Jerry and Steve -ac allstars (Photo by Ashley Z)
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in the fall of 07’ there was a slight breeze blowing and I was driving to see an old friend. Jake Jones was the soundman at Fat Daddy’s & The Tourist Inn. As I walked into the room he smiled his familiar smile and we started to catch up on what each other had been doing since we had talked last. Jake began to explain that he had been hired to run sound at Fat Daddy’s on Sunday mornings for a new start up church. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I said, not knowing if he was pulling my leg or not. In all the years I had known Jake, I had never known him to talk much about church, so when he told me this story I was intrigued to say the least. He backed up his statement by telling me there was a story in the Sunday paper and I could check it out for myself. After I got home I looked for the paper and sure enough there was a story about a guy holding church services in Fat Daddy’s.
The next morning as I sat in the church I had been attending for over 25 years, I kept thinking about this new thing called Action Church. At my church I tried to be involved with things like special services and anything music related. I guess my style just didn’t fit with the conservative folks and it wasn’t long until I found myself asking why am I here? I’m pretty sure God has a purpose for me and I’m really sure music has a part in all of it but just not here, just not at this church. After going to the same church for that long, it was not an easy decision to just say “enough” and leave. I kept thinking that it must be something I’m doing wrong.
The newspaper story I had read gave the name of the guy doing this venture. I thought I’d call this guy and see if he needs any help. I was thinking if God wants me to do this, I get a sign somehow. So I called this guy Don Record and we agreed to meet for lunch at my favorite deli. (That’s really the name of the place “My Favorite Deli”, in Emigsville). When I walked in and looked around I saw this guy in painters paints looking around like a puppy in a pet store window. (Are you the guy…are you the guy…) I said, “Are you Don”, “yea you must be Jerry”! We sat down and he began to explain what Action Church was going to be about. I liked what I heard. A place where anyone could come, bands to open the service, doing stuff for others, church in a bar.
After a while he asked what I did and I explained my background and how Jake and I had played together in a band nearly 25 years ago and that for the past 15 years I had been in the media industry working with TV and music related projects. I had also been a musician and record producer for the past 30 years. I offered to do some promotion for the upcoming “test drive” and see if I could generate some attention for this wacky idea of church in a bar. It was go time! I wanted to see if this was what God had planned for me. Now after opening my big mouth, I had to deliver? I was excited but scared. Promoting a band or singing artist is one thing and I knew how to do that, but this was different, this was “church in a bar”
Calls were made, press releases written and emailed out and we waited. Sunday came and there were two TV stations and both local newspapers there to cover this “event” The band was loud, the music was great and Don gave a message that moved me. I had my answer; this was where I was supposed to be! Since that day over a year ago, I have seen people come to this “church in a bar” who may not have gone to a conventional church. I had a great sense of peace and accomplishment knowing that God had allowed me to be involved and to use my gifts to help someone else. I was helping myself in the process!
Several months later, Don had mentioned that we were out growing Fat Daddy’s and we needed to try and find a place that would allow us to continue the same format but offer more space and room to grow. God tapped me on the shoulder again, “I may know a place,” I said. “Let me check it out and get back to you”. My best friend is a guy named Steve Perko. I had managed his daughter Amanda for 8 years in the music business. We had traveled the road and ended up in Nashville (that’s another story for another time). During that time Stephen, Steve’s son had gotten very interested in having a nightclub. You see when Stephen wasn’t playing in Amanda’s band or his own (he’s a great drummer), he would set up shows in the garage we rented to store the tour bus. This went very well and before long, there were plans to build a new club. By now you know it as “Club 19” and after some talks, it became the new home for Action Church.
Over the past year Action Church has given me a place to serve, a sense of purpose and has taught me many lessons. The most important is, “It’s never about ME, it’s always about GOD”! Don, Michelle, Josiah, Garrett, Bill, Dave, Stephen and so many others accept me just as I am, and that’s a great feeling! It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year, it feels much more comfortable than that. It feels like home!