‘SoulJourn’ shakes up Roser services

‘SoulJourn’ shakes up Roser services
Derrick Williams, center, joins Rev. Neil Crowell and Rev. Dr. Bob O’Keef as the new Praise and Worship Leader at Roser Memorial Community Church in Anna Maria. - Kristin Swain | Sun

ANNA MARIA – The pastoral staff at Roser Memorial Community Church is shaking things up, first with the addition of new Praise and Worship Leader Derrick Williams and second with the addition of a new contemporary service on Sunday evenings beginning Oct. 6.

SoulJourn, a casual contemporary service, will be held Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. beginning Oct. 6, though a preview of the new service will be held in place of the regular 10 a.m. service on Sunday, Sept. 15.

“We’re very excited,” Rev. Neil Crowell said of the new worship service. “This is something that we’ve worked on for two and a half years. I think it’s just a blessing to have Derrick here.”

Williams joins Roser part-time. In addition to his new position, he’s also the host, creative director and musical director of the weekly music television show “The Gospel Voice” on The Christian Television Network and performs on Sunday’s Soulful Supper. He currently holds the title of Best of the Bay winner for Best Vocalist, Pianist, Singer/Songwriter and Jazz Ensemble.

Williams, who lives in Brandon with his wife Julie and daughter Jordan, said that of all the opportunities offered to him, he felt led through prayer by the Lord to come to Roser and help lead the new worship service.

“I prayed a lot about this,” he said, adding that his wife helped him explore the option of working at Roser and supports his decision. “I’ve learned to listen to my wife.”

“I come from the Baptist south where there was a church on every block,” he said, adding that as a preacher’s son he was brought up both in the church and surrounded by musicians. After joining the military, he said he returned and became a family man. Previously, he’s also been a teacher at a Catholic school, award-winning musician and performer. Williams said he’s been entertaining audiences for more than 30 years. One of his favorite ways to teach and to entertain is through his love of music and his talent of playing the piano, something he hopes to bring to the new Roser service with the help of some talented vocalists and musicians in the community.

The music for the service will be led by Williams while the teachings will be done by Rev. Dr. Bob O’Keef and associate pastor Crowell.

“Roser has done a spectacular job through the years of celebrating traditional worship and we do a really good job of it and it’s a ministry that reaches a lot of people but we’re aware that a contemporary style of worship would attract a whole ‘nother group of people that we’re not reaching. And so, we wanted to offer that new style at the same time that we’re keeping what has worked so well for us,” O’Keef said. “A lot of churches have made the mistake of abandoning their traditional and going all contemporary. We don’t want to do that. We want to do both. We want to offer both and we want to celebrate both styles. The new style of worship will certainly be dramatically different. One of the things, of course, is the style of music. That’s one of the major differences.”

In addition to well-known hymns, Williams said people can also expect to hear gospel, funk, acoustic, jazz, rock and other types of music. He’s really hoping for horn players to join the musicians at Roser. He said he’s really looking for local musicians who want to come share their gifts with the community.

“I think what we can promise folks who come is a really powerful music experience and a really powerful biblical experience,” O’Keef said. “We’re not going to make the mistake that some churches have made of dumbing down the faith. We want our service to be very biblical and one that is also very contemporary in terms of how we experience God’s presence. I think that’ll be really good stuff.”

Roser is looking for volunteers for the new service including musicians, vocalists and anyone willing to work behind the scenes, such as a stage manager. In a talk with The Sun, Williams said he’s open to anyone who wants to share their gifts with the community, including actors, dancers and other individuals. For more information, call 941-778-0414, email [email protected] or visit www.roserchurch.com/souljourn. Roser is at 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.