2012 General Assembly / General CBF

Newcomer gives voice to complex emotions of transition

Carrie Newcomer

Carrie Newcomer connected with Fellowship Baptists during her concert Wednesday night at Broadway Baptist Church. J.V. McKinney photo

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has discovered another voice for its journey.

Yes, we have Kyle Matthews and Kate Campbell and others, but after Wednesday night’s concert honoring Daniel and Earlene Vestal, you can add Quaker folk singer Carrie Newcomer to that list.

In a moving, seven-song concert featuring Broadway Baptist Church’s Chancel Choir, Newcomer connected with the Fellowship in a powerful and personal way.

A clear and strong alto voice reminiscent of country singer Kathy Mattea, Newcomer lured us all in with her word pictures, lyrically and passionately expressed. She helped us grieve Daniel’s moving on while giving us hope for the future at the same time.

I admit, I’m too close to this situation to hear her songs through any other filter but CBF’s transition, but even an objective set of ears could find something to mull, cherish, celebrate and contemplate in Newcomer’s music.

Her set included “Leaves Don’t Drop,” “I Believe,” “Betty’s Diner,” “When One Door Opens” and “If Not Now, Tell Me When.”

Her songs resonated, not because she’s been one of us, walking from the certain and familiar into a wilderness of unknowns in an attempt to be true to conviction and calling. No, they resonated because she knows people and their stories.

Our stories are full of universal themes of loss, joy, regret, hope and struggle.

So whenever we need a troubadour to tell us about ourselves, Newcomer is welcomed back any time.

And as we sang together on her final song, it felt so accurate, so true and so fitting, that I could sing this as a benediction at the conclusion of every General Assembly:

If not now, tell me when.
We may never see this moment, place and time again.
If not now, tell me when.

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