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Vicky Beeching: The six months in USA, six months in UK worship leader - Vicky Beeching
None of them are equipped to know what to do. My life would have been so different, just a book or an article about what the bible really says about sexuality would have been gold dust. It was so completely overwhelming. I did get off the floor, wipe my face, get into bed and carry on the next morning.
I think sometimes God just gives us enough light to see the next step. He never gives you the cheat sheet. Having adored life at Oxford, and wanting to pursue a career in academia, her world was turned upside down by the offer of a contract with a Christian label in Nashville, a branch of mega music label EMI.
Her bass player Simon Francis recalls someone who was "warm and quiet, with deep theological knowledge and understanding, and an enthusiastic energy that lit up whilst sharing stories or geeking out on 'muso-chat'" when they met in Nashville.
Westboro Baptist Church was picketing gay funerals. One of her labelmates was Christian artist Jennifer Knapp, who was then taking a leave of absence from music and touring.
She was known to be gay by the label, and has since come out, but at the time Beeching said it was hinted at in the offices. It felt very scary. No one suspected, she said, though she politely declined all offers of blind dates with potential boyfriends. I booked as many gigs as I could on my birthday, on New Year, around Christmas, just to avoid the holidays.
Every birthday and Christmas I would feel a huge sense of sadness.
The Christian Rock Star Who Came Out, Became A Gay Role Model And Found Acceptance | HuffPost UK
I felt I was no closer to finding a life partner, or being myself. She was one of the first and few Christian artists I encountered who never seemed to let fear of acceptance or expectation govern her creative decisions, and yet was always accessible, approachable, and always inclusive.
Instead of a more liberal atmosphere she thought she would find on the West Coast, Beeching found herself booked to sing at the most uncomfortable places. I had to sing from the songsheet. I found myself bookended between people ranting about gay people needing to be saved and going to hell. She noticed an inflamed scar-like mark across her forehead, and doctors gave her the horrifying news that the problem was an auto-immune disease, linear scleroderma morphea, which turns soft tissue to scar tissue, and can affect the entire body.
She flew home to start the brutal treatment, which includes chemotherapy. My own theological studies had led me to the point where I thought that being gay and Christian was compatible. But I needed to be stronger. When I was ill, I was so disappointed and frustrated, and I wanted to get past that and be able to speak out of love, to say God loves me the way I am, and all LGBT people the way they are.
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Hardest, they said, was how distant she had been over the years. But they said the really devastating part was me not being able to talk to them. Mostly, people have found the theology very empowering.
I am really loving getting to know her, and she is so great. When you are 35, you know the kind of person you are looking for. I have never been interested in random dating, I am not that kind of person. I am so pleased to be dating someone now who makes me so happy. We will be hearing great wisdom from her for a long time.
Lyrics of Deliverer
But now she has moved to another big American Christian music label, Integrity! She spoke about the move: Sparrow were downsizing, they lost a lot of staff; there were a few artists they said they couldn't continue to go on with in the States. There were a bunch of us who just got left with the option, if we wanted it, of moving onto someone else. I didn't dislike Sparrow, but for my kind of music it didn't feel like a great fit.
They really want radio and CCM, and the worship elements of it are actually handled by SixStepsRecords, not Sparrow, and I didn't really know that back in the day when I signed. Sparrow don't have any people who you'd know of who are worship leaders as we would understand it. I had a chat with Integrity, and they only produce corporate worship music, so I knew that it would be very easy for me to write congregational songs and I wouldn't get pushed to try to make them into radio singles or performance songs.
So really I couldn't base decisions on labels, because Kingsway UK is fantastic, and Integrity UK is fantastic, so choosing between those two would be pretty much impossible. It was really just about in the States what it was like for me, and what expectations were on me in terms of my writing; with Sparrow, I brought along to the table what was corporate worship, and they'd usually try to pair me up with a radio writer, who would say the song was too simple and boring and repetitive - too long, you know.
With Integrity over there, that's exactly what they want, songs for the Church, so it was actually the American side that really made the decision for me. Vicky told Christian Marketplace magazine, "Of the three songs probably my favourite is called 'Deliverer' which is a song about the freedom that God brings in worship. I'm really passionate about that environment.
Vicky Beeching: The six months in USA, six months in UK worship leader
It's so much more than singing, it's actually the Kingdom of God breaking in at that moment and anything could happen. Commented Vicky, "I think I was just so ready by the time we made it to make something I was actually pleased with. I got more into electric guitar and band stuff, and I hope the lyrics are challenging in terms of pushing people to a new place - whether it's asking for deliverance or healing, or the words in 'Break Our Hearts' where it talks about needing to actually live out the things we sing.
I hope it's not just an easy listen. Vicky spoke about the song. I think we can see it as just us singing into the air. Or maybe warming ourselves up to hear the preaching.
Vicky Beeching - Deliverer Lyrics
But that Scripture about God inhabiting the praises of his people for me is a reminder that he is fully present as all three people of the trinity, there to do his work and let his Kingdom come in. So the song is a prayer that he would inhabit our praise, that we would be expectant that anything could happen in that context.
We almost put it first, because it sets the tone for what we're trying to achieve. I actually use that a lot when I open sets. Often I'll start a worship time and pray: Worship leaders I speak to struggle to find opening songs; I'm hoping that one will be a good resource to help people open up their worship times.
Said Vicky, "It's a prayer that God will actually breathe life into us, that we would have his life. I really want songs that aren't just about singing to God or about who he is; more about inviting his Kingdom and his presence to work in our midst, so we leave changed.
I think that's one of the things missing in worship because often we're complacent because we're singing songs or telling God we love him. But it's actually a place of expecting that holy, exciting danger where anything could happen. That's what I want the album to encapsulate.Deliverer - Weston Skaggs
Often I'd get to the end of leading worship somewhere, and a whole queue of people come and say stuff. Most of them will be girls, and most of them will say we either want to lead worship, but didn't know we could, because we've never seen a woman doing it - or, we're worship leaders in our church, and we feel very isolated, we don't have anyone to connect with.