I was quite hopeful going into the year 2020. There were big changes coming this year—in ministry and business and art and family—things that made me both apprehensive and hopeful. Little did I know just how big (and weird) those changes would be.
I’ve been doing an annual “By The Numbers” blogpost since 2009, and I’ve found that the process of writing a year-end post has been quite helpful. I review my calendar, reflect on the things I’ve accomplished, and perhaps prayerfully consider what the next year holds. Previous “By The Numbers” have included international trips and tours, speaking engagements, new albums or books, art projects, worship leading, and a host of personal milestones (like anniversaries, weddings, or grandchildren). But for obvious reasons, 2020 is a noticeably quieter year. That all being said…here’s my crack at 2020: By The Numbers.
Number of Pandemics: 1
A lot of things were cancelled because of Covid 2020. A lot. I was planning to participate in a fall missions trip to Croatia with Proclaim! International, and that fell through. I had a few speaking/music engagements in Oregon, Nashville, and California, which were cancelled. And all my gigs, especially the summer winery concerts, were cancelled as well. So all that being said, number of speaking engagements: 0. Number of gigs: 0. Number of missions trips: 0. Sigh.
Number of Blog Posts: 14
The blog posts I wrote this year were also a sign of the times. Of the 14 posts I wrote this year, four were pandemic related, and two involved issues of racial reconciliation related to the arts. From “Love God. Love Others. Wash Your Hands.“ to “Georgia Still On My Mind,” I found my musings on the arts deeply related to the geopolitical, the racial, and the pandemic. Looking for something to do during the lockdown? Check out “100 Things Creatives Can Do With Their Time.”
Number of Worship Services: 41
Covid affected the church as well. From limited-seating indoor services to livestream-only services to outdoor services, and most every permutation in between, the worship community had to learn how to lead the people of God in an ever-changing adversity. Of the many memories I have of 2020, two stand out. One is looking intently into the lens of a camera—trying to picture my congregation standing in front of me—and leading worship. That’s some weird stuff right there. The second is having worship services outdoors in the beautiful courtyard of our church campus. Sunny skies, gentle breezes, leaves turning color and falling on the stage—there’s something uniquely blessed about worshiping under what I call the “cathedral of the blue sky.”
In spite of these challenges, I think people’s hearts have been shaped by the experience. Covid has created a longing for the “one anothers.” To be with one another, to worship with one another, to break bread with one another, to love one another. And for that I am thankful.
Percent of Company Growth: N/A.
Everything is related to everything else. Loss of social gatherings translates to loss of music gigs which translates to less income for musicians which translates to less musical instruments purchased. Our WalkaBout Drum suffered from this as well. Our company held steady but unremarkable sales in 2020, although we had some bright moments. Continued adoption by bands like I Am They and Grammy-nominated We the Kingdom. Another successful (pre-Covid) presentation at the NAMM Show. And the many encouraging comments by satisfied purchasers who share their WalkaBout experiences with us.
Number of Screenplays: 1
This was probably the most fun I had last year, learning how to write (or should I say, rewrite!) a movie script. Over Covid, I partnered with a movie industry friend and a script doctor, and slowly rewrote a script that I had originally started five years go. We had two Zoom table reads with a number of really talented actors from Los Angeles, San Francisco, even New York (including award-winning actor, Princess Punzalan, and iconic film and voice actor, Dante Basco). The creative process was both exhilarating and humbling (being in the presence of talented craftsmen always is). I don’t know what the next steps are, but we are quietly moving forward with the project.
Personally, there have been definite ups and downs this year. One of our ministry partners, the Bicol Center for Christian Leadership, lost their director (and my good friend), Mayette Altivo-Bueno, to cancer. My son graduated with his Doctor of Physical Therapy. My 22 year-old baby daughter moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. I had a birthday with a number that ended with a zero. My ministry position is continuing to evolve, and I’m working more and more behind the scenes at my church. We continue to live in the ebb and flow of this thing called life.
A Look Toward 2021…
No one has a crystal ball. But if and when things begin to open up, it’s my hope to get busy again. I would still like to participate in overseas ministry in eastern Europe this year. I’ve already been contacted about some speaking engagements in 2021, and I hope that these conferences can happen live instead of via Zoom. INNOVA Music will be releasing a brand new WalkaBout product in the spring, one that Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend have been anxious to put in their online stores, so that will keep me quite busy. And we will be expecting our third grandchild in March, so there’s that too!
As always, I am always grateful for the encouragement given by many of you, and I encourage all of my artists of faith to be safe and healthy, love God and love others, and continue to be faithful with the gifts our Artist God has so graciously given us. Happy 2021!