TEMPLE TERRACE — Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church is introducing New Orleans flavor to its Sunday services this weekend.
A seven-piece band with the church’s senior pastor, Wally Meyer, on banjo plans to offer the congregation a religious experience not often seen in the Tampa area.
“We are holding a New Orleans-style, Dixieland music worship service,” Meyer said.
Meyer, the spiritual leader at Christ Our Redeemer for 14 years, said his love for music predates his call to the ministry.
He recruited six other area musicians, including three church members, to provide the musical entertainment at the church’s 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday services for this week only.
“I’m a banjo player, so that’s how we got it started,” Meyer said.
Several months ago the band played a Dixieland version of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” then decided to add more traditional hymns to perform an entire worship service, Meyer said.
Joining Meyer on banjo will be his friend, Charley Borns, of Eustis. The other band members are pianist Betty Chester, trumpet player Jay Coble, trombonist Tom Brantley, upright bass player Jeff Jones, and clarinet player Caleb Murray. Chester, Coble and Jones also are attend Christ Our Redeemer.
“We have excellent musicians in the congregation, and this is a good way to put them to use,” Meyer said.
Sunday’s performance will mark the band’s second appearance at the church. They performed there early this year.
Meyer said they are returning due to popular demand.
“I have been amazed how people have been receptive to it,” the pastor said.
The band will play tradition religious hymns, but in a Dixieland style.
I just think it brightens the worship to where the music fits the good news of Jesus,” Meyer said.
Their playlist will include “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “When the Saints go Marching In,” “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” and “Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho.”
There will be other familiar hymns and some not so familiar, he said.
Christ our Redeemer Lutheran Church at 304 Druid Hills Road is a 27-year-old congregation rooted in tradition. An organist accompanies congregational singing.
This year the church added worship services featuring bluegrass music, and now the occasional Dixieland-style musical service.
“A lot of churches have contemporary services with light rock; we don’t have that here,” Meyer said. “We are doing styles of music other churches aren’t doing.”
Meyer, who grew up in a musical family in the Midwest, also plays the piano, organ and accordion.
He plans to play the accordion when he sits in with another group of musicians at the church’s Octoberfest on Oct. 26.
“It keeps life interesting,” the pastor said.