A New Rock/Pop Evening Song Service by Rock Vespers and Local Musician Terry Shaw Kicks Off May 14, in Lacey

The Rev. Beth Utto-Galarneau and Music Director Terry Shaw will lead the new monthly Saturday evening services with rock/pop music and short readings in the sanctuary of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lacey. Photo credit: Nancy Krier
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The Beatles sang that the long and winding road leads to a door. Sometimes a long and winding road can lead to a place of worship. And the church’s music can open that door. That’s why the new Rock Vespers band at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lacey is launching the first of four popular music services on May 14 at 6 p.m.

The band will perform again at 6 p.m. on June 11, July 9 and August 13.

“The purpose is to create a new service that caters to people who find spirituality through music,” says Terry Shaw, the church’s music director. “The other aim, which has been the aim of many churches over the past several years, is to reach those who aren’t necessarily Sunday morning churchgoers.”

The word “vesper” means a service of evening worship. In Latin it also refer to Venus, the evening star. That’s why the Rock Vespers band will be providing their new alternative rock/pop service in the evening hour. “There are a lot of spiritual people, faith-filled people,” Shaw says. “Can we make a church look like something other than a traditional Sunday service?”

The Rock Vespers band led by Shaw includes a piano, keyboard, bass, drums, guitars and a saxophone. The band will play rock/pop music that in some way connects to a few short scripture readings provided by the Rev. Beth Utto-Galarneau, co-pastor. “The leadership understands that many in the population are deeply spiritual but not connected to an institutional church, or they have become disillusioned,” says Utto-Galarneau. “We want to create a space for people to listen.”

Services will be primarily musical and last about one hour. They will include a time of instrumental music where attendees can sit quietly and pray alone or with Utto-Galarneau.

“We wanted to create a new space through music,” Shaw says. “We asked, ‘Is there a group of people who would benefit from this?’” Shaw expects that some people attending will join in singing and others will sit back and listen, depending upon what they need in that moment. “It’s OK to be a back row or a front row person,” he says.

The band plays music from the Beatles, the Eagles, Billy Joel, John Mayer and other rock/pop icons. Shaw and Utto-Galarneau describe that the songs at each of the second Saturday services will follow an arc. “Terry has been very intentional about the flow,” says Utto-Galarneau of the music choices. Shaw says each service will feature three groups of songs. The first group’s themes are “frustration and searching.” The second’s theme is “finding.” And the third’s theme will be “don’t worry about a thing.”

Terry Shaw sings and plays piano with the new Rock Vespers band. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Shaw has a long local history with music and education in area churches, schools and the community. He began teaching choir and weight training at Timberline High School in 2001 and has coached football. Shaw was also given the 2017 Governor’s Arts & Heritage Award for his work with the musical community. Shaw holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and earned a master’s degree in music from Boston University. Co-pastors Beth and Eric Utto-Galarneau also have a PLU background — they met one another while attending that Tacoma college.

Band members include the talented father-son duo of John Martin (guitar and keyboard) and Benjamin Martin (saxophone), Felix Halvorson (guitar), Darlene Jones (drums) and Rick Jarvela (guitar). Shaw is the lead vocalist, and he plays the piano and guitar, as well as conducts. In yet another PLU connection, both Benjamin Martin and Halvorson are students at the Lutheran college and play in the University Jazz Ensemble.

Shaw says the impetus to find an option for a different kind of worship came to him while he was thinking about a long-time group at a Presbyterian church in Tacoma, the “Blues Vespers” which play blues music. Shaw says he knew they had a popular following of persons who might not otherwise attend a more traditional church service. “I thought about the same sort of idea,” says Shaw of St. Mark, where he has directed music for seven years. “We’ll call it the Rock Vespers.” He says he pitched the proposal to Utto-Galarneau, and she and the church leadership took it from there.

Shaw and Utto-Galarneau say that they and the church will assess moving forward after the four months of these new services. Shaw, who is also a pilot, says the four services are like “touch and goes” before deciding how to land this musical plane.

The Rock Vespers will perform monthly at 6 p.m. on the second Saturday of May through August in the sanctuary at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 2109 College Street SE, Lacey.

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