Growing up, "Nearer My God To Thee" was Ken Curl's favorite song.
Music has always inspired the new pastor at Payson Community Christian Church.
As a young man, Curl chose a music major at the College of Emporia (in Kansas) in preparation for the ministry.
His love of music has been an asset in churches both rural and international.
After earning his divinity degree in 1975 from the Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, he pastored at several churches in Montana. During the summer of 1980 a college buddy of Curl's who had been doing missionary work in Argentina came to visit.
"Jim and I were sitting on the living room floor playing our guitars one afternoon and he said, ‘Wouldn't it be cool if somebody with musical ability could come and be a part of our work in Argentina?'" Curl said.
It took several years to raise the support to go, but four years later, the Curl's and their four children, ranging in age