GOSHEN TRAVELERS An Effingham County Praise Band
Berthold Auerbach, a German poet and author, once said music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. For one Effingham County praise band, these words couldn’t add more meaning to what they are doing. By using their God-given talents, they spread joy, hope and healing to those who have the pleasure of hearing them.
Five years ago, the praise team at Goshen United Methodist Church (UMC) in Rincon, Georgia, had an idea. The idea was to carry their tunes outside the walls of their church. In just a short time, Goshen Travelers has made a name for itself – being invited to play at places throughout the state. The band is made up of talented musicians. Jesse D. King plays acoustic guitar and vocals; his dad, Jesse C. King, plays acoustic guitar and vocals; Missy Dodd and her sister Stephanie Wiggins are on vocals; Jeff Braswell plays bass guitar and vocals; Robert Grant is the harmonica player; and Matthew Grant, now a freshman at Clemson University, is the percussion of the group and plays the cajón. The gifted group brings together more than just harmony – they bring together their love of God.
“Our first gig was a secular gig and we had to learn music from the 60s and 70s as well as rock and roll music,” said Jesse D. King. “It didn’t feel like us; it just wasn’t the pocket we wanted to be in. Now we play nothing but churches, festivals, retreats, and Christian music.”
The band’s core values are modest – keep it fun, keep it authentic and keep it simple. “If it gets too complex and we don’t have time for it, we won’t enjoy it,” says Jesse. The band has a long list of songs it can play and music ranges from contemporary praise and worship, southern gospel, blues, bluegrass and classic hymns. Goshen Travelers certainly provides a unique music ministry.
Bandmates Missy and her sister, Stephanie, have been singing in the church for 25 years. “Music means the world to me and is everything to me,” says Missy. “We will go to these places and sing and people will tell us how much this particular song touched them or that it brought back a memory.” Missy says that they can really see the joy their music brings to people and her hope is that their songs will always bring that level of happiness to people. “We love to spread the Word,” she adds.
Jesse also comes from a musical background. He started playing drums when he was nine and played at several different churches throughout middle and high school. When the pastor at Goshen UMC asked him to play in the band, he accepted the offer. Now he serves as the leader of the worship team. “We are using a God-given talent in a worthy way. It gives me energy,” says Jesse. “Every Sunday morning, I get to play and I get to play when we do gigs. This whole thing is pretty awesome. The band comes out energized and we always look forward to the next one.”
There is always something for someone, no matter which style you prefer. The band plays songs by contemporary Christian bands such as Casting Crowns, Third Day and Hillsong, but also songs from 100 years ago. They play hymns, adding a little of their own spice to them, as well as old rugged cross songs. Their variety is a blessing especially because of the diversity of the places they play. Goshen Travelers have been heard in church luncheons and dinners, at Old Effingham Days, and at the Effingham County Fair (which they’re playing again this year). Jesse says one of the coolest gigs they’ve played is at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island, Georgia, during a women’s retreat. He laughs when he says the women tried to lock the doors to keep them in. They just recently played at a men’s retreat at Epworth by the Sea. “People feed off our energy on stage. It brings energy to everyone. There’s something about music and how it soothes the soul and energizes you,” says Jesse. “It can change your mood very easily. Hearing something positive can only bring joy to your face.”
Goshen Travelers has also released its first CD. Last May, just before the release, the band played a concert at the Mars Theatre in Springfield, Georgia. They nearly sold out the 220-seat venue with only a three-week lead time. The band recalls how different the setting was, but how fun it was. Jesse smiles when he mentions how awesome the sound system at the theatre was.
One thing to note is band members don’t do this for money – they do it to spread the gospel. They don’t charge a playing fee instead they ask for a love donation. All the money goes back into the band to buy equipment and to help cover travel costs. They typically give everyone they play for a copy of the band’s CD. Missy jokes and says they don’t play for money, but they will play for food.