Published March 6, 2014
ATHENS — On Dec. 29 Curtis Murdock concluded more than 25 years of service as the minister of music at Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens. Sherron Mills, one of the church’s choir members, calls it “the end of an era.”
Curtis, his wife Georganne, and son Winston began ministry at Beech Haven in July of 1988, coming from Clarkston Baptist Church. Prior to that he served Northwood Hills Baptist Church in Northport, AL (1973-1977) and Jackson First Baptist Church (1977-1981). Georganne serves as Beech Haven’s pianist.
Stewart Sims, who served as Beech Haven’s senior pastor during most of Murdock’s ministry, explained, “Curtis is an incredibly gifted minister of Jesus Christ. He has a high commitment to personal righteousness. He was a servant to the entire congregation. He is humble and loyal as a staff member and friend.”
Steps to Athens
A Georgia native, Murdock was raised in East Point. He attended The University of Alabama on a full music scholarship and earned two bachelor’s degrees in music performance and music education and a master’s degree music education.
He also served on the adjunct music faculty at The University of Alabama, Columbus College, and Mercer University, Atlanta. After answering God’s call to the ministry, he also attended New Orleans Seminary-North Georgia Center.
In his role as Beech Haven’s minister of music, Murdock led the sanctuary choir, orchestra, youth choir, and hand bell choirs in rehearsal and Sunday worship services. In addition, he led numerous annual Christmas, Easter/spring, and patriotic seasonal presentations. Murdock is highly regarded as a hand bell specialist and regularly leads hand bell workshops and conferences across the Southeast.
Murdock’s service to Beech Haven Church included pastoral care, occasional administrative duties, several terms as interim minister of education, Vacation Bible School staff coordinator, director of summer children’s camp, acting minister of senior adults, many mission trips (some including the choir), serving as a liaison to the missions committee, stewardship committee, and as an avid supporter of the Athens Area Home School Band, which meets at Beech Haven Church.
Murdock has been active in Georgia Baptist Convention life, including a term on the GBC Executive Committee, a member of the Georgia Baptist Church Music Conference (including two terms as vice president), an active participant in Sons of Jubal (including two terms as president and 12 years as hand bell director), and Jubalheirs.
He also has participated in mission trips that these groups have taken, including trips to Costa Rica, New York, Germany, Russia, and Moldova. He also has written extensively for music publications of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Sherry Reed, who has been involved in many facets of the music ministry, testified, “Curtis has a servant’s heart. He is most generous with his time and talents. Any time I asked him for help, he did far more than I asked and always with a joyful attitude.”
Wayne Jordan, a Beech haven deacon, teacher, and choir member, commented, “Curtis was more than a ‘worship leader,’ but a ‘minister of music’ in the truest sense. His contributions to Beech Haven far exceeded the realm of music although he was especially gifted in that area.”
Jordan continued, “A hallmark of Curtis was the continual reminder that soloists, choir members, and instrumentalists were neither volunteer nor performers, but that they were exercising their calling to lead in worship.
“As our church experienced transition in worship styles and a two-year interim without a senior pastor, Curtis exhibited an amazing spirit of spiritual maturity, teamwork, and leadership. In everything it was Curtis’ desire, through music, to bring an offering of praise to God.”
Mills echoes Jordan’s sentiments by saying, “Curtis has been my minister, not just my music minister. I cannot count the times he has been there for my family or me. He has seen us through health scares, job loss, weddings, funerals, and much more. He has listened without judging, provided advice when needed, or just allowed me to vent if that is what I needed. I always knew he was someone whose integrity I could trust without question.
“I have loved singing (and ringing) under his direction. I appreciate the way he led us to be the best we could be. I know the excellence he pursued was not for us, but for the glory of God.”
Beech Haven honored the Murdocks in a retirement celebration during the morning worship service followed by a retirement reception on Sunday, Dec. 15.
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