An Affirmation

OASIS conference opening concert draws largest crowd in event’s 3-year history


Who says worship can’t be fun?” Jim Davidson asks with a smile and a wink, talking about his experience at the July 15 Carnegie at the Creek concert at Butler Chapel.

“You have this wonderful time of worship, done in a style that is basically indigenous to this area … and it was done so well,” Davidson adds. “It was entertaining, powerful and refreshing at once.”

Davidson came to Campbell University from First Baptist Church in Hickory as one of about 140 attendees of the Divinity School’s third annual OASIS church music conference, a three-day event for church musicians to not only get ideas and learn more about their profession, but to get away from their daily routine and replenish their souls through music and worship.

The highlight this year for Davidson and the conference as a whole was the Carnegie at the Creek performance featuring composers Pepper Choplin and Joseph Martin, bluegrass musicians and a choir made up of men and women from all along the East Coast.

The concert was an encore performance of the Bluegrass 57@7 concert led by Choplin and Martin at Carnegie Hall in New York City from February of this year.

Many of those same choir members who performed in New York joined Choplin and Martin — along with Campbell University musicians and church singers from the area and region — in Buies Creek for the OASIS concert

The result? An overflow crowd in the 400-person capacity Butler Chapel (many were forced to stand or sit in the lobby and watch through the open doorway). It was by far the largest crowd to attend an OASIS concert, according to Larry Dickens, associate professor of church music and worship for Campbell Divinity School.

“I wouldn’t say we were surprised by the crowd,” said Dickens. “Our vision for OASIS from Day 1 was for Campbell and the Divinity School to become a place where people can have these kinds of experiences and renew their spirit through music. [Carnegie at the Creek and the crowd] was a total affirmation that, yes, this is exactly what we’ve set out to do. And it’s working.”

Brenda Grager of Strasburg, Pa., was one of the many singers on hand who performed the same program at Carnegie Hall last February.

She said the musicians who took part in that concert enjoyed it so much, many jumped at the chance to do it again at Campbell University. And while performing at Carnegie was a dream come true for Grager, she said her experience at Campbell was equally rewarding.

OASIS was Grager’s introduction to Campbell University, and she said the experience was wonderful.

“Oh my, the southern hospitality,” she said. “We have been treated so well, and everyone has been so accommodating. We’ve really appreciated how everyone here has gone over and above what’s expected to make us feel welcome.”