Participate in a worship service at the Grace Brethren Church in Toppenish, Wash. (Greg Stamm, pastor), and soon you’ll be drawn in by the musical dexterity of Bob Ferguson. But it’s not for him, says the long-time instrumental teacher, who is part of the church’s worship team.
“I can’t tell you how that actually works,” he admits. “It’s where I’m led (by the Holy Spirit).
Seated on the platform, Bob is playing a B-flat clarinet. Surrounded him is an array of woodwind instruments. Across his lap is a flute; on a stand is an alto saxophone; there is an E-flat clarinet on the floor beside him.
As the worship team moves seamlessly from song to song, so does Bob, picking up any one of the instruments to play along with the melody.
“I try to find things that fit what we’re doing,” he says. “Sometimes I try one and think ‘it’s the wrong one,’ then I try to pick up the right one,” he adds. “The sound is very different with the congregation.”
He practices with the worship team during their pre-service rehearsal, but his improvisational styling often changes during the service. “I just go where the Spirit leads me.”
“For quite a number of years, I taught beginning band,” the elementary school music teacher notes. “It is my belief that you cannot teach an instrument that you don’t play.”
All the better to follow the Spirit’s guiding.