Worship at Grace

Worship at Grace

For many years, Grace has blended Christian contemporary music with vital aspects of the Lutheran liturgy, engaging both young and old alike in beautiful corporate worship services...

If you ever have the opportunity to worship at Grace Lutheran Church in Mastic Beach, New York, you will find yourself richly blessed by one of the three music teams that lead the service.

For many years, Grace has blended Christian contemporary music with vital aspects of the Lutheran liturgy, engaging both young and old alike in beautiful corporate worship services. This worship style, which has attracted a wide variety of musicians to use their God-given gifts in concert with others, richly blesses everyone in attendance.

Music team leader Chris Gradilone said, “Our team is very diverse. People ages 17 to 72 and from all walks of life — from an athletic high school senior, a school bus driver, a Home Depot sales associate, to a cabinet expert, librarian, school teacher, pastry chef, some retirees, a painting expert, and a sheetrock guy — each one is passionate about worshipping God through His gift of music.”

Grace’s worship teams include acoustic and electric guitarists, keyboard players, bass players, and a wide-variety of singers. Some Sundays you may hear a saxophone or flute solo performed by a number of very talented young adults. Every Sunday, no matter what music is played, you will hear God’s people using their precious gifts in spreading the Gospel message for all who have ears to hear.

When Christine Tartaglione, “Woman of Grace” music team leader, was asked what was special about her team, she responded, “We are a family. The ability to sing really wasn’t a prerequisite to joining our little group, although helpful. All you really need to join is a pure desire to sing praises to our Lord.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head and churches were forced to cease in-person services, Grace (as well as many other churches) began scrambling to find ways to provide virtual worship services. In an effort to include music in these services, Joshua Elio, a member of Grace, suggested that members of the music teams form a “virtual choir.”

This engaging process began with the lead singer recording a basic sound track that was forwarded to the drummer. The drummer would lay down his beat and send the blended recording to each of the singers. The singers would then record themselves individually and send their pieces back to the drummer who would weave all the pieces together into one beautiful piece of music. While creating a virtual choir may seem arduous, this mechanism gave the musicians the opportunity to continue sharing their gifts with those participating in the virtual worship services.

When Grace was able to reopen their doors, safety protocols were set in place, including those for providing music in a safe manner. While the music platform allowed four musicians to perform in a socially distant manner, Grace was in need of additional singing stations. Wood-framed structures holding plexiglass sheets were constructed, enabling people to sing in a socially safe manner without masks. These changes allowed all the people returning to the church to be enveloped with beautiful worship music.

In addition, Grace was able to provide an environment for a local church to hold its own music rehearsals. When the pandemic hit, The Journey Church had begun renovations on their church building, thus prohibiting their music team from practicing together. Learning of their need, Christopher Gradilone inquired and received approval from neighboring church’s officers for their music team to practice alongside Grace’s team members. These special music-filled nights proved to be a rich blessing for all involved!

Future plans for the music teams may include nights of worship and possibly praise concerts combining all three teams. When asked about the future plans for the Woman of Grace, Ms. Tartaglione responded, “Our plan is to continue to grow in Christ together as we continue to invite more into our music family.”

Music team leader Christopher Gradilone sums it up, “To me this is a privilege, honor, joy, and total blessing to be invited to be a part of God’s plans as He uses us through our love of His great gift of music. I love worshipping and connecting with these incredible loving children of God. All I can say is WOW!”

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