First Baptist members gain major recognition
The Dove Awards is the Gospel Music Association’s opportunity to showcase the top names in their genre, and two members of First Baptist Church have been nominated for the honor.
Jeff Bumgardner, worship pastor, and Kellen Monroe, worship associate, became connected through their time in California and have only been at First Baptist for less than a year.
Bumgardner found out about his nomination through his publisher, and he said it was surreal to him.
“The Dove Award is the highest honor you can receive in the Gospel Music Association,” Bumgardner said. “I’ve always watched them growing up. I’ve watched my heroes get these awards; to receive a nomination is humbling.”
His nomination is for musical of the year for “Christ the Redeemer.” He wrote the piece with Joel Lindsey and said he was trying to write from a worship pastor perspective.
“Easter was early, so there was not a whole lot of rehearsal time,” Bumgardner. “So, we wrote something for our choir that could be learned quickly, but was strong in its theology.”
Bumgardner wrote a modern-day hymn to go along with the musical that told the story of Christ and served as a thread throughout the piece.
“I tried to put the listener in the scene,” Bumgardner said. “They are calling him Hosana and King of Kings. It places the listener in the scene. I wanted the audience to wonder what would it have been like to experience those thing that we now read about in the Bible.”
According to Bumgardner, the experience would not have been the same without the people around him to enjoy it.
“I feel like there are tons of people who are celebrating it with me,” Bumgardner said. “That’s what makes it special. It would not be much of anything without the people to celebrate it with me. It feels like First Baptist got the nomination.”
This marks Monroe’s third honor from the Association.
“It was pretty exciting,” Monroe said. “I got to relive that moment all over again, and it came out of nowhere. This time it was a little more surreal. It is a huge thing in the gospel music community.”
Monroe said that although he has had nominations in the past, this one was different because of the change from life on the road to one stable place.
“After coming off the road and leaving a gospel music career and settling down in a church, still being nominated after I left the gospel music field was amazing,” Monroe said.
His nomination is for inspirational song of the year for “When Love Whispers Your Name.”
“The song talks about those times in our lives when we don’t know what to do,” Monroe said. “Those quiet moments with God when we don’t know if anyone hears us. When all we hear is a whisper of hope.”
Monroe said that since moving to North Augusta he loves the community and the people.
“I’m grateful to be a part of what God is doing at First Baptist,” Monroe said. “This is a wonderful place with wonderful people.”
According to Monroe, another part of this year’s awards that makes it so special is being able to see a fellow member be recognized, as well.
“I am so excited for Jeff,” Monroe said. “He has worked so hard, and it’s wonderful to see him recognized and to see God honor his faithfulness is a huge deal for me. I hope they realize how blessed they are to have him at First Baptist.”
The awards will be held on Oct. 15 at the Allen Arena in Nashville, and will be shown on the UP Television Network at 8 p.m.
Heather Wright is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. She is a North Augusta resident and earned a degree in communications from USC Aiken.