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2009 Conversations

2008 Conversations

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2006 Conversations

2005 Conversations

2004 Conversations

2003 Conversations

Joy Williams: Rooted in Grace (December 29, 2002)

Judy Rachels: Christmas gifts (December 22, 2002)

Ralph Carmichael: New music for a timeless message (December 15, 2002)

Roger and Greg Flessing: Media, ministry and society's ungodly messages (December 8, 2002)

Rick Salvato: Meeting medical and spiritual needs around the world (November 24, 2002)

Asa Hutchinson: Drug Enforcement's top officer (November 17, 2002)

Bill Bright: 'Not I, but Christ' (November 10, 2002)

Ray Berryhill: Living by faith (October 20, 2002)

Owen C. Carr: Reading through the Bible 92 times (October 13, 2002)

Curtis Harlow: Combating campus drinking (September 29, 2002)

Wes Bartel: Making Sunday count (September 22, 2002)

M. Wayne Benson: The Holy Spirit knocks (September 15, 2002)

Dr. Richard Dobbins: Understanding Suffering (September 8, 2002)

K.R. Mele: Halloween evangelism (August 25, 2002)

Roland Blount: God makes a way for blind missionary (August 18, 2002)

Cal Thomas: Finding a mission field (August 11, 2002)

Lisa Ryan: For such a time as this (July 28, 2002)

Dallas Holm: Faith and prayer in life’s toughest times (July 21, 2002)

Paul Drost: Intentional church planting (July 14, 2002)

James M. Inhofe: Serving Christ in the Senate (June 30, 2002)

Karen Kingsbury: The Write stuff (June 23, 2002)

Michael W. Smith: Worship is how you live each day (June 16, 2002)

Wayne Stayskal: On the drawing board (June 9, 2002)

Fory VandenEinde: Anyone can minister (May 26, 2002)

Thomas E. Trask: Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2002)

Stormie Omartian: Recovering from an abusive childhood (May 12, 2002)

Luis Carrera: Beyond the Shame (April 28, 2002)

Tom Greene: The church of today (April 21, 2002)

Philip Bongiorno: Wisdom for a younger generation (April 14, 2002)

Deborah M. Gill: Christian education and discipleship (March 24, 2002)

Norma Champion: Becoming involved in politics (February 24, 2002)

Steve Pike: A candid discussion about Mormonism (February 10, 2002)

Raymond Berry: More to life than football (January 27, 2002)

Sanctity of Human Life roundtable: Doctors speak out (January 20, 2002)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: Ministering in the military (January 13, 2002)

2001 Conversations


New music for a timeless message

(December 15, 2002)

Ralph Carmichael is considered by many to be the father of contemporary Christian music. He has served as president of the Gospel Music Association, been inducted into the GMA Hall of Fame, was founding president of Light Records and Lexicon Music, and has arranged or produced six musicals, 75 television and motion picture scores (including The Cross and the Switchblade) many songs and more than 200 records. He is a Dove Award and Emmy Award recipient. Carmichael spoke to Jim Linzey about his life and ministry.

PE: What were your earliest influences?

CARMICHAEL: I’m most grateful for my parents, Richard and Adele Carmichael, for bringing me up in the church. I’m proud I’m a preacher’s kid and for what my folks gave me as a spiritual heritage. I’ve thanked God a thousand times over for the Bible teaching I received growing up in the Carmichael household. We had family altar every day and church almost every night.

PE: How did you come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior?

CARMICHAEL: Every time my parents gave an altar call, I responded. But while attending Southern California Bible College [now Vanguard University], I realized that I needed to allow Jesus Christ to become the supreme Lord of my life. I made a commitment to God that if He would make my musical dreams come true, I would give them all back to Him.

PE: What led you into conducting?

CARMICHAEL: When I was a student at Vanguard University in 1949, the school raised funds for uniforms and instruments for the band I assembled. President Harrison allowed us to go on television with a program called The Campus Christian Hour. After 50 consecutive weeks on the air we won an Emmy Award.

PE: What were some high points in your involvement with contemporary Christian music?

CARMICHAEL: In 1966, I told my friend Jarrell McCracken, founder and president of Word Records, that I believed the evangelical status quo was counterproductive to evangelism. If something wasn’t done to change the trend, I felt the church would suffer. I suggested starting a new record label called Light and releasing all the experimental music on it. In 1968 we released the record I Looked For Love and Andrae Crouch’s Gonna Keep On Singing followed by many other records. In the 1970s we released contemporary Christian programming to nationwide radio. In 1975, we produced and presented Jimmy Owens’ musical If My People to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, gaining tremendous support for the new sound. Lexicon’s New Church Hymnal in 1976 contained traditional and contemporary music. Congregations of all denominations were singing the new music, something I had prayed for and dreamed of all my life.

PE: Is contemporary Christian music a new idea?

CARMICHAEL: In the 1700s and 1800s, poets wrote many of our traditional hymns, combining the unchanging message with popular secular melodies. And they were sternly criticized. The musical “pop” style of the 1800s is what we now call traditional, though it did not come from within the church.

The same process occurred from 1900 to the 1950s. Be it jazz, blues, ragtime, ballad, marches or what we call “traditional,” these musical expressions share one characteristic — they did not originate within the church.

PE: What is your motivation for introducing new forms of musical expression into the church?

CARMICHAEL: Psalm 33:3 and Revelation 14:3 admonish us to sing a new song. The message we must share is timeless and unchanging, but if we are to communicate it to a changing world, the medium must be constantly changing.

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