Inside the Massive Musical Operation of Fellowship Church
Dallas is home to one of the richest religious music scenes in the country. Over the summer, we'll be attending services, both big and small, of many denominations, as well talking to musicians, directors and pastors.
Inside and outside, Downtown Dallas' Fellowship Church campus is very modern. It has almost no religious imagery, looking more like a concert venue than a typical church. The Beach Boys were playing over the PA in the lobby. The stage was decorated for the current theme of the sermons, "Riding Giants," with surfboards and a lifeguard stand on the stage and colorful images of waves and beaches on the big screens.
At the 11:30 service on Sunday, June 23, 2013, the downtown band of mostly volunteers included multiple vocalists, a bassist, electric and acoustic guitarists, a drummer, a pianist, people playing the hand drums and a ukulele. They played covers of popular Christian songs, including some by the famous Hillsong Church in Australia, as well as covers of popular songs like Imagine Dragons' "On Top of the World." With the lyrics on the screen, some of the audience put their hands up and swayed with the music while most simply sang along with the high-energy band.
The band members, who appeared to mostly be in their late teens or twenties, also performed some of Fellowship's original songs, which "Worship Leader" Derric Bonnot says were almost all inspired by stories of their church members.
22-year-old guitarist Blake Sjerven alternates weekly between performing at the downtown campus and other DFW campuses. Previously, Sjerven took a year off and performed and recorded music in Austin, Texas, but expects to return to school in the fall at North Central Texas College. 18-year-old guitarist and vocalist Joel Villagran, a recent graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, has performed at the downtown campus since he was 15, and has attended the church since he was about 13. Outside of playing with FC, Villagran is currently forming a band to play heavy metal.