On her first day of work, the new minister of music made the trek from Wilmington as snow was beginning to flurry and soon discovered that as she left town the storm was growing more intense. After the three hour drive on snow covered road, Phyllis Stallings made it to Grove Park Baptist Church only to find that activities for the day had been cancelled. She began to question what God had gotten her into. That was back in January of this year. Since then Stallings has had a chance to discover a new and exciting place win which to serve her God.
Stallings grew up in Eastover in Cumberland County, the only daughter of Pete and Neva Stallings. She graduated from Cape Fear High School and moved on to Meredith for her undergraduate Bachelor of Music degree in Applied Voice. The new minister of music then attended Miami University in Ohio where she earned her Masters of Music and Voice Performance.
“I have always loved music,” asserted Stallings. “I do not remember a time when it was not a part of my life. I think I always knew that it would play a big role in my life.”
While a student at Miami University, Stallings was a member of the Cincinnati Opera and she remained a year after graduation, continuing to sing with the group and taking private voice lessons. “My time with the opera was very beneficial. It gave me an opportunity to appear before a large audience and be on stage. I enjoyed it greatly. I got paid to play dress up and sing,” said the music director laughing. After that year she returned to North Carolina.
Stallings began to operate the private studio of Rita McDaniel who had turned it over to her as well as her students. Teaching piano and voice, Stallings also began to work part time with Salem United Methodist Church as their choir director. A few years later, the minister of music moved on to become the music teacher at Cape Fear Christian Academy in Erwin. She was both the music teacher and librarian for the K - 12 academy. She remained there for about 10 years. Stallings then became the librarian for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville. She also directed the school’s dance team. Feeling the call to become the minster of music at Temple Baptist Church in Wilmington, Stallings relocated there as served there prior to coming to Grove Park eight months ago.
“I have always been an active church member and God has always been a part of my life and my decisions. It is a joy to use my gifts of music to serve him and share his love through song,” expressed the music minister. Leading a church’s music ministry is a big job. Stallings is responsible for the entire music program of the church. “We offer a full music program here at Grove Park. This is something my predecessor Judy Ritchie began. We offer program for our smallest youngsters through senior adult. HIS Royal Ringers, the hand bell choir is also a vital part of the church’s ministry.” shared Stallings. “I am also extremely fortunate to have so much musical talent in this church. Our organist Kathy Strapko and pianist Denise Scronce are simply marvelous and also easy to work with.”
Stallings also made note of the many others that share their talents either playing for pre-service or providing solos, duets, trios or quartets. “We also have a girls ensemble that one of our talented member lead.”
“It is amazing to see what people can do when they put their mind to accomplishing the task. Especially a volunteer group such as our choirs. I am fortunate because the choirs here are invested in what they are doing and are willing to put forth the effort to produce beautiful music in honor and worship of our God. For that I am most thankful,” remarked Stallings. The music minister expressed that she felt it so important to invest in the youth of the church. “I think it is vital for a church to spend time developing their young people. They are the future and next generation to lead the church in music. For this reason I am hoping to build our youth choir and allow them to share more in our joint worship,” shared Stallings.
Stallings also stressed that the graded choir program was not just for Grove Park members. “Our choir program is for the community and we have a lot of children participating because they have friends here who are members. We pick up a number of young people at school on the van each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when the various children choirs rehearse,” explained the choir director. “I feel that the children more easily learn scripture when it is a song. They learn verses from the Bible without even realizing it,” expressed the music minster.
The hours of time spent attending workshops, looking through music, preparing lessons for the children’s choirs, planning rehearsals and developing special programs for Christmas, Easter, graduation, baptistisms, and the list continues to grow and being prepared to lead the congregational music program is a big challenge for anyone. Stallings shares that she is up to that challenge and because of her love for her lord and her love for singing and playing, she is glad to be at Grove Park and serving Christ and the members of the church.
Members of her choirs and members of the congregation state that Stallings smiling disposition and musical talent is uplifting and inspiring as the music program at the church continues to grow.
To contact Billy Todd, call 910-592-8137 ext. 117, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org