Chojnacki: Elgin church releases worship CD
It's been a long time coming, but Tim Pollard of St. Charles finally has fulfilled a dream that was in his heart the better part of two decades -- the release of a worship CD, "Take My Hands," from Vineyard Church of Elgin.
The 10-track album ranges from contemporary praise songs to a bluesy piece to a hymn written in 1863. Many tracks feature solo artists who wrote the songs themselves -- two each by Sarah Fahringer of Bartlett and Jack Urban of Winfield, and one each by Ben Krogh and Annie Young, both of Elgin.
"It's not like one band playing 10 songs," said Pollard, who serves as worship director at the church. "We're really celebrating our diverse nature here. It's like God's saying, 'Hey, you've got a lot of different styles here -- just enjoy them.'"
Pollard, a native of England, used to run a small recording studio there. Pretty much since coming to Chicago in 1988 and becoming involved with Vineyard, he had it in mind to use his production skills for the church.
But the timing was never right. For many years, the congregation met in a former bowling alley, which didn't exactly lend itself to an acoustically satisfying experience. And Pollard didn't have a studio anymore, so mixing tracks would have been quite expensive -- and no fun -- to contract someone else to do.
In 2009, the first problem was solved when Vineyard moved into a building of its own at 220 Division St. Eventually, the songs would be recorded and overdubbed there. Music technology also had advanced enough in the last 20 years to allow Pollard to edit the tracks professionally and affordably at home.
The quality of musicianship at church had improved, too.
"There's an impetus of talent," Pollard said. "I felt that we had enough people that were good enough to record. They were all doing great stuff, and I thought I could go ahead and move on this now. I really do believe it was a God moment."
One more important piece: Pollard always felt the CD should feature original material, and he began seeing that some of the worship team members were writing beautifully. "The song that really triggered it for me was 'Take My Hands,'" Pollard said. "I heard that song done by Ben, and I hadn't even realized he'd written it. Then I realized Sarah was writing, and Jack had been for several years."
On an international level, the Vineyard Church denomination has a long association with worship songs through its recording and music distribution company, Vineyard Music. Its labels originated favorites that have been recorded by Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James and others.
Pollard wanted the local church to have an album of its own to "speak of the identity of our body," he said. "This is who we are. This is our worship."
The initial release of 500 CDs is nearly gone, but the project has been self-supporting and more copies may soon be made available. It was never meant to be a fundraiser, though.
"The purpose has always been to glorify God, not make money," Pollard said. "I felt that we had something special in our worship, particularly in the original songs."
"Take My Hands" is available for download from iTunes and cdbaby.com, where you can also purchase the album.
"We've had nothing but positive feedback so far," Pollard said. "We didn't use a $2 billion studio; it wouldn't stand up to that scrutiny, but I'm really very pleased with how it came out."
Next up? Pollard envisions a "quiet time" CD for morning devotions. Even though "Take My Hands" kept him up late many nights, he would enjoy starting the process all over again.
"It's enormous fun. To me, it wasn't work. I probably spent 200 to 300 hours putting it together, but it's totally a passion for me," he said. "I feel like God has gifted me with that particular skill. Instead of just having fun and nobody benefits, I'm having fun and hopefully glorifying God."
I'm curious to know whether any other churches in this area have cut their own album, especially if the music is original. Let me know if yours has.
Episcopal updates: Congratulations to the Rev. Amity Carrubba, associate rector of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Elgin, who has been recognized nationally with a new title: executive director of the Episcopal Service Corps.
The corps is a network of 17 service program opportunities, each located in a different American city. Young adults live together in Christian community, working on behalf of the larger community while developing their own spiritual life and leadership skills.
• "In the Spirit" covers churches and synagogues in the Fox Valley area; contact email@example.com to submit information or ideas for upcoming columns.