Pastor's passion for music leads to Idol experience


By Kara Witherow, Editor

Music and singing have long been passions of Moultrie First United Methodist Church pastor Rev. Mark Addington.

Growing up in Thomasville, he sang in church and in the youth choir. While in college at Florida State University, he played trumpet as a member of the Marching Chiefs. And at Candler School of Theology he sang in a men’s a cappella group.

“If I wasn’t in ministry I think I would move to Orlando and audition to be in one of their bands or do something performing,” he laughed. “I enjoy singing. Music is something that I’ve always been passionate about.”

While on a recent family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Rev. Addington put his singing talent to the test at the theme park’s American Idol Experience attraction.

At the urging of friends, Rev. Addington auditioned for the show, which is inspired by the popular television series. At the Disney World attraction, park guests are invited to audition in front of live audiences who then vote for their favorite singers.

“I did this on a whim,” Rev. Addington said. “I’ve always kind of wanted to do this while we’ve been down there, and I finally walked in at the encouragement of a friend who said I ought to try it.”

The theme park attraction’s audition process is very similar to the television show’s, he said. Any Walt Disney World guest 14 years old or older can try out.

One of more than 3,400 people to try out for the day, Rev. Addington sang Garth Brooks’ “The River” for his first audition. After being approved to move on to round two, he chose to sing the popular Christian band MercyMe’s, “I Can Only Imagine” for the remainder of the competition.

Singing the only Christian song on the approved song list seemed like a good fit, he said.

“I was told that the show had just added that song a few weeks before I was there, and I decided to try it.”

After going through two initial rounds of auditions, Rev. Addington was chosen as one of the day’s 15 semi-final performers.

In each of the day’s five preliminary shows, three singers perform and are voted on by the audience. Each of the five preliminary winners compete in the day’s final show.

Singing at the 6 p.m. semi-final show, Rev. Addington faced competition from two female singers. Audience members voted him the winner, and he moved on to the finale show to sing against four other semi-final winners.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get to sing with a vocal coach and perform in front of more than 1,000 people, he said.

“The experience itself was really, really awesome. It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.”

As one of five contestants in the day’s finale show, Rev. Addington sang “I Can Only Imagine” in front of a packed house. Placing third, he was bested by another man and a young lady from Mississippi.

In addition to it being an “awesome experience,” singing at the American Idol Experience gave Rev. Addington a chance to share his faith.

The show’s makeup artist, also a Christian, watched Rev. Addington’s final performance and was brought to tears by his rendition of the song.  And after the show was over he was able to have a conversation with and pray for one of the show’s sound technicians.

“People told me how awesome it was that I was able to witness through the song,” he said. “People all over the park that night and even some the next day at another park stopped to tell me that they loved the song and how neat it was for me to be able to sing it in front of so many people.”