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St. Bethlehem United Methodist Church’s Youth praise band ‘Marked’ with Top Honors at Conference

Written by Melony Shemberger
St. Bethlehem United Methodist Church

St. Bethlehem United Methodist ChurchClarksville, TN – When a new youth praise band was formed at St. Bethlehem United Methodist Church three years ago, there was much work to do.

Two of the original members of the band, named Marked, were still in the learning stages of playing their instruments – Webb Booth on guitar and Austin Robertson on drums.

A couple of years later, three more members joined, and their ability to play instruments also was limited. Yet through commitment, perseverance and love – which also describes the journey in their Christian faith – the band has joined the ranks of being among the best youth praise bands in the state.

Members of the Marked Praise Band (from left, Zach Pine, Webb Booth, Myndi Leazer, Austin Robertson and Ally Robertson) perform in front of more 2,000 participants at the Warmth in Winter youth ministry conference held Jan. 28th in Murfreesboro, TN. (Photo by Melony Shemberger)
Members of the Marked Praise Band (from left, Zach Pine, Webb Booth, Myndi Leazer, Austin Robertson and Ally Robertson) perform in front of more 2,000 participants at the Warmth in Winter youth ministry conference held Jan. 28th in Murfreesboro, TN. (Photo by Melony Shemberger)

On January 28th, Marked won the Battle of the Bands contest at the Tennessee United Methodist Church Warmth in Winter conference in Murfreesboro Tennessee.

The win allowed the band to perform to the entire conference delegation of 2,000-plus attendees. The band achieved the top spot over four other bands, all finalists in the contest. To be considered for the contest, bands had to submit a video of their performance. More than 20 bands applied.

“Playing up on stage in front of all those people was such an honor and a thrill,” Robertson, a 15-year-old sophomore at Northeast High School, said. “I’m glad to be a part of worship and helping people praise God. I love leading worship with the Marked Praise Band. I feel as if it is something that God wants me to do. Playing with Marked is one of my favorite things to do and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us in the future.”

His sister, Ally Robertson, 13, an eighth-grader at Northeast Middle School, plays keyboard and sings in the band.

“I was so nervous waiting for them to announce the winner. When they called our name all of my butterflies seemed to disappear,” she said. “While I was playing, all my cares just went away. All I thought about was worshipping God through what I do best. Being in Marked gives me a better way to connect with God through our music. All of the lyrics in the songs speak to me in new ways every time I hear them. It’s a real honor to lead worship in Marked.”

Since the contest, Marked – a name chosen in 2009 during Ash Wednesday service when members were “marked” with the ashes forming the cross – has received invitations to perform at other events in the region.

But the rise to No. 1 was not easy. Although each member has learned to play solely to praise God with their music, Marked was having difficulties working as one musically. Then in January 2011, the band’s transformation began when a new director, John Nicolosi, was hired to lead the church’s music ministry.

“Since coming aboard January of last year, I have witnessed these young people flourish and blossom. They have evolved musically, spiritually and individually and have truly become leaders in the church and mentors to all young people who hear them,” he said. “I’m grateful for the support they’ve received from the congregation at St B. for which otherwise they would not have had the opportunity to be where they are. “

In addition to Booth, 17, a junior at Rossview High School, and the Robertsons, Marked includes Myndi Leazer, 17, a senior at Northeast High School on vocals and keyboard, and Zach Pine, 15, a freshman at Rossview High School on guitar.

Marked plays during Sunday services at 10:00am at St. Bethlehem United Methodist Church, located on Old Russellville Pike in Clarksville, TN.

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