Carnegy Hall Hosts Casting Crowns

About a decade ago I taught at the Gospel Music Association's annual gathering in Nashville. While I was there Casting Crowns, who had just made a grand entrance to the recording industry with LifeSong, were featured in a concert of upcoming bands. They shared how they were still working with the youth of their church. As I've watched them grow in prominence over the years to become the top-selling Christian group since 2007 I assumed they'd left their church jobs behind.

On Saturday Joyce and I were given a surprise gift: tickets to Casting Crown's concert at Carnegie Hall. Early in the evening lead singer, Mark Hall, shared that they continue to keep their church jobs! That level of servanthood permeated the whole evening.

Whenever the five packed tiers went crazy for their work they always pointed to the source of their inspiration.

Hall is a master of choosing evocative imagery to move hearts and minds, and that extends beyond their lyrics. While introducing "Thrive" (the one song that's not yet on Grooveshark and is therefore missing from the lineup below) Hall told how they took their 60-person youth group to New Orleans to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina. The youth were climbing into a giant tree, and the youth workers were concerned until a gentleman told them the 300-year-old tree had a root system that matched the branches. He said it wouldn't be coming down any time soon, despite the devastation all around it. Soon all 60 youth were playing in its branches. Hall used the imagery to tell how we need a deep root system in the Word and in our prayer and devotional life, or we will be toppled by the storms of life. He also pointed out how some grow deep but never branch out into the world to bring Life to the dying world around them. He said a healthy Christian is like that tree: equally deep and tall. We shouldn't just survive, we should thrive.

In the Grooveshark lineup there's another song I couldn't find, at least recorded by Casting Crowns: "Beulah Land." I chose Mississippi John Hurt's version. Since Mark Hall grew up one state over, in Alabama, it seemed appropriate. Mark sang the song solo and a'cappella, and afterward he explained that he sang it with his family as he was growing up, and it was one of the songs that awakened him to his calling. Then he asked his parents to stand. They were sitting with the 200+ chorus behind them. It was an extraordinary moment as he honored his parents.

The chorus was made up of people from 44 states, Mexico and Canada. Between them and the band was an orchestra. At the top of the second act they honored the orchestra. They stepped back and let them have their Carnegie Hall moment.

The orchestra and choir made the venue resound in a way that we'll never forget. Carnegie Hall has hosted the best musicians in the world for generations. To hear the Gospel and the praise of our Lord resounding with some of the most perfect acoustics on the planet was so encouraging and profound.

At the intermission I heard an encouraging comment from one of the ushers. She'd never seen so many in the line to the men's room! That tells me there's a growing number of men investing in their growth in Christ. That's very exciting!

We called them back twice for encores. When they came back the first time they sang the last two songs in the lineup below. When they came back again Hall told us how the world rates us on the level of stage upon which we perform, but the Lord doesn't see it that way. He gave glory to God for the opportunity to perform in such a venue, but he quickly turned it to the audience. He said your greatest stage is the person sitting beside you. God has placed each of us where he expects us to do our very best to share the love of Christ with those he brings into our path.

Casting Crowns at Carnegie Hall by RichS on Grooveshark
 Grooveshark is a third party source. If you listen on their website you will encounter advertisements, none of which are vetted or endorsed by Westchester Chapel. We encourage you to click Settings, then Preferences, then check the box for "Only show me family-friendly themes." If there are still ads that you find offensive we encourage you to click the "Report Ad" link below the ad.

Now taking applications for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and sign-ups for Engage Rio.

 

John Forbes featured in pre-Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp videos

John Forbes' performance of William Booth for a reading in an upcoming Broadway musical about how Booth began The Salvation Army was literally put on ice for the recent blizzard, but he was willing to take some time to talk with our students in the context of one of our teaching videos, addressing the critical importance of staying in the present moment when performing. John is an international and Off-Broadway producer, and he's performed on and Off-Broadway and around the world. He even helped the king of the Zulu nation produce a musical in South Africa! 

