Fairmont United Methodist Church • Raleigh NC

a mission-oriented community

Sunday Night LIVE! Turning 25!

Join us May 6 for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of SNL! Special guests include the Fairmont Gospel Revue, joined by Women of Faith and Randy Shepard, and Rev. Steve Hickle, who started it all! The FGR gets things started with a mini-concert starting at 6:30 PM. The service follows at 7:00 PM.

So where did Sunday Night LIVE! come from? As a group of the faithful “studied” ways to reach out beyond our walls, a vision of a new service emerged. Would it be Saturday night? Early Sunday? Or Sunday night? You guessed it! Sunday Night LIVE! is an obvious play on the name of a fairly (!) well-known program.

So how would we invite people to worship in an “alternative” (not contemporary, not traditional) way? We raised a set of questions: Did people find worship to be too formal? Too early?? Too dressed up??? Did we have a deal for you! This was to be a service that was informal, plenty late (for all but those who sleep past 7:00 pm), and was often called “the blue jean service.” Yes, that was in a time where blue jeans were seldom seen in morning worship.

Other principles came into play: Lots of music! Guest musicians of all (and I mean all) sorts and sounds! Messages that were upbeat. It was to be “recovery friendly,” offering a kind of “bridge” between the language of 12-step recovery and Christian faith. And when things worked right, it was supposed to be more fun than anybody ought to be allowed to have in church! Others will have to judge how well those things have worked, but a few things do come to mind.

Janice Hocutt. Wow. She began playing at this service in March of 1995 - 23 years ago! There’s at least a couple of pieces she probably plays in her sleep. Randy Shepard. Randy has brought to SNL! a greater variety, and a greater quality of musicians than any.place.in.town. Seriously. The Fairmont Gospel Revue. Who believed over 20 years ago this gang would still be playing “gospel jazz?” Some of you old timers will remember Brother John and his gospel banjo... he’s up in the mountains now.

The Healing Place/Healing Transitions. The little bus has enjoyed its riders since June of 2001... think of the lives Fairmont folks have gotten to touch along the way to recovery! We’ve stood and prayed together, and in solidarity with them, we’ve sung a version of The Serenity Prayer.

Cookies... on the way in! If you attend many churches, you’ll see this is catching on. In ancient times, as in my youth, cookies were one’s reward, but on the way out!

What are your memories? I hope you’re in the process of making some more - and may Sunday Night LIVE! always be more fun than anybody ought to be allowed to have in church!

  --- Steve Hickle, pastor, 1990-2012