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Fine Arts winner makes it to Hollywood

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 - 3:55 PM CST

Luke Edgemon
Edgemon

"American Idol" premiered its Hollywood Week on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, showcasing 181 contestants that survived the initial auditions and were back to prove themselves deserving of a spot on the hit television show.

North Carolina singer Luke Edgemon was one of those contestants sent to Hollywood after his Orlando audition.

"When I first realized that I'd made it to Hollywood, I felt like I was imagining it," Edgemon says. "Standing in front of the Idol judges and Kristen Chenoweth was surreal enough already."

Edgemon, who won first place in the Male Vocal Solo category at the Assemblies of God National Fine Arts Festival in 2006, says making it to Hollywood felt much like the first time he made it to second and third rounds in Nationals. "Something I had been trying to achieve for so many years had finally been attained ... I couldn't have been happier," he says.

"Being a part of National Fine Arts played a part in almost every aspect of my journey on American Idol," Edgemon says. According to Edgemon, little things throughout the competition reminded him of Fine Arts, such as the constant adjudication and calls to the stage.

Although sent home during American Idol's Hollywood week, he learned some valuable lessons from his Fine Arts experiences that prepared him for this situation.

"Rejection is also something that FAF taught me to deal with," he says. "While most people don't like to associate a negative word like that with the amazing things that come from Fine Arts, it is unfortunately an emotion most of us who participate have to deal with and overcome." 

"I am thankful to have learned, at a young age, that no matter what dismissal we face, we are still destined by God to walk in our calling. I focused on this particular bit of knowledge when I was released from the American Idol competition during Hollywood Week this year, and I have the 6 years I participated in National Fine Arts Festival to thank," Edgemon says.

Edgemon learned another lesson while preparing for his auditions that may come as a surprise to some - he gave up soft drinks and coffee, which could harm his voice. "I had a meeting with a local speech pathologist before going to Los Angeles, and she taught me that caffeine is extremely harmful to the vocal chords, as it dries them out significantly, and doesn't allow them to work to their fullest potential," he says.

Since his release from American Idol in January, Edgemon has secured a few singing opportunities: singing in churches throughout the United States, performing the national anthem at sporting events, and judging the district level of the Fine Arts Festival competition in a number of states.  He has also started recording a few covers for fun.

During his journey through Fine Arts, Edgemon attended Glad Tidings Church (AG) in Dunn, North Carolina. He does not attend the church anymore, however, sees himself as a member of quite a few AG churches throughout the country while he travels. "I travel as much as I can, ministering through songs that Jesus has blessed me with," Edgemon says.

As for season 10 auditions, Edgemon says he would definitely try out for American Idol again. "The entire process is insanely fun and interesting. From the travel, to the constant immersion in song, to meeting the most amazing people; the experience is like no other," he says.

"Right now, I am hoping that God brings me to something much bigger than American Idol in 2010. However, I walk through every door that I feel He holds the key to; and if nothing significant has taken my journey one step closer to the tremendous calling He has ordained for my life, then you can definitely expect to see me in those long lines again this fall."

Wherever Edgemon is singing, he is sure that his faith plays a part in his music. "My faith holds an esteemed role in my music. Before I sing a note, or even take a breath, I challenge myself to remember where my giftings and talents came from," he says. "Making music is my calling, and I cannot ever allow myself to forget that."

To hear some of Edgemon's music, visit his Myspace page.


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Luke Edgemon
Edgemon

"American Idol" premiered its Hollywood Week on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, showcasing 181 contestants that survived the initial auditions and were back to prove themselves deserving of a spot on the hit television show.

North Carolina singer Luke Edgemon was one of those contestants sent to Hollywood after his Orlando audition.

"When I first realized that I'd made it to Hollywood, I felt like I was imagining it," Edgemon says. "Standing in front of the Idol judges and Kristen Chenoweth was surreal enough already."

Edgemon, who won first place in the Male Vocal Solo category at the Assemblies of God National Fine Arts Festival in 2006, says making it to Hollywood felt much like the first time he made it to second and third rounds in Nationals. "Something I had been trying to achieve for so many years had finally been attained ... I couldn't have been happier," he says.

"Being a part of National Fine Arts played a part in almost every aspect of my journey on American Idol," Edgemon says. According to Edgemon, little things throughout the competition reminded him of Fine Arts, such as the constant adjudication and calls to the stage.

Although sent home during American Idol's Hollywood week, he learned some valuable lessons from his Fine Arts experiences that prepared him for this situation.

"Rejection is also something that FAF taught me to deal with," he says. "While most people don't like to associate a negative word like that with the amazing things that come from Fine Arts, it is unfortunately an emotion most of us who participate have to deal with and overcome." 

"I am thankful to have learned, at a young age, that no matter what dismissal we face, we are still destined by God to walk in our calling. I focused on this particular bit of knowledge when I was released from the American Idol competition during Hollywood Week this year, and I have the 6 years I participated in National Fine Arts Festival to thank," Edgemon says.

Edgemon learned another lesson while preparing for his auditions that may come as a surprise to some - he gave up soft drinks and coffee, which could harm his voice. "I had a meeting with a local speech pathologist before going to Los Angeles, and she taught me that caffeine is extremely harmful to the vocal chords, as it dries them out significantly, and doesn't allow them to work to their fullest potential," he says.

Since his release from American Idol in January, Edgemon has secured a few singing opportunities: singing in churches throughout the United States, performing the national anthem at sporting events, and judging the district level of the Fine Arts Festival competition in a number of states.  He has also started recording a few covers for fun.

