Music By Laurel Jean

Music By Laurel Jean
Music with a Message and a Mission

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Sharing God's Guiding Glimpses into my Life of Music and Ministry

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Charleston Strong

A Note From Laurel Jean

On Wednesday June 17, a young man walked thru the open doors of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church here in Charleston, SC. He was welcomed with open arms. After attending Bible study and hearing the prayers of those gathered there, he deliberately and maliciously snuffed out the lives of nine of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ. They included the pastor, other ministers in the church and pillars of the community at large.

I have lived and served God in the beautiful city of Charleston, SC for almost seven years now. In 2009, I was honored when the principal of an elementary school attended by one of the blind youth whom I mentored invited me to be among the presenters for the school's celebration of Black History Month. Rev. Clemente Pinckney was the main speaker for the event. I was blessed to shake his hand and speak with him.

I have served here in Charleston alongside people of all races, ethnicities and ages, on all walks of life, with different abilities and disabilities. God has anointed and blessed this work for God's glory: the establishment of Charleston's first and only Christian outreach center for the blind; the offering of presentations for sighted inner-city youth attending summer camp; the leading of worship in churches, on Charleston's city streets and even on the city buses. I have come to witness firsthand the magnanimous spirit of Christian unity that is the true image of Charleston, SC.

In our unspeakable shock, horror, grief and anger, we still take heart. We know that we will see our nine brothers and sisters in Heaven one day, when we too are among that one glorious, colorful gathering of all the saints at our Lord's table. Please join me in continuing to pray for the healing of the congregation of Emmanuel AME Church and for the healing of this beloved "holy city by the sea." Pray for the perpetrator's family and for his soul. Let us also pray for the work that is yet to be done within the One Body of Christ here on earth. Let us ask God to put each of us where God would have us, and give us all that we need to do our Savior's work.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear..." (I John 4:18)

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; pursued, yet not forsaken, struck down, yet not destroyed; always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:8)

"...Behold my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my father who is in Heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:49-50)

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support. God bless you, and keep His Song in your heart.

Winter/Spring, 2015 Highlights

Laurel with United Methodist Women of Latta, SC

It has been a busy year as I continue to serve our Lord here in Charleston, SC. 2015 began with a train trip a little further inland to the town of Latta, SC, where I presented on the topic of "The Church and People With Disabilities" for the Marion, SC district of United Methodist Women.

Top Dog opening ceremonies

Laurel and Audrey at Top Dog opening ceremonies

I got back to Charleston just in time to help with last-minute preparations for the 2015 Southeast Region Top Dog Workshop, held in Charleston from January 30 thru February 1. Over 150 guests, the majority being blind and having traveled to the convention independently with their guide dogs, came from all four corners of the continental United States. It was such a special weekend of Christian fellowship, delicious Lowcountry cuisine, informative workshops, helpful exhibits, lots of fun and fabulous furries. My honor and privilege was to serve as program chair, registrar, emcee and guest musician for this truly blessed event.

In February, I accepted the paid position of Interim Pianist for the congregation of Grace United Methodist Church, Charleston, SC. My term began on February 15 and ended on Easter Sunday April 5th. During these weeks, I worked together with the organist and music director Kim Harris, providing congregational music as well as special music. Additionally, I learned and memorized a large variety of music in order to be the piano accompanist for the children's choir, adult chancel choir and the Mass Choir of all ages presenting Good Friday's cantata.

After Easter, it was time to begin concentrating on recertification as a study leader for "The Church and People With Disabilities." There was much reading to be done and an online "webinar" to attend. There were essay questions to answer. Ironically, there were also battles to be fought when it became apparent that elements of the course itself were inaccessible to the blind study leaders who would be among those teaching it.

I had originally planned a trip to my home state of IL in May and had several engagements scheduled. A couple of days before I was scheduled to leave, I caught some sort of "crud" which caused me to lose my voice and made me extremely tired. After much thought and prayer, I made the decision to cancel/postpone my trip. Engagements have been rescheduled for July. Stay tuned to my Events page for more information.

Thanks for your ongoing prayers and support. God bless you and keep His Song in your heart.

Fall/Winter, 2014 Highlights

Dixie Landers at Dinner in the Dark

MY 2014 fall schedule began with another Dinner In The Dark hosted by Dixie Land Guide Dog Users and Grace United Methodist Church, Charleston, SC. I am pictured here with my fellow Dixie Landers and their guides at this eye-opening event. I provided dinner music and served as emcee as guests from the greater Charleston area experienced eating a delicious spaghetti dinner without seeing it.

Laurel at Garrett UCC with Music Director Ramona Carlyle

Here I am with Music DIRECTOR Ramona Carlyle at ZION United Church of Christ, Garrett, IL. My heartfelt thanks to all who helped make possible my 2014 fall tour of music and ministry in Central and Southern Illinois and Missouri.

Laurel and James at Association Holiday Party

Back in Charleston, it was an honor and a privilege to provide dinner music on behalf of Dixie Land Guide Dog Users for the Holiday Party of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The 2014 celebration was extra special for me as I was joined by James, my brother in Christ and one of my all-time favorite percussionists.

God's gift of music allows me to bless and be blessed in so many ways, and I thank God for that gift every day. God bless you, and keep His Song in your heart.

A Little About Me

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God continues to bless me with a busy and fulfilling life. Even after thirty-plus years, my music and ministry keep going and growing. Blind from birth, I am n avid user of Braille and the long, white cane, in addition to a variety of mainstream and access technology. While my blindness does not define me, I consider it to be a unique gift from God. With this gift comes my opportunity to serve as an advocate on behalf of my fellow members of the Blindness community, living and serving among blind and sighted folks of all ages, on all walks of life. To learn more about my music, ministry and outreach, please visit my Web site, and be sure to stay tuned to my Blog!