. . . with husband Thom
May 12, 2009
She grew up in a musical Christian family, Dr. Melissa Pratt told Putnam Rotarians today.
"We were a singing family." said the Senior Pastor of the Teays Valley Church of God.
"I played the violin and clarinet. My sister played flute. Mom played the piano. Brother and Dad played trumpet. Brother played drums."
At Anderson University she studied saxophone and voice before taking a degree in music education.
In Nicosia, Cyprus, she labored two years in the mission field. "While I was there," she said, "I became part of a house church that needed a piano player.
"I became exposed to a lot of worship styles, and worshiped with people from a lot of Christian backgrounds. It was a great foundational building time for me as a person in ministry."
She earned a Master's Degree in Church Music at Asbury Theological Seminary, and served twelve years in Cincinnati before her appointment as senior pastor with the Teays Valley Church of God in 2007.
Pratt recognizes the power of music as a "connecting tool" in worship. "At our church, our music is a lot like a wedding," she said, paraphrasing an old rhyme. "There's something old, something new, something borrowed, and something bluegrass," she quipped with a nod to the many varieties of sacred music..
"Through musical expression, we want to experience joy, the aura of God's presence.
"We want people to know that God is amazing; He is magnificent; that it is a joy to belong to Him; and to love Him and to serve Him.
"The first impression that (visitors) have about our church is the music. Just as in your business or place of work you want to put your best foot forward . . . we use music in that way."
In addition, music provides a way for people to "be involved" in the worship.
Then there is the spiritual uplift it can bring. Praise and worship music is Scripture put to song, she says. "Music has that inspirational quality which helps people, in the words of the psalmist, to 'lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.'"
But more important than Impression, Involvement, Inspiration, and Instruction, is the Impact of music on the worshiper. "That is the real goal of music in the church," she says. It brings everything together in the worship experience.
"It leads to a transformation; it allows our lives to be changed as we progress in our relationship with our Creator and Sustainer.
"The goal of music is not a 'church connection' -- although I welcome anyone -- the goal is a 'God connection.' Through the gift of music that God created we can offer Him back our love and devotion through our music and worship."
In her outreach ministry, Pratt has played piano for the Hurricane High "Red Hot" championship show choir; she has provided free voice lessons in the community. And on occasion she has offered -- a capella, no less -- songs of comfort at bedsides of the sick and dying.
Pratt encourages her church to perform a couple of cantatas each year. And special groups visit from time to time with appeal to people with a broad variety of musical tastes.
She recognized her husband who was in the audience. "Next to serving the Lord," she said, "my greatest joy is being Mrs. Thom Pratt."
Thom is a "church health" consultant and a Christian counselor through Prestera.
The Pratts have two children, ages nine and seven.