Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Phil Wickham Performs at New Downtown Church: Metro Calvary
By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) -- The first time I met Phil Wickham was at the beach: Huntington Beach, California, to be exact. Phil was one of the many youth gathered at the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa sponsored event. They were playing volleyball, surfing, and enjoying the California sun. The year was 2001.
However, for the next several years, Phil’s musicianship began to blossom. Though he was from San Diego County and we were his northern neighbors in Orange County, every now and then our paths crossed.
Phil would bring a batch of new songs to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa to perform for youth events, lead worship, or to show worship leader Scott Cunningham (another great songwriter) his newest creations. Even back then, Phil had an evident penchant for writing thoughtful and catchy tunes.
I remember one meeting where Phil brought the song, “Jesus, Lord of Heaven”, to Scott. They called me in the office. I sat. Listened. My first reaction was, “This young man has a great sense of melody.” The tune was—and remains—a great song.
Many churches in the Calvary Chapel circle began using “Jesus, Lord of Heaven”, for congregational worship, solidifying it as a favorite of both youth and adults.
Another time, Phil brought in songs from his “Give You My World” CD. Again, I was impressed—Phil was not just a “one hit wonder.”
He was distinctive, driven, and serious about writing great songs.
From there, I casually watched Phil’s career rise. He released a couple independent projects, and then his first “major” release. Phil’s devout faith and his yearning to create artistic music impressed me.
Then I lost touch with both Phil and his music.
It wasn’t until my own kids—two teenagers—started to listen to Phil’s album, Cannons. By this time we had moved from California to the state of my childhood, New Mexico. My oldest boy, Isaiah, would play the song “True Love”, and my daughter, Sutherland, particularly liked the song “Beautiful”.
Once again, I took notice. Phil’s melodies, nature-inspired lyrics, and God-honoring approach were head and shoulders above many other songwriters in the Christian music arena.
So when Phil came to Albuquerque for a recent engagement at the new downtown outreach, Metro Calvary, I made it a point to sit down with him and catch up. Phil talked of his marriage to his lovely wife, Mallory, and his musical influences (too many to state). He did say he is “song oriented, rather than artist oriented.” And we swapped stories of life back in north San Diego County.
Phil played all four services at Calvary of Albuquerque. But the main reason for his time in Albuquerque was to play at Metro Calvary on January 24th.
The outreach was a huge blessing and a great success.
Describing the evening, Pastor Skip Heitzig states, “We have been doing a satellite video campus on Sunday mornings from our church in Albuquerque in the downtown area of town for months now.
“Renting the El Rey Theatre for our Renovate college group on Thursday nights, and then Sunday mornings at 11 AM for main church services was our M.O.—until January 24th! We decided to do a "re-launch" of Metro Calvary and move the time to Sunday nights.”
“With special music and worship led by Phil Wickham, we cranked it up downtown! As you approached the theatre from the outside, our turntable ministry (record scratching) was already drawing a crowd.
“The inside was abuzz with people getting espresso drinks, putting Bibles on seats, and spending the last few moments before the event in fellowship with each other. There were 600 people who came out for our first night—and they brought friends and relatives. Many came forward at the end of the night to receive Christ. It was wonderful.
“We're hoping that people who live in that area will start making Sunday Nights at Metro their church night and we can create an outreach in downtown Albuquerque. The Lord really blessed the worship and teaching of His Word. It was so exciting. I think I’d like to go there and teach the Word on Sunday nights. A fresh work is underway!”
To add even more excitement to the mix, Phil played an assortment of his songs at the El Rey Theatre, including tunes from his new album, Heaven and Earth.
According to INO Records, “Phil Wickham received the highest chart placement of his career as his third studio album Heaven and Earth, debuted at No. 5 on the Christian music chart selling nearly 14k albums landing the No. 50 spot on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. Wickham also dominated the iTunes® Christian chart hitting the No. 1 spot during the week.”
Even with all the press attention, what impressed me most about Phil—then and now—is that he remains excited about his music, his faith, and the future God has in store for all of God’s people. Phil is fellow sojourner in this journey of life and recognizes that God is in the business of doing great things for all of His children—on earth and in heaven.
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.
Send this story to a friend. Share