came and challenged me and pushed me to make better grades while I was there. It would be hard for me to think of negative things about my time there. I just love it. As long as Wesleyan is not standing still and is continuing to take steps forward, whatever that looks like, we’re going to be fans of it and we’re going to be on board.”
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