Joyful Sound, the Baptist Student Union ensemble, turned 25 years old this past spring. A homecoming concert was held March 28, 2003, at Turner Chapel featuring music and members from the present as well as years past.
Joyful Sound was founded in 1978 by Mike Baker and Mayson Easterling as an outreach ministry of the college. Baker, who left and entered into full-time evangelism in 1981, served as Music Director with Easterling handling management duties. “The first Joyful Sound groups had no van, trailer, sound system, equipment, outfits or scholarships,” said Baker. “they just wanted to minister and today’s members should thank them for the foundation they laid.”
Other Music Directors have included Dale and Gina Sellers, Eddie Anders and NGC Campus Minister, Dr. Steve Crouse, who recently agreed to resume serving after Rick Kirby’s death last summer. Easterling, NGC’s Executive Director for Denominational Relations, continues to manage the group and also is celebrating 25 years on the college staff.
Easterling estimates that the group “has visited more South Carolina Baptist churches than any other ministry team over the past 25 years. They have shared in over 1,300 SCBC churches since 1977,” he said.
Approximately 200 students have served in the ensemble, many of whom are serving in local churches in full-time ministry or as active lay persons. A second team was added in 1995 with the support of the late Ira Craft and the Cecil B. Day Foundation. “We added a second team because churches were having to schedule us two or more years in advance,” said Easterling. Since that time, the combined teams have averaged 160 concerts per academic year.
In addition to church concerts, the group shares in schools, nursing homes, conferences, and prisons. They have also served in mission projects to the Dakotas, West Virginia, New England, Hawaii, Argentina, and Puerto Rico. This past spring break, one team made a mission trip to Ecuador, while the other toured Virginia, including a chapel program at the International Mission Board in Richmond.
Asked about the impact of Joyful Sound on the college and South Carolina Baptist, Dr. Jimmy Epting, NGC President, commented, “There is no question that Joyful Sound has made a tremendous difference for Jesus Christ both on and off campus. Their music has been excellent, but more importantly, their Christian commitment has been contagious and refreshing.”
Photo: Twenty-five years of Joyful Sound members fill the stage as they sing in front of a packed crowd at Turner Chapel on March 28, 2003.
Article printed in the Fall 2003 issue of the North Greenville College Magazine.