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Music and Memories: Alumni return for special 50th Anniversary Homecoming Concert

Jody McBrayer (left), Guy Penrod (middle), and Mark Lowry (photos by Andrew Snyder)

Liberty University invited back many of its alumni musicians and performers for a free Homecoming Concert, “Celebrating 50 Years of Music,” Friday night in the Thomas Road Baptist Church sanctuary.

Guests enjoyed a memorable night of celebrating Liberty’s rich musical heritage as part of the school’s 50th Anniversary, which kicked off this fall. The concert was hosted by contemporary Christian recording artist Meredith Andrews (’05) and nationally known gospel singer and former Gaither Vocal Band member Guy Penrod (’85).

“Wow, what a night,” Liberty School of Music Dean Dr. Stephen Müller said. “It was great to see Liberty alumni and friends gather to celebrate what God has done. I am again reminded that the same God who did this is the One doing it now and Who will keep on doing it as we continue to Train Champions for Christ.”

Concert performers included noteworthy former students Mark Lowry (’80), Jody McBrayer, Elizabeth Chan (’13), and Justin Kintzel (’09), among many others who have had prominent careers in the music industry.

Music alumni from throughout the decades enjoyed the opportunity to rejoice in what the Lord has done at Liberty over 50 years.

“Let’s let the theme of love hang over this entire evening because that is what the founder of this school (Jerry Falwell Sr.) sowed into every one of us on this platform, and I’m sure into everyone in this room to some extent,” Penrod said.

The Homecoming Concert was hosted by Guy Penrod and Meredith Andrews.

“This is a product of vision. And isn’t that a beautiful image to see 50 years of it here tonight?” he added.

Guests were treated to varying styles of music, from contemporary Christian to worship, Gospel, and even some hip-hop. Much of the night was spent in praise and worship, as the audience was asked to join in the celebration.

Between songs, video interviews were shown featuring music faculty, alumni, and others who have been connected to Liberty’s music ministry teams in the last 50 years. They paid tribute to those who built the music program, including the late David Randlett who moved to Lynchburg in the early 1970’s to help Falwell Sr. start the young school’s music department. The videos also helped guests reflect on the past, showing many historical photos and videos of music teams over the years.

 

Throughout the night, video greetings were also played from artists who could not be present in person, including Toby McKeehan (TobyMac, ’88) and Michael Tait (’89), who formed DC Talk while at Liberty, and Tait’s sister, gospel singer Lynda Tait Randle (’89).

“(At Liberty) I learned the Word of God and I learned how to apply it to my life and it’s been the foundation for everything I’ve done,” TobyMac said in his video message.

From Gospel to hip-hop, the evening offered a wide variety of Christian music genres for those in attendance to enjoy.

The concert also featured reunion groups with former members of the Sounds of Liberty, LU Praise, and Campus Band.

“I would put this music program up against any in the country and the world at large,” Penrod said referencing the Sounds of Liberty, one of Liberty’s longest-running musical touring groups.

He said that while everyone in Nashville, every waitress and waiter, may have a singing ability or musical talent, it is about much more.

“That’s not what it’s about,” Penrod said. “It’s about WHY you sing.”

He said Falwell Sr., who exemplified the characteristics of Christ daily, inspired the people around him and consistently reminded them of Who they serve.

“He had compassion, he had love, and he had kindness,” Penrod said.

With all of the nostalgia taking place over the weekend, Penrod encouraged guests to remember that as Christ-followers, every day can be a day of joyful praise to the Lord without condemnation.

“We’re here because of the kindness of God, which is completely and totally unmerited,” he said. “All of your sins past, present, and even future sins have already been forgiven.”

Andrews said that the spirit of the Lord, which has been present on Liberty’s campus throughout the university’s history, is still alive and well today.

“One of the things that struck me and has stayed with me from when I was a student and was with the band was how hungry the students were for the presence of God,” Andrews said. “They weren’t there for a show. … I got to lead worship this past Wednesday at Campus Community and it was the exact same thing.”

Before closing in prayer, Campus Pastor Jonathan Falwell expressed his appreciation to the alumni, who are prime examples of his father’s vision of Training Champions for Christ being fulfilled.

“All I could think about was I wish my Dad could’ve seen this,” Falwell said. “And then it hit me that he saw this before any of us did. … May Liberty University always be a place that stands on the truth of the Word of God and preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way.”