Last Sunday, we recognized the ministry of Rev. Sonny Walden. Unfortunately, I was not able to be here due to a death in the family. However, I was able to watch through livestream and I had a chance to share a few thoughts with you by way of Rev. David Melton reading a letter I wrote. Sonny’s ministry was a strong and vibrant one here at Dunwoody UMC. We were fortunate to have had Sonny as our Minister of Music.
However, we are equally fortunate to have Mark Lamback replace Sonny as the Director of Music Ministries. Knowing he would be retiring sometime in the not too distant future, Sonny and I first began conversations about his replacement several years ago. Always, at the top of his list was Mark. I remember when I first started talking with Mark a short time later, he was overjoyed and ever since has had this on his radar. When I casually asked choir members their thoughts about Mark, he consistently received glowing reports. And when his name came up in the Staff Parish Relations Committee late last spring, there was unanimous approval.
In one sense, Mark needs no introduction. His wife Elizabeth, their two children, Katherine and Samuel, and Mark have been active members of DUMC for over 13 years. They are all very involved in the church on many different levels, not the least of which is in our music program. In addition to singing in the choirs, they are often found playing instruments during the Worship Services as well. And, of course, he has been the Director of our Youth Choir for the last eight years.
Mark comes to us from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, where he was teaching middle and upper school chorus. Prior to that, he was the Choral Director at Dunwoody High School for seven years. He earned his BA in Music, with an emphasis on piano performance at Emory University, and following, he attended the University of Georgia where he received his Masters of Music in Choral Conducting.
In terms of this transition, one of the most touching moments for me came last Wednesday. Unless you are a member of the Chancel Choir or on Facebook, you probably are not aware of it. However, at one point during choir rehearsal, Sonny walked over to Mark and handed him his baton. It was Sonny’s way of saying, “My time as the Minister of Music here has come to an end. Your time as the Director of Music Ministries here is just beginning. Build on the past. Take charge! And step into the future!”
Mark, we are delighted you are stepping into this role. Please know that as you begin this new chapter in your life and we begin a new chapter as a church, you and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers. We love you all and look forward to your leadership.