Tony Cummings reports on a unique scheme where local church worship composers get a chance to have their songs professionally recorded and released on an album series.

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"I met Chris Bowater and we became firm friends very quickly. Through attending songwriting days at dB Studios, he introduced me to the 'Re-leased' project. It is a great concept and offers grassroots writers and performers a chance to get their music heard without breaking the bank."

Mark Picken
Mark Picken

"One Thing Remains The Same (Though The Tides)" on 'Re-leased 4' (2006)

"I was born in Birmingham. An incident at junior school led to a personal trauma which made me consciously at enmity with God and feel I had to make it on my own. Soon afterwards we moved to Nottingham to live but my standpoint remained and grew to cynicism toward both God and the world around me. It was not a happy place to be but I sensed no alternative. It took another trauma to change things for it showed me I could not make it alone. About this time, I was invited to a friend's wedding back in Birmingham. I was challenged by a banner put over the church entrance that morning by the pastor, John Bedford, that read, 'Jesus loves you - you can meet him here'. Through that, the witness of a united, praising congregation of white and West Indian families and a tangible sense of a 'presence' I later realised was his, I did! 26 years on, with a lot of highs and lows, I'm still around and so is he. I currently live just south of Nottingham and worship at Trent Vineyard, which is a growing, contemporary fellowship in the city.

"I first met Chris Bowater in 1989 and have had a measure of contact through the years primarily through courses he's run and the Grapevine celebrations at Lincolnshire Showground. Chris invited me to submit entries for the 'Re-leased 4' project. At first I was unsure but further encouragement by another friend prompted me to send a demo. This will be the first song on a CD. I have had songs used in services on local radio but that was 20 years ago.

"The song 'One Thing Remains The Same (Though The Tides)' is a back to basics song for me. It has come out of an ever growing realisation that though circumstances, seasons, life, people can change, even in short spaces of time, God's love is consistent. He is available for all who look to him and acknowledge what love really is, not that we loved him but that he loved us and sent his Son."

Mark Rowe
Mark Rowe

"New Every Morning" on 'Re-leased 2' (2004)

"I am aged 49, am married to Lesley and have two sons aged 24 and 21. I was involved in a family cabaret act as a teenager in the Blackpool area. I became a merchant navy officer and latterly a financial consultant. I had a 'Damascus Road' encounter with God in 1979 which changed my life completely. I began writing songs and using them evangelistically in local prison and non-church based meetings. I was involved in different aspects of church leadership, but not worship. In 1986 I moved to Lincolnshire and in 1992 started my own financial services company. In 1994 I developed an incurable illness leaving me deaf and with no balance function on one side. I had to give up home and business and learn to walk again. At this low point, God spoke prophetically that I would go to the nations and teach them to worship. I began leading worship at a small fellowship and met Chris Bowater through his International School of Creative Ministries. Through Chris's teaching, encouragement and connections, I went to Bosnia and Croatia with a Christian band soon after the Balkans conflict. I have subsequently travelled extensively, teaching and leading worship. Recently I recorded an album, 'OrdinaryextraOrdinary' at dB Studios, my testimony in song, with a booklet to raise funds for charity. I am currently pastoring a new church in Alford, Lincolnshire. Also, with my wife I have started a new Christian business to release funds into God's Kingdom.

"I began songwriting as a teenager as I found this was my way of expressing myself, my thoughts and feelings. It was therefore a natural progression for me to use this mechanism to express my gratitude to God and to tell others of his grace and love. The song 'New Every Morning' came during a prolonged period of trying to cope with illness. I awoke one morning to find the sun streaming into the room and was just overwhelmed by a sense of God's presence and love for me. I penned the song there and then whilst lying in bed.

"Chris Bowater is a very close friend and mentor who encouraged me to record my songs. After I recorded 'OrdinaryextraOrdinary', Chris asked me if I would like to put a track on the 'Re-leased 2' album. I believe the 'Re-leased' concept is a marvellous way of helping and promoting new songwriters and their material and is typical of Chris's selfless paternalistic nature which has fathered a whole generation of new talent." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.