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Alumni couple merges interests to create online network for churches and worship leaders

As a former worship leader herself, Liberty University music alumna Julie Anne Vargas (’13) understands firsthand the stress of trying to find a last-minute replacement for a member of the worship team due to illness or another unexpected circumstance. So three years ago, together with her husband, Liberty business alumnus Erick (’14), she launched the online platform Worship Serve to serve churches looking for musicians and worship leaders to fill slots for their weekly services or long-term interim positions.

Erick and Julie Anne Vargas with their son Emmanuel (Photo provided)

“Because I was a worship leader, I knew what I needed, and I knew how difficult it is to find somebody to cover for you,” Julie Anne said. “I basically wanted to solve my own problem, and I knew I could help solve others’ problems. We have been able to be so successful at it because it was something that was part of our life. I didn’t have to go looking for some opportunity out there, it was just here.”

After graduating with a B.S. in Music and Worship from Liberty, Julie Anne accepted a worship leader position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in south Florida to begin her professional career. She also ran a large nonprofit for worship leaders, Village Hymns, which facilitates songwriting workshops and other opportunities for worship leaders to collaborate, for about five years. Through these endeavors, she quickly realized the incredible need for better connections between musicians and churches.

By combining her music background with Erick’s software and business know-how (he earned his bachelor’s in business administration – entrepreneurship), Worship Serve was born. The company launched a website in 2022 and has been steadily growing since then. Both the churches and individual worship leaders can create accounts, connect with other users on the site, and book musicians for a Sunday.

Currently operating in 10 major cities (including Miami, Dallas, Orlando, West Palm, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tampa, and Knoxville) and with a roster of about 300 musicians, Worship Serve has now helped about 200 churches find the help they need and sent out a total of 1,200 musicians.

Julie Anne led worship at a multi-church worship event in South Florida. (Photo provided)

“Erick and I love the local church and believe that it’s the only hope for the world because it carries the message of the Gospel and the hope of Jesus,” Julie Anne said. The reason we do what we do is to help worship leaders and pastors eliminate the stress involved in finding replacement musicians so that they can focus on leading the Church in worship and preaching the Gospel.”

 The Vargases said the education they received at Liberty helped them jumpstart their careers and make great strides in their fields. As a member of the former 71 and Awaken ministry teams (now incorporated in the Liberty Worship Collective), Julie Anne gained firsthand experience performing on large stages across the country. She said she valued her worship training, specifically in conducting and choir ensembles. Erick is the CEO and co-founder of Follow Up CRM, a software startup company in the construction industry.

The Vargases are also grateful for the lasting relationships they built at Liberty, including their own.

“Liberty is a special place for me because in 2013 we got engaged in the Hancock Welcome C enter at a ministry teams event surrounded by Liberty friends,” Erick said. “Liberty University has been a big catalyst for me in my career but also most importantly for my family.”

Erick and Julie Anne have one son, 1-year-old named Emmanuel.

Julie Anne leads worship in Convocation as a member of the Awaken ministry team in 2012. (Photo by Joel Coleman)

“We founded and run Worship Serve together because of our unique skill sets, and we really love getting to run this business together,” Julie Anne said. “We love that our son can grow up seeing his parents do what they love.”

Julie Anne said she was able to build friendships at Liberty with many church leaders who have become a part of Worship Serve. And Erick said he continues to benefit from the connections he made at Liberty; over half of his staff are fellow alumni.

“Liberty University set me on a path that helped me learn how to combine my love for the Church and my software background,” Erick said. “These are usually separate worlds, but I want to see them unite to serve the Church more effectively. Worship Serve has been one of the ways Julie Anne and I are seeking to do this.”

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