A relentless pursuit of God, and His relentless pursuit of them, led six South Georgia singer-songwriters on a spiritual and musical journey.
What came out of their journey is “Relentless: A Worship Project,” a self-described “collaboration of passionate worship artists deciding to worship together.”
The six Valdosta State University students began their almost year-long odyssey one evening after a VSU Wesley Foundation worship service. Realizing that there was a wealth of musical talent within the ministry, Wesley Foundation director Rev. C.J. Harp gathered them together to discuss the possibilities of making an album.
This spring, after much persistence and prayer, their album was released.
“The whole point was to be about advancing God's kingdom here on earth through the use of their God-given talents,” Rev. Harp said. “Our desire was for this project to be an act of worship.”
While each songwriter brought different talents, musical styles and spiritual backgrounds to the album, they share a common goal: to glorify God through their music.
“I was drawn to (the project) because of the heart of the people involved,” said senior Andy Unger, a 22-year-old member of Albany First United Methodist Church. “All of us have a passion for music, but more importantly a desire for worshiping God with everything we have.”
Senior Lindsey Radcliff, 21, says that her best songs are the ones she writes the quickest because they are emotionally driven and spiritually motivated.
A Hahira native who attends Valdosta First United Methodist Church’s Solomon’s Porch service, Radcliff wrote “Well Done” in about an hour one Sunday afternoon. “I Am After You,” her second song on the album, took only two hours.
“My walk with God is essential to my part of the album,” she said. “I can’t write what isn’t real for me, so I had to personally experience the emotion and lessons learned in my songs in order to bring them to the project.”
The 12-song project – two contributions each from Mike Browning, Austin Crockett, John Fuller, Josh McLemore, Radcliffe and Unger – is also an effort to raise money for the VSU Wesley Foundation.
With a “diverse,” “eclectic” sound, the artists say that the album has songs to fit almost every musical taste.
“There really must be at least one song on the album each listener will like,” Radcliff said. “The diversity of the album is one of the things I love about it the most.”
According to the album’s website, the purpose of “Relentless” is to encourage and inspire listeners to worship God with abandon and to pursue Him relentlessly. The hope is that it conveys the depth of God’s love for each and every person, and the relentlessness with which He pursues them.
“I believe that these songs are a great encouragement for people who may be going through hard times in their lives and looking for answers,” Unger said. “My hope is that when they listen to the CD, they can find comfort in knowing that God is relentlessly after them.”
While working on the album, Rev. Harp says they realized that the music’s overall theme was God's relentless, loving pursuit of everyone.
“This was the message we wanted to get out,” he said. “It is a message that people desperately need to hear. God loves His creation and is relentlessly pursuing it with a reconciling love.”
Not only did the project give the artists an opportunity to showcase their gifts and talents, it helped grow and strengthen their faith.
“The CD taught me a lot about how much we really are so interconnected as the body of Christ and how one small thing here can turn into one huge thing there,” Radcliff said. “I’ve learned more about generosity, passion, encouragement, focus, and the importance of faithfulness in the little things through my experience with the ‘Relentless’ project.”
In addition to writing and playing two songs, recent VSU graduate Mike Browning, a Brunswick native and member of The Chapel, engineered and produced the album.
"In participating in the ‘Relentless’ project, I didn't just help feed others spiritually, I also found nourishment from the process of making this album with passionate followers of Christ,” he said. “The whole process was something we went into with an attitude of expectancy rather than relying on our own whims. Faith started playing a bigger role, not just in the day-to-day technical aspect, but in the bigger picture. I remember thinking, ‘Okay God, we’ve poured our hearts into this, now how are You going to use this to further Your kingdom?’”
Rev. Harp says that one of the Wesley Foundation’s goals is to provide opportunities for students to learn about and engage their spiritual gifting.
“The Relentless album is a fruitful expression of that aim,” he said.
All proceeds from the sale of “Relentless,” plus all merchandise sales, donations, and love offerings, will go directly to the Wesley Foundation. The Wesley Foundation uses this money to fund various ministry opportunities in their community and abroad. For more information about “Relentless: A Worship Project,” visit www.relentlessalbum.com.
--By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate editor
To subscribe to the South Georgia Advocate, the official newspaper of the South Georgia Conference, mail your check, payable to "South Georgia Advocate," P.O. Box 660275 / Dallas, TX 75266-0275. Pay by credit card by calling 1.877.465.1685 or online. A one year subscription is $25 (or $23 for subscribers 65 and older). Keep up with the news of the South Georgia Conference.