Gungor stops in Waco, leads Chapel in worship

Gungor and guest Kevin Olusola on cello lead Baylor Chapel sessions in worship Monday at Waco Hall. Gungor and Olusola are on tour with the David Crowder Band.Grace Gaddy | Lariat Reporter
Gungor and guest Kevin Olusola on cello lead Baylor Chapel sessions in worship Monday at Waco Hall. Gungor and Olusola are on tour with the David Crowder Band.
Grace Gaddy | Lariat Reporter

By Grace Gaddy

Chapel attendants heard a message combined with melodies Monday morning in Waco Hall. The service featured a 45-minute concert with rising Christian worship band Gungor.

The group, which consists of singer-songwriters Michael and Lisa Gungor, took listeners on a spiritual journey examining life’s questions, offering reflections and praising the creator through lyric and original song.

Sounds ranged from an acoustic blend of vocals, piano and guitar to the soothing bells of a glockenspiel, a German instrument similar to a xylophone.

Also contributing to their collaboration was Kevin Olusola, a guest on tour, who combined years of classical cello experience with a backdrop of modern beatboxing.

Olusola is also featured as a contestant on this season of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” which airs at 7 p.m. Mondays. He is one of a five-member team from Arlington, known as Pentatonix.

Baylor’s Chapel event marked a special stop for the Grammy-nominated band Gungor, said Ryan Richardson, associate chaplain and director of worship.

When he heard the band would be playing nearby with David Crowder’s “7 Tour,” also featuring John Mark McMillian and Chris August, he asked if they would bring their musical gift to Baylor’s campus. They agreed.

Michael said he hopes the music will open students’ hearts to the personalized message God wants to send each of them.

“Art to me—what I love about it—is there’s room for different interpretations,” he said. “So I hope that people take different things away from it. … I hope that God speaks through that somehow.”

One of the things Gungor members said they personally hope to emphasize is the need for Christians to rise up and make a difference in the world around them, particularly in matters of social justice.

While the music in worship — spiritual in nature — can definitely carry with it that “goose bumps experience,” it also encompasses so much more, he said.

“If that spiritual experience with God doesn’t lead me to go out to be sent into the world as salt, as light, as an agent of change, as somebody bringing hope and life and peace and love and all that we are supposed to be into the world, then we are wasting our breath, I think,” Michael said.

To this, he added that he hopes students will see the bigger picture — and music can provide the lens.

“There’s something about music that gets into the soul, that gets people beyond just the surface of circumstances and the chaos of, ‘I’ve got a test in an hour,’” he said.

In that moment, it is important to remember that there’s a bigger picture and a larger story, he said.

It has to do with seeing “that we’re all a part of this beautiful thing together, we’re family, we’re loved by God,” he said, adding that to connect with God in that sense is to ultimately connect with humanity.

“As you become more human, you can’t help but be aware of what’s around you,” Michael said. When God’s love and hope takes root in a person’s heart, it spreads, he said.

Music can provide an avenue for people to experience that impact, both for themselves and their world, Michael said.

“As we have these moments of worship with spirituality in the center, our hope is that people’s hearts are softened — opened both to God and to each other and to themselves,” he said.

The tour will cover several cities across America, with the final show on Nov. 13 at the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center in Jackson, Miss.