During his journey through Fine Arts, Edgemon attended Glad Tidings Church (AG) in Dunn, North Carolina. He does not attend the church anymore, however, sees himself as a member of quite a few AG churches throughout the country while he travels. "I travel as much as I can, ministering through songs that Jesus has blessed me with," Edgemon says.

As for season 10 auditions, Edgemon says he would definitely try out for American Idol again. "The entire process is insanely fun and interesting. From the travel, to the constant immersion in song, to meeting the most amazing people; the experience is like no other," he says.

"Right now, I am hoping that God brings me to something much bigger than American Idol in 2010. However, I walk through every door that I feel He holds the key to; and if nothing significant has taken my journey one step closer to the tremendous calling He has ordained for my life, then you can definitely expect to see me in those long lines again this fall."

Wherever Edgemon is singing, he is sure that his faith plays a part in his music. "My faith holds an esteemed role in my music. Before I sing a note, or even take a breath, I challenge myself to remember where my giftings and talents came from," he says. "Making music is my calling, and I cannot ever allow myself to forget that."

To hear some of Edgemon's music, visit his Myspace page.


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Sacramento Church Becomes a Hub of Hope to its Community

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 - 10:23 AM CST

Ebenezer Christian Center food pantry
Ebenzer Christian Center in Sacramento, California, discovered that the hunger that existed in its community wasn't limited to the kids in their children's ministry. The church now distributes enough groceries for 11,000 to 14,000 meals a month.

When Karen Abrego first came to Ebenezer Christian Center (AG) in Sacramento, California, six years ago as an associate pastor, she was a very experienced children's worker and filled with confidence in her ability to reach children for Christ. 

But her confidence was quickly tested and then frustrated. She couldn't seem to get the children's attention, much less get them to settle down. Behavioral issues were rampant. Did the kids just not want to be there? Was it a lack of respect? What was she missing?

"I decided to kill them with kindness," Abrego says. "So, it was an Easter Sunday, and we made silver-dollar blueberry pancakes for the children." Moments later, the light went on for Abrego.

"When the children started to eat, I remembered hearing that sound before . . . it was this moaning sound as they ate — it was the same sound the malnourished children I had cared for in El Salvador made when they were fed," she says.

Albrego realized that many of the children were coming to church hungry.

Ebenezer Christian Center, a member of the Assemblies of God Northern Pacific Latin American District (NPLAD), is located in a low-income, high-crime part of south Sacramento. As Abrego investigated further, she discovered that the nearby elementary school was a Title I school and that 98 percent of the kids attending were on a reduced-rate or free-meal program. 

"The kids were coming to school and receiving breakfast and lunch five days a week, but on the weekends they were food poor," she says. Ironically Sacramento is known as a rich agricultural area, but the people living in the church's neighborhood didn't have the funds or transportation to readily access it — so they did without.

Pastor Dan and Dionna Garza
Pastor Dan and Dionna Garza

Understanding the need, Abrego met with Senior Pastor Dan Garza, and the church began serving healthy snacks to the children on Sunday mornings. They then partnered with a food bank to provide food for families through the church twice a month.

"In February, due to budget cuts, the elementary school lost the support of its food bank," Abrego says. "We went to our food bank and asked if they would pick up the school and its families — they agreed as long as we provided the volunteers." 

Ebenezer Christian Center has an attendance of 350-400. As many of those attending come from the community and understand (sometimes personally) the desperate need of so many of the neighborhood families, the church confidently agreed to the food bank's request for volunteers.

The church now gives away enough food for 11,000 to 14,000 meals each month.

Efraim Espinoza, director of AG Office Of Hispanic Relations, states, "Ebenezer Christian Center, under the leadership of Pastor Dan Garza, serves as a great testimony that the Assemblies of God wants to reach out in compassion to those around it." 

Although some may assume that because the church is a Hispanic church, its community is strictly Hispanic, Abrego quickly clarifies that the area is a "mixing pot" of multiple ethnicities, including Russian, Ukrainian, Filipino, Hispanic, Hmong and Middle Eastern — to name a few. 

Providing healthy snacks for the children on Sunday mornings has been transformational for the church as the children are now attentive. In addition, the food bank has made a huge impact on the church's community. The staff now calls their twice-monthly food distribution from the church their "Friday morning congregation."

Pastor Karen Abrego
Associate Pastor Karen Abrego with two gentlemen from the Ukraine who the church now ministers to through its food pantry.

"The difference between what we do and other food pantries do is that we pray over and with people who come," Abrego says. "The people ask us to pray for their needs. We recently had one woman come rushing in, not worried that she was going to miss getting her groceries, but that she had missed prayer!"

The efforts the church has made to supply groceries to the community has torn down walls, introduced people to the church, and built relationships between the community and church volunteers and staff.

"Now, I walk down the street and people are calling out to me, 'Hey PK [Pastor Karen]!'"

The school has also communicated its thankfulness, saying that children are better behaved and are able to learn more easily without the distraction of hunger. One teacher shared how thankful she was that she could direct parents who were needing food for their families to the church's food distribution at the school. 

NPLAD Superintendent Jesse Galindo affirms the efforts of the church by saying, "We need more pastors like Pastor Dan [Garza] that will empower and support their staff to fulfill the Great Commission through their specific ministry in the local church."

In addition to food ministry, Ebenezer Christian Center also has a ministry to the homeless, taking clothing to the homeless communities every other month; they have brought in registered nurses to give free flu shots; they've helped families register for healthcare; and opened their doors for all kinds of events to meet needs. 

"We're not a mega-church," Abrego says, "but we're consistently chipping away at the rock of poverty and making a difference in families and lives. We've become the hub of our community . . . , and isn't that what the church is supposed to be?"

 

Keywords: AG churches
Authors: Dan Van Veen

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