A group of Wylie students didn’t let COVID-19 keep them from spreading a message of hope this spring.
When the virus forced churches to close, they took their student-led worship band on the road, hosting drive-in worship services at four different locations, including one in the parking lot of Wylie High School.
“We felt called to do something during this time,” said Mason Kerby, who sings and plays guitar in the band. “People need their worship time.”
Prior to COVID-19, Mason and a few friends had formed a band and hosted some worship nights at various churches. But when the virus shut down church gatherings, the students came up with the idea of having a drive-in worship.
They contacted Hendrick Medical Center about doing it in the hospital parking lot for hospital personnel. Piano player Daniel Hervey said God just brought the whole thing together.
“It was just supposed to be three people playing,” he said. “We decided two nights before that we were going to have a full band. The only reason it went so well is because of God. It should not have gone as well as it did. It was crazy. We thank God for that.”
The parking lot was overflowing with cars (parked with a space in between each one for safety), and hospital staff came out to watch. Volunteers helped with equipment, and the band played from a flatbed trailer.
“We were mind blown by how many people showed up,” Mason said. “It was way more than we expected.”
Also during the worship service, Daniel was re-baptized in a kiddie pool on the trailer.
“I got baptized when I was 7 and didn’t really understand what it meant,” he said. “I was going through the motions of Christianity. I went on a mission trip over Spring Break, and it really just changed my life. I wanted to recommit my life to Christ.”
Mason said the worshipers really supported Daniel’s baptism.
“As soon as that happened all the cars in the parking lot were honking for him,” Mason said. “It was really cool. The hospital staff was able to come outside and worship, and it really blessed them, which is awesome.”
Mason and Daniel are part of a student-led ministry called Twelve21 Ministries that was born out of their efforts to form a worship band.
“We got on a Zoom call with a bunch of people who we knew would want to serve,” Mason said. “We said we want to see a change in Abilene. The best way we could do that was form a ministry that is student-led. We feel the best way that we can serve is through worship.”
In addition to Mason and Daniel, Zach New plays the drums, Kirstyn Elliott sings, Kade Killion plays electric guitar, Kara Ammons sings and Karson Grigsby sings and speaks. Karson who will attend Wylie this coming year, and Kirstyn is homeschooled. The others are all Wylie students.
Wylie student Joshua Hervey is the audio technician, and Wylie students Trent Degering, Andrew Stovall, Grant Bristow and Carson Tucker volunteer with Twelve21 Ministries. Ministry members who attend other schools are Ella Whillhelm, Berkley Paul, Shalee Caspell, Kloe Pursley, Avery Holloway and Micah Holloway.
Beltway staff member Brad Gilley helps the students with sound equipment.
Zach said he loves the fact that the ministry includes students who go to different schools and different churches.
“It’s all one church; it’s all one people,” he said. “It’s all God’s people.”
Although the students had only planned to do the one drive-thru worship, they ended up doing three more – one in Hawley, one in Merkel and one in the parking lot of Wylie High School.
“It was going to be a one and done thing, but God opened doors,” Mason said. “It was crazy. It was really a blessing.”
At one of the events, Mason debuted a worship song that he wrote himself.
“My song is called ‘Bow Down’,” he said. “It is about how through the midst of everything, there is still time for worship. We played it at Merkel like a week after I wrote it.”
The students didn’t get a lot of practice time prior to the worship services because of social distancing requirements. They practiced in parking lots, so they could maintain their distance.
Mason said he played his song for his fellow band members during one of those practices.
“They loved it,” he said. “We got to work and wrote different parts for different instruments. All of a sudden, we were playing it. It was really cool, and it seemed like the audience liked it.”
Mason, who won an Abilene Idol competition singing country music, said his experiences with worship ministry have changed his career plans.
“I would love to be a worship leader somewhere,” he said. “I’ve been getting involved with my church leading worship, and it has really gotten me excited for the future. I would love for my future to involve music and ministry.”
Zach and Daniel said they too would like to go into some type of ministry.
“We all enjoy what we do, so when we see other people taking from it,” Zach said, “it really blesses us to see the fact that God is using us, is using our gifts to help other people.”
For now though, the group, most of whom are high school juniors, hopes to continue to grow Twelve21 Ministries and pass it down to other students once they graduate.
“We are going to be open minded and have pure hearts and do whatever God is willing for us to do,” Mason said. “Whatever doors God opens, that’s where we are going to go.”