Southwestern Seminary’s fifteenth annual Gala served as a “musical thank you” from the School of Church Music to Southwestern President Paige Patterson and First Lady Dorothy Patterson. The April 20 program featured a variety of musical performances along with congregational worship, all based on the Pattersons’ favorite songs.

“Dr. Patterson and Mrs. Patterson, you have been very good to the School of Church Music,” said Dean of the School of Church Music Leo Day. He explained, “Because of you, Reynolds Auditorium is renovated amazingly well. … Because of you, we are an All-Steinway School. … Because you have hired a world-class music faculty, we have a world-class school of church music. So tonight, we’re here to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus’; but we’re also here to celebrate the Pattersons.”

Numerous flags from around the world lined the stage in MacGorman Chapel, representing the Pattersons’ world travels. Day said the flags were a “symbol of two people whom I consider to be God-sent evangelists who are fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord.”

Beyond featuring many of the Pattersons’ favorite hymns—sung or performed by the Southwestern Master Chorale, the Southwestern International Children’s Choir, the Semihan Chara Children’s Choir, the Southwestern Singers, and the Southwestern Jazz Combo—the Gala also included a special surprise for the Pattersons: a performance by the Gospel music trio Greater Vision. The group drove overnight from South Carolina in order to make the program as a special treat to Dr. and Mrs. Patterson.

“It’s worth the trip out here just to see you all,” said the group’s emcee, Gerald Wolfe. “You have been such an encouragement to us.”

Another treat for the Gala audience was a saxophone performance by Vernard Johnson, the School of Church Music’s alumnus of the year. Johnson, who completed his master’s degree in 1973 and his Doctor of Musical Arts in 1979, was the first African-American to complete his doctoral degree in Southwestern’s School of Church Music. He has since been inducted into the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame and has received their “Lifetime Achievement Award”; been named by the Texas Legislatures (both the House and the Senate) as “Entertainer of the Year”; and the Texas House of Representatives passed a resolution naming him “The Greatest Gospel Saxophonist in the World.” Johnson’s Gala performance featured renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “O Happy Day.”

Day said his prayer for the Gala was that those who attended would be refreshed by the musical worship of the Lord. In the Gala’s program, he wrote, “We worship Him based on a heart of gratitude, thanking Him for all He has done and all He will do in our lives. It is through our testimony in Christ that we enter the sanctuary equipped and ready to give Him praise.”