Rev. Randy Lohr, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Richmond, has been interested in playing and writing music since his early days of middle school when he penned his first song for a childhood crush.
This past summer Pastor Lohr was granted sabbatical from his church for three months. A time that allowed him to pursue his passion for music and record a 2-CD set filled with original songs called "All My Life I've Been Waiting".
Bishop James Mauney explains that "A sabbatical is a great opportunity for a pastor to rest and renew their soul, heart, mind and body."
"A wonderful way of doing that is taking theology and turning it into music and using the gifts that God has given you by trying something new and doing it for the glory of God."
Sabbatical is not only a time to step away from everyday responsibilities and find rest, that extra time allows pastors to pursue passions that have been put on the shelf for years or even decades.
"It's the right amount of time to give yourself a chance to focus on something that you haven't had a chance to pursue, for me it's music," said Pastor Lohr.
From third grade piano lessons to learning to play "Stairway to Heaven" on his mother's old, tossed-aside guitar, music has been constant in his life.
With musical influences like the Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and the Who, he leans towards music with thought provoking lyrics. Now Pastor Lohr would categorize his own music as Folk Rock or Americana but he has tried out several different styles and subject matter for his songs over the years.
"In college I went through a deepening of my faith, and for a while there were songs coming out of that experience and my zeal for the Lord," he said.
After graduating from William and Mary, Randy took a year to volunteer with Lutheran Youth Encounter (now shortened to just Youth Encounter) where he was able to take his music on the road. He traveled around the U.S. with a team of young adults to put on concerts at youth ministry events in Lutheran churches across the country.
"It was at this point that I started carrying a song book," he said.
Soon a new season of life was at his door that brought with it seminary, a lovely bride, and children. With changing life experiences his song writing now had new influences as he entered his first call in the parish.
Over the years he continued to accumulate a number of songs and began to not only share them with friends and family members but he has also used his original tunes in worship.
"The folks at Christ the King, with the handful of songs that I have used, have encouraged me to do something more with them," he said.
As the idea of potentially recording his music during sabbatical began to turn into a reality, Randy balanced feelings of excitement and nervousness. With any moment of vulnerability there is a twinge of anxiety when you share your creative work with others. But his congregation has been incredibly supportive through the whole process.
"I really couldn't have done this without my congregation," he said. "First off of by providing me sabbatical and then by also financially supporting me."
|The cover art of Pastor Randy Lohr's newly recorded 2-CD set|
The title of the finished 2-CD set, "All my Life I've been waiting", is from a song on one of the CD's which was written about Simeon, who had been waiting for the Messiah for his entire life before he finally saw the infant Jesus.
"I wrote the song from the perspective of the old person who has been waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. The line that gets repeated is "All My Life I've Been Waiting" which also fits well with this whole project with the fact that these are songs I've been waiting to record for some time."
"One CD in the set is "Life" which includes songs about my life experiences and my family. The 2nd CD, which is called "Word", includes songs based on scripture that I tried to interpret in song."
The CDs will be released on Nov. 1st at a concert at Christ the King Lutheran Church featuring Randy Lohr and the Sabbatical Band. Everyone is invited but if you are unable to make the CD release event, you can email him for a copy at email@example.com and soon his recordings will also be available online.