The online teaching modules are available exclusively to those registered for the camp.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Early Bird Deadline (January 31). Save $150 for one week, $350 for two: www.ChristianFilmmakersCamp.com.



Now taking applications for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and sign-ups for Engage Rio.

 

Bev Holloway to address students of the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp


Beverly Holloway has agreed to meet with students of the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp via video conference. She'll talk about her work as a casting director and then field questions from our students. Beverly is known for her work on The Ultimate Gift (starring Abigail Breslin and James Garner), Like Dandelion Dust (starring Barry Pepper and Academy Award-winner Mira Sorvino), and the upcoming Beyond the Mask (starring John Rhys-Davies). 

I first had Bev work with my students in 2008, and I was impressed with her 30-some credits. The list has now grown to 56! Bev is a genius at what she does, and is so filled with joy. She's always a delight. She has often considered my students for her projects, and I know that two of them were being strongly considered for the lead role in a major project. 

The video conference is available exclusively to those registered for the camp.

There are only three days left of the Early Bird Deadline. Save $150 for one week, $350 for two: www.ChristianFilmmakersCamp.com.



Now taking applications for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and sign-ups for Engage Rio.

 

The Armor and the Truth

This morning Joyce preached on Ephesians 6:10-20.



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you've been blessed by the ministry of Westchester Chapel we'd be blessed by any contribution, which could help us continue our work for the Lord.

Other Options

WCCC Worship 1/18/15 by RichS on Grooveshark
Grooveshark is a third party source. If you listen on their website you will encounter advertisements, none of which are vetted or endorsed by Westchester Chapel. We encourage you to click Settings, then Preferences, then check the box for "Only show me family-friendly themes." If there are still ads that you find offensive we encourage you to click the "Report Ad" link below the ad.

 Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.

Now taking applications for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and sign-ups for Engage Rio.

Official Selections

Performing Jonah at last years Festival.

The Christian Worldview Film Festival has announced its official selections, and I performed in four of them: Beyond the MaskPrincess Cut, Polycarp, "The Making of Rather to Be Chosen." I was a consultant for "Firefly." Two of our students at The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp created "The Sticky Note."

We're so very pleased to see how the Lord is raising up talented Christian filmmakers as the marketshare increases!

I'll be teaching at the Christian Worldview Guild, which precedes the Festival (get a discount by using code RICHSWINGLE), so I'm looking forward to seeing as many of these films as possible, as well as many others who were created by friends or just look really great!

Last year we were SO encouraged by the other speakers at the Guild. They really set the tone for using the film medium for increasingly more powerful ways to impact society and draw people to the Lord.


Now taking applications for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and sign-ups for Engage Rio.

Flying back to the Oregon Coast...

Goofing around on the Oregon Coast after performing at The Newmark Theatre.
Last October I performed at The Newmark Theatre in downtown Portland, Oregon. While there I reconnected with a family I'd met in a restaurant a year or more before, the Olstads. As they wheeled their son past our table I noticed a sticker on his wheelchair: "Joni & Friends." I have a number of connections to Joni Eareckson Tada, so we struck up a conversation. When we were kids our mom read from her autobiography, telling how she became a quadriplegic in a diving accident, and how she's gone on to be a painter, international speaker, writer (3M copies of her autobiography in print), and singer. In fact Joni sang the Oscar-nominated song for Alone Yet Not Alone in which I play a land speculator. Her husband pressed her diaphragm so she could hit the high notes.  She personally called our friend, Art Sanborn, who became a quadriplegic in a boogie boarding accident. His story and how he now jogs and does 150 pushups every day is told in his amazing autobiography, Walking Miracle. And one of our friends, a physical therapist, has traveled with Joni & Friends to Peru, Cuba and Poland to help fit the disabled with wheelchairs that have been donated. Turns out the Olstads worked with our friend on at least one of those trips! I'm sure we had many eavesdroppers in that restaurant as we talked excitedly about how the Creator of limbs could work so mightily through those who couldn't use them.

At The Newmark I reconnected with the Olstads, and they invited me to perform at a Joni & Friends event on the Oregon Coast. In fact that event will take place at Twin Rocks Friends Camp, where I served on summer staff when I was in college.  The evening at The Newmark was a fundraiser for Twin Rocks. 

I was pleased to hear that Joni & Friends keeps a lean budget, making sure that most donations go straight to the disabled who benefit from their assistance. The downside is that they can only cover my airfare. I've agreed to do the booking, especially in light of a friend who broke his neck just a couple of months ago while play wrestling. This twenty-something is now facing life as a quadriplegic, but we're trusting the Lord can either bring glory through his healing, as He did through Art Sanborn, or through the disability, as He's done through Joni. 

If you're in the Pacific Northwest I'd love to add to my itinerary! I'll be performing for Joni & Friends on August 11 & 18. I have free dates between those performances and after the 18th. 

If you're in the Cincinati area, the director of Polycarp has invited me to attend the premiere on February 20, so I would love to set up a booking in that area for the 21st and/or 22nd. 

Send decision makers in your church or college (wherever you may be) to www.RichDrama.com.

Here's the newly released trailer for Polycarp, which leads with me in the role of a slave trader:


I could use your help on one more front: I submitted for the role of a lifetime in a major motion picture, and they're basing their casting on each actor's standing on IMDb. If you visited www.IMDb.me/RichSwingle after our Christmas eCard was posted I thank you! There was a great surge in my standing, but now it's dropped considerably, and the submissions deadline has just arrived. Now is the time they'll be sorting through the candidates. If you have a second, click here. If you have a minute, while you're on the page find the Facebook Like button. If you have five minutes, click on each of the films in which I've performed and Like them. 

Watch for Princess Cut in theaters Valentine's Day. I play a suave realtor. And in April you can have a hand in bringing Beyond the Mask to a theater in your community. I play Dr. Bonneville in that one. 

I pray the New Year is off to a great start for each of you. Hope to see you out there somewhere... especially if you're in the Northwest or near Cincinnati. 

in Christ alone,
Rich

Twenty-four days left for the early bird special at the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp. And sign-up for Engage Rio.

The Messenger's Box


I was honored to play the role of Jesus in The Messenger's Box. I've portrayed the Lord many times on stage in numerous nations, but this is the first time on film. There's something very special about that.

It's now available on DVD and Digital Download.

It debuted near Detroit on October 10, and Tricia Ouellette was kind enough to snap a shot of the screen, which I got permission to share here:

Playing Jesus with Joseph Ouellette.

It's directed by my friend, Gary Bosek. I performed with him in The Screenwriters and Polycarp. Joyce and I have seen it and really enjoyed it.





You may be wondering how Jesus fits into this modern piece. I can't wait for you to find out.

The Bride of Christ

Pastor Joyce Swingle kicks off the New Year preaching on Revelation 21-22. Pastor Linda Warren opens with prayer and reading from His Name is Jesus, including the lyrics of James Montgomery's "Angels from the Realms of Glory." Pastor Jim Warren leads communion and shares announcements. Rich Swingle performs an excerpt from his one-man play The Revelation.


This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you've been blessed by the ministry of Westchester Chapel we'd be blessed by any contribution, which could help us continue our work for the Lord.

Other Options

WCCC Worship 1/4/15 by RichS on Grooveshark
Grooveshark is a third party source. If you listen on their website you will encounter advertisements, none of which are vetted or endorsed by Westchester Chapel. We encourage you to click Settings, then Preferences, then check the box for "Only show me family-friendly themes." If there are still ads that you find offensive we encourage you to click the "Report Ad" link below the ad.

 Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com. The Revelation © Copyright 1998, 2009, 2013, 2015 by Rich Swingle. All rights reserved.

Now taking applications for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and sign-ups for Engage Rio.