Baylor Alumnus, Longtime Music Minister to Receive Leadership Award During Annual Alleluia Conference
by Brooke Hill, student newswriter, Baylor University Media & Public Relations
WACO, Texas (July 11, 2019) — Baylor University alumnus and retired music minister Thomas Coker will be welcomed back to campus to receive the Exemplary Leadership in Christian Music Award at the 18th annual Alleluia Conference.
The Alleluia Conference, taking place from July 16-19, draws church musicians to Baylor from across the world. Class sessions, worship, concerts, reading sessions and lunch discussions with composers are hosted throughout campus. David Music, D.M.A., professor of church music in the Baylor School of Music, will present the award.
"Thomas Coker served as a long-time minister of music at one of the prominent Baptist churches in Houston,” Music said. “As such, he has been a model and mentor for church musicians of all ages. As a Baylor graduate, it gives the Center for Christian Music Studies great pleasure to present him with the 2019 Exemplary Leadership Award in Church Music."
Coker received his bachelor’s degree in music education from Baylor’s School of Music in 1967. He served in music ministry for 50 years, with the last 25 at South Main Baptist Church in mid-town Houston. Ordained in 1974, he previously served in similar capacities in Weatherford and Tulia, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Falls Church, Virginia. He also served a two-year term as church vice president for the Texas Choral Directors Association.
The Award for Exemplary Leadership in Church Music was instituted in 2005 and is given annually to a graduate of Baylor University who has contributed uniquely and significantly to some aspect of the broad scope of church music ministry. The award can be given for cumulative lifetime achievement or a singular contribution.
This award may be given for service as a local minister of music, composer, educator, denominational servant, recording artist or in another area of Christian music.
Randall Bradley, D.M.A., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Church Music and director of the church music program and the Center for Church Music Studies in the School of Music, said Coker served with distinction at South Main Baptist Church.
“His ministry was innovative, creative, spirit-filled, and always effectively ministering to people,” Bradley said. “Coker has served as a model to those who follow in his footsteps.”
Some of the major works Coker used in worship included John Rutter’s Mass of the Children, Requiem, Gloria, and Magnificat; Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor; Brahms’ A German Requiem; and Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah and St. Paul.
In 2006, he and the South Main Choir and Drama Troupe presented a dramatized performance of Arthur Honegger’s King David for the Texas Choral Directors Association convention in San Antonio, and in 2008, the youth choirs presented Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass for churches in Chicago. Coker also worked to involve his choirs/ensembles in mission/choir tours in churches and mission points in the United States, Great Britain, Canada and China.
Coker led the church to provide an environment in which youth and children grow through serving. In addition to singing for worship on a regular basis and preparing a Christmas program, youth choirs also often presented major spring musicals including Beauty and the Beast, Godspell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Thursday Night – the Musical, an original Broadway-length show written by Daren Butler.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT THE BAYLOR UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MUSIC
The Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. Baylor’s School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs include bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance, music education and academic majors, as well as doctoral degrees in church music. Degrees leading to the Bachelor of Music Education conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Visit www.baylor.edu/music to learn more.