We thank Texas for sharing his story with us. Shorter students have grown and been nurtured by churches all over Rome. They have shared what they learned at Shorter for the glory of God. Their talents will be sorely missed in the community of believers.
I came to Shorter in the Fall of 2008 after attending the Summer Arts Institute (a Summer music camp) three years in a row. The Hill welcomed me, a budding pianist, with open arms. In September of that same year, Dr. Alan Wingard offered me an internship at Garden Lakes Baptist Church. My duties were primarily focused around the contemporary worship service, but I soon became involved with the sanctuary choir, the Jubilate Ringers (their handbell ensemble), and started working with the children’s choir. Four years later, I look around and can’t help but smile. Garden Lakes has grown tremendously – so much that now we have a total six student interns from Shorter involved in worship regularly. We don’t go to church to get paid, we’re part of the family now.
Garden Lakes isn’t the only church with music interns; in fact, over 80% of the music students at Shorter have regular internships at local churches. It’s a great benefit to the community, and a tremendous opportunity for students. Here’s the thing: most of the students with jobs at local churches have decided to relocate and continue their education elsewhere due to the changes that have been enacted at Shorter this year. The majority of our teachers have found work elsewhere, too. It seems as though the music world, at least that of the college students, is quickly disappearing.
I wasn’t brought up attending church regularly. Typically my family would go on Christmas and Easter, but that’s about it. I didn’t know much about Christ before I came to college, just that he loved me unconditionally. It wasn’t until I became involved at Garden Lakes Baptist Church that I really got to know Him and all the reasons He loved me. I talk to Him everyday now – that’s something I never thought I’d do if you would’ve asked me when I graduated from high school. I can’t imagine what sort of person I’d be now if Dr. Wingard hadn’t approached me four years ago. My life has ever been changed for the better.
I’m graduating this year, and I’m very sad to be leaving this town. Rome couldn’t have fit me better for this first stage of my adult life. Unlike myself, so many young adults are leaving Rome prematurely. In these last few weeks of school, I’m seeing that the changes happening at Shorter aren’t restricted to life on the Hill. Church communities throughout Rome will be weakened by these changes – changes made in God’s name. I disagree with the new direction the Shorter community is taking, and fear that the quality of education the institution offers will take a turn for the worse before there’s any hope of it reestablishing itself as the academic community its been for decades. I gave up on offering my input to the GBC and Dr. Dowless months ago after even our best efforts were not making a difference.
I’m not sad for Shorter anymore; the decisions have been made. Now, I weep for the church families losing treasured members of their choirs. I weep for the children in these churches that are receiving quality music education from their interns. I weep for the loss of so many music ministers, pianists, and organists in the churches of Rome. Worship in these places won’t be the same for a very long time, if ever. If there’s one thing worse than disrupting an academic community, it’s disrupting a church. I hope those in power at Shorter realize how wide these new changes span, and how disappointing and heart wrenching they are.
A student, a musician, and a firm believer in the love of Jesus Christ,