Monthly gospel jam is ‘all about Jesus’

Published 6:31 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

SHOWN AT THE AUG. 20 “Gospel Jam” are, left to right, Jerry Murkerson, Clifford Murkerson, Ricky Haddock, Don Levens, Dallas Waddell, Dallas Wayne Waddell and Ailene Williamson.


Port City Church of God

It is about 5 p.m. Cars start filling up the parking lot. Car trunks start opening. Instrument cases of all sorts start appearing. Soon there is a host of “pickers” breaking out tuners. What is going on? It’s time for “The Saturday Night Gospel Experience” in Bainbridge.

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Each month, the Port City Church of God in Bainbridge is the host for a very unique and exciting event for folks who love Southern gospel, country gospel, or bluegrass gospel music in the tri-state area of deep southwest Georgia.

In early May, the Lord impressed upon my heart and the heart of my friend, Deborah Cox, to seek out a place where musicians could bring their instruments and play for the Lord on a Saturday night. Pastor Joe Tatum provided that place.

I have been playing gospel music in the Bainbridge area for 25 years. I contacted many of my fellow musicians and singers about the idea of a “gospel jam.” The response was overwhelmingly favorable. The “jam” is held each month on the third Saturday night of that month. Many denominations are represented. The theme and focus is, “It’s All About Jesus.” This theme was inspired by the sermon title of our 2nd Asst General Overseer, Bro. Mark Williams, when he preached at the Oct. 2010 district camp meeting for the Bainbridge district.

The instruments range from banjos to trombones to accordions to acoustic and electric guitars and more.

The first “jam” in May 2011 saw an attendance of about 70 and the attendance has grown to 174, as of the August jam. About 15 pickers are usually on stage and we have about 20 singers.

Each singer sings one song and then we start over when time permits. Deborah lines the singers up and I direct the band.

Community involvement is increasing, such as Beulah-Thomas Baptist helping in the month of August to furnish cakes for the refreshment time during intermission at 7:30 p.m.

History was made at the Port City Church of God during the August 2011 “jam.” WMGR Channel 22 TV in Bainbridge videotaped the jam for replay on this local system four times each month.

Pastor Joe Tatum writes, “A while back brother Jerry Murkerson asked my thoughts on having a gospel jam at Port City Church of God. My immediate response was, ‘Let’s do it!’ The monthly jam continues to bring some very positive publicity to Port City Church of God and gives anyone interested an opportunity to use their talents to give praise to Jesus. The theme of the gathering is ‘It’s All About Jesus.’ That is what the Port City church is here to do, to lift up Jesus.”

Deborah Cox of Moultrie states, “It has been the epitome of hard work, fun, a blessing, and worship.”

Tommy Thompson of Donalsonville writes, “I am thankful I was invited to the gospel jam in Bainbridge. It is a venue that I can play my guitar for my Lord. Also, I have made new friends at the jam who have come from 80 miles away and they are great musicians. The gospel jam is now my favorite place to play.”

Tim Dickens of Donalsonville writes, “What the gospel jam at Port City Church of God in Bainbridge means to me is putting God first in my music, for me that’s a very big change because I use to play Southern rock and heavy metal. My life has changed since those days and it feels good to be a part of something that is so good and feels so real.”

Larry Harrell of Bainbridge states, “Picking and Praising has been a blessing for me, to be able to use what God has blessed me with. I’m no professional singer or musician, but once a month I get to be with others just like me to give my best back to Him. I thank Bro. Jerry for his vision and for allowing me to be a part of the service.”

Mike and Sandra McComb of Bainbridge write, “As a musician and singer, Sandra and I support the gospel jam because of our home church, the Port City Church of God and meeting new people. The gospel jam is an inspiration for the city of Bainbridge where people can come together in song and spirit to praise the Lord. These songs have a message. We want everybody to come play and sing, and be a part of his Glory.”

Mark Ward of Bainbridge writes, “I’m so glad that Jerry answered God’s call to start this gospel jam. I love string music — even more, gospel string music. Let’s keep praising Jesus.”