The Story of Sound
September 17, 2021
Bee Creek UMC is young and vibrant, nestled in the ever-growing Texas Hill Country and surrounded by musicians who have shaped the culture of Spicewood. It is a unique setting for ministry that is ripe with opportunities to be innovative. When the pandemic hit, however, the promise of those opportunities seemed to be stifled.
“COVID was traumatic for Bee Creek in multiple ways,” Lead Pastor Wilson Pruitt shared. “We had to shut down the church, change how we normally worship, and transition how we did almost every other activity. More importantly, we had to shift the ways we interacted with people dramatically and shift our traditions around closure. This church didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to their old pastor or hello to me when the new appointment was made in the middle of the pandemic. Those shifts were incredibly difficult for this congregation, but they also prompted us to think in new ways.”
At only twenty years old, Bee Creek was faced with the same pandemic dilemmas that were challenging to much more established congregations. As defeating as those challenges seemed, Bee Creek UMC chose imagination over timidity.
They had received a TMF grant to transform their “No Walls” offsite service into a sustainable ministry renamed The Harbor. The format and structure came about through discernment concerning the local singer-songwriter community, storytelling, and the structure of a house concert. With all the uncertainty of 2020, they decided to wait and pray and continue to establish connections in the community instead of parachuting ahead. By Christmas, they came back to their idea for The Harbor as a way to engage musicians in ministry and storytelling and they took a leap of faith. Using their historic Christmas Eve Eve service as a launch, the idea for The Harbor officially came to life.
When March 2021 arrived, the pandemic had started to dissipate, and The Harbor was in full swing. The congregation was enthusiastically supporting the concept and musicians were eager to share the stories behind their sound. That work continued and flourished into the summer of 2021 and there are no signs of stopping.
One Thursday a month, they work with a local pizzeria to host The Harbor, inviting attendees to listen as musicians tell the story of their music and Bee Creek pastors share the story of God’s love. By using their grant funds from TMF to purchase sound equipment and compensate the musicians, they offer a professional-quality experience for those who venture to the pizzeria on those Thursdays.
By embracing their own imagination, they also highlight the rich connections between the storytelling of songs and the storytelling of faith. For those who cannot join in person, Bee Creek has expanded their audience by making The Harbor available on their podcast.
“The grants TMF provided during the pandemic really offered stability at a time of uncertainty,” Wilson noted. “The grants also offered continuity and a reminder of our deep relationships and community at a moment when the church was undergoing a leadership change at such a tumultuous time. That mattered to Bee Creek, and it helped build trust for the future.”