On September 13th, The Art Of Celebration Tour rolled into Morehead City, North Carolina and unloaded at Parkview Baptist Church. I'm sure all in attendance, much like myself, expected the night to be memorable.
And how can you not when you're seeing a band like Rend Collective
? The Irish natives have been a much-welcomed reinvention of sorts for Christian music since the start of their career. Their passionate worship, lyrical depth and creative use of instruments have quickly made them a favorite for music fans.
Regardless of how great we all anticipated the show to be, I think I can speak for everyone there when I say that we were pleasantly surprised and blown away as the whole night went above and beyond our previous assumptions.
Rend Collective, alongside friends Moriah Peters and Urban Rescue, led us in an incredible night of worship and brought a bit of Heaven's constant party down to earth. It was indeed a celebration.
To start the evening off, Moriah Peters and her fierce female band took the stage and went straight into the title track from her recently released sophomore album Brave
. Adding to the fact that Moriah is truly one of the sweetest and most humble people I've ever met, she also brings an incredible amount of energy to the stage. With a constant smile that brightens the room and sets a joyful atmosphere, her soulful voice captures your attention at first listen.
The friendship between her fellow bandmates was as evident as the joy on their faces as they played with such passion and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as we were.
Moriah took a few minutes to share about her love story with for KING & COUNTRY co-frontman Joel Smallbone and her bold decision to save her first kiss for their wedding day, which fed into an intimate performance of "Haven't Even Kissed
" and a beautiful moment of worship as she led the audience in an acapella version of her hit "I Choose Jesus
." She ended her time on stage with some words of wisdom and her encouraging new release "Stand Strong
Shortly after her set ended, Moriah came back out and joined a Grand Canyon University representative to talk about how her time at the school has impacted her ministry as well as her personal walk with Christ.
After a quick stage rearrangement, the show was back with newcomers Urban Rescue
. This is the group's first national tour, and it was obvious that they were excited and eager to be able to share their hearts with us.
If there had been an award for the best on-screen art, Urban Rescue would have won it. With their creative lyric slides, the band played songs from their new album Wildfire
and led the audience in a great time of worship.
Pat from Rend Collective then came out to talk about his heart for Compassion International and the band's involvement with the organization. "Worship is not just our voices singing together," he truthfully explained, "worship is what we do with our hands and feet." He went on to encourage the crowd to consider sponsoring a child and likened it to saving a life at the cost of two Starbucks coffees a week.
Following a brief intermission and stage reset, the moment came for Rend Collective to appear. In their festive suits and ties, they claimed the stage and immediately had the attention of every onlooker. Within the first song "Burn Like A Star
," confetti was blown out into the audience, coloring the church floor and giving the feel of a true celebration. Continuing the party, lead singer Chris got the crowd to put their arm around their neighbor and jump around while Rend used some of their unique instruments to lead us in their hit "Build Your Kingdom Here
Rend is known for their ability to lead worship in a new and creative way, and this night sure didn't disappoint. Between Chris' encouraging words and the way the group passionately pursues the heart of the Father through their music, the night held many emotional moments of entering the presence of God. Before going into their current single "My Lighthouse
," Chris offered a prayer of praise: "we can celebrate Your faithfulness because we know Your track record, and You have never failed us."
The band took a small break as Gareth Gilkeson brought the message for the evening. He spoke about 'the art of celebration' and what that phrase means to them, explaining "the war has already been won… now all that's left to do is celebrate. The art of celebration means knowing we are free from condemnation."
The band soon rejoined Gareth on stage and led a few more songs. They really went all out in making sure this night was a celebration, complete with bubbles.
After saying goodbye for the night, Rend exited the stage once more. But the crowd wasn't ready to leave. The church erupted in applause and within a few seconds, the band reappeared.
The goal was to end on a note of simple worship, and that they did. Chris led us in their beautiful song "Simplicity
" and then went into Matt Redman's "Heart Of Worship
" as one-by-one, each band member walked off stage until there was only the combined voices of the crowd left singing acapella praise to end the night.
The Art Of Celebration Tour was so much more than merely a night of music. It was worship in its most genuine form, humbly presented by a group that clearly loves God and wants their everything to be all for Him.
Whether it was dancing, laughing or praising, each of the artists exuded joy that night and in turn produced smiles from each person in the audience. Surely everyone there would agree that Rend exceeded our expectations, and the night was every bit worth the drive and time. If the tour comes to your area, it's definitely a night you don't want to miss!
(See more coverage of the evening on NRT's instagram.)