Last school year, at Gem State Adventist Academy in Caldwell, Idaho, Ever Perez, Bible teacher and academy church pastor, began two worship leadership classes. One focused on learning to preach and lead other aspects of worship and was designed especially for all student spiritual vice presidents. The other was a class through which students could develop their leadership skills as part of a praise team.
This year, with 19 enrolled students and two staff members, three praise teams developed. Each team worked and grew together through the school year. The process included learning music they could lead together, as well as learning what works, what doesn’t and some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of leading worship music.
Following a schedule, the worship teams led Sabbath morning services at GSAA and various campus events. In January, Idaho's Payette Church requested one group come to lead music for their church. Members later reported what a blessing it was to have the students there. When the nearby Nampa Church hosted a concert in the park in April, one team shared a few songs.
For the final vespers of the year, the worship class planned a concert in which all three teams performed, led worship and shared thoughts on what the experience had meant personally. GSAA Senior, Kayla Hastings said, “It was like being part of a family, complete with some disagreements here and there. I’m going to miss my team. It was a great learning experience.”
Jenna Waterhouse, a GSAA junior, commented, “In order to make this work, we ended up practicing at 7 in the morning sometimes. But it was worth it. It has been a great year.”
Perez, who loves music, said this “is an opportunity to use a personal passion to involve our students in a ministry that can be a blessing to them and to others. I am learning from the experience how to be a better teacher and musician, and it’s great fun to make music with them. I love to watch them grow musically and as leaders and to see them enjoy this area of ministry.”
Music has always been a strong aspect of the educational program at GSAA. The Worship Team experience adds one more dimension. It is another opportunity for students benefit from GSAA's mission to "engage in service, train for leadership and prepare for eternity."