The pastor’s sermons run about 30 minutes. The singer’s Christian country concerts sometimes stretch 90 minutes.
Minister and vocalist Ron Bridgewater, who serves both roles, understands the irony.
“I don’t think many people have ever asked me to preach 90 minutes,” he said, laughing.
The 49-year-old senior minister at East Columbus Christian Church just released his second album, “Time,” on the Columbus-based Lift Records label. The record will be available at various outlets online such as iTunes.
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“Some people sometimes will listen to a song more intently or more closely than a sermon,” Bridgewater said. “Even in a worship song, there’s some element of entertainment within the music.”
His first single, a cover of the late Glen Campbell’s classic “Try a Little Kindness” already is in rotation alongside national artists on local southern gospel station WYGS Radio, according to morning on-air personality Jim Hutson, a national gospel performer himself.
“Ron did a great job with his producer (on the disc),” Hutson said. “He spared no expense on this.”
He recorded the record at The Family Room in Anderson, just 10 minutes from the home of internationally touring Grammy-nominated southern gospel artist and friend Doug Anderson, who appears on the title cut and one other song.
While Bridgewater is eager to minister musically, he’s also committed to his day job.
“This doesn’t changed anything (at church),” he said. “I don’t have any desire or ambition to do anything differently (full-time). I have a great church with great elders who have been very supportive of all my ministry.”
Bridgewater took a few moments recently to talk about his music and concerts and the new release.
Your concerts during part of last summer helped raise $12,000 for Hilltop Christian Camp in Brown County. How do you explain that, with intimate crowds of only 100 or fewer?
When you give people a cause they really believe in, they’ll give. It was pretty awesome. We just wanted to bless the camp. We could not have been happier.
You consider most of your original songs as Christian country, but you also do songs by Christian pop artists such as Casting Crowns?
Yes. I like it all (styles), so sometimes I’ll do it all.
You have introduced “Try a Little Kindness” with Scripture from Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
This well-known tune is a much needed message in our world today.
You have a rather down-to-earth approach to your music marketing, right?
Well, I don’t have this mass promotional plan going out (to support the record). And I realize that most people don’t know me from Adam.
You represent Indianapolis-based Christian Missionary Fellowship that allows people to support needy children in poor countries worldwide. So your music offers more than spiritual encouragement?
That’s what we’re hoping for. It’s a child-sponsor program that’s basically church-based. In pretty much most of the concerts I do, I will include some sort of spiel about CMF International sponsorship.
So far, I’ve done five CMF concerts and seen 24 children sponsored. I’m really happy with that. These kids lives are literally being changed by someone saying, “Yes, I want to do this (provide money monthly for physical needs and Christian education).” So the music becomes a kind of foot in the door to get into some of the churches to get this message in front of the people.
Talk about the title cut “Time” about how the days pass a little quicker than we realize.
When I heard that song from Canadian country artist Dean Brody, I thought, “That is just so full of just real truth.” The book of James says we’re like a mist that appears only for a while. And that is so true. And this song just hit me like a ton of bricks. So I thought, “I’ve got to do that one.”
Position: Senior minister at East Columbus Christian Church.
Other ministry: As a country Christian singer performing original tunes and covers.
Latest effort: The nine-song compact disc “Time” on Lift Records, and available at The Ark Book & Gift in Columbus and online at various music sites.
Family: Wife Stacey; children, Nick, 20, and Garrett, 16; plus cat Lola, shown in a lighthearted video clip on his Facebook page trying to “catch” an on-screen baseball during a televised Major League game last fall.
Downtime: Polishing his golf game.