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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo
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TU welcomes for KING + COUNTRY

Christian pop duo performs, screens movie

The four-time Grammy award-winning Christian pop duo, for KING + COUNTRY, performed center stage at Taylor chapel and pre-screened their new movie, “Unsung Hero” on Friday, Feb. 23.

Lines packed with eager students began forming outside Rediger Chapel nearly an hour before the 10 a.m. chapel service began.

Brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, who comprise the duo, sang five songs during the first half of chapel, including their songs, “God only Knows” and “joy.” Not a single seat was empty as enthusiastic students worshiped alongside the band.

Afterward, the two sat down with President Michael Lindsay to discuss “Unsung Hero” — which details the journey of the Smallbone family from Australia to Nashville, Tennessee.

The Smallbone brothers returned to Rediger Chapel at 7 p.m. that night for the movie pre-screening. The brothers, along with Luke Smallbone’s son, Leo, introduced the film. Afterward, Joel Smallbone — who played his father in the film — answered several student questions regarding his life, music career and acting as his father.

In addition to the chapel service and movie screening, Josh Walsh, producer of “Unsung Hero,” guest-spoke in a film class, and Band Leader Garrett Tyler and Music Director Danny Lopez spoke in a music class.

Taylor alumna Ashley Munn (’12) serves as for KING + COUNTRY’s day-to-day manager. She played a key role in facilitating the band’s stop at Taylor as part of their movie promotional tour.

“I went to an alumni event in Nashville in October and connected with Holly Whitby and Desirae Crouch, so when we were booking the spring and had a day off between Bourbonnais, IL, and West Lafayette, IN, I reached out to them to see if that date would work for chapel and to share about the movie,” Munn said.

From there, Munn connected with Greg Dyson, vice president for spiritual life & intercultural leadership and campus pastor, and Lori Heath, manager of operations for spiritual life & intercultural leadership, to begin planning the band’s visit.

“Our team met multiple times to create a thorough plan to execute,” Heath said. “The collaboration between our chapel team, the marketing department, the IT department and the Smallbone/Lionsgate representatives was amazing.”

Among those assisting the planning process was junior Sydnee Follett, who serves as lead chapel coordinator.

Follett explained that typically, chapels consist of three songs, a Scripture reading and a message. However, this service was unique because the Smallbone brothers were given the entire 50-minute time slot.

“We worked with for KING + COUNTRY’s management for the last four months, planning out their set and their schedule for the day, where they were going to go (and) where they were going to stay while they were here,” Follett said. “But then we also had to work with Lionsgate and their team to figure out the movie screening details and the logistics of that (and) how their security was going to get here.”

While working with the Smallbone brothers, Follett was amazed to see how easy to work with and humble they were, despite their fame and awards.

“They really are just super humble people who love Jesus,” Follett said.

The chapel planning team was happy with how the day played out. While it required flexibility, quick adjustments and lots of teamwork, Heath found it rewarding to see everything come together after months of planning.

Dyson was overjoyed by the collaboration, help and prayers of so many staff, faculty and students that made this event possible.

“It was wonderful greeting people, watching our community make room for each other and, with one strong voice, worship the Lord,” Dyson said.

For Munn, it was exciting and rewarding to watch the for KING + COUNTRY team experience the community, camaraderie and energy that Taylor embodies. 

She found it special to watch Taylor students connect with the group’s music, message and movie.

“The core principles of for KING + COUNTRY are loving on the broken hearted, sharing the hope in Jesus, and spreading the gospel farther which align so beautifully with the heart and intent of Taylor, so it was special to partner together for this day,” Munn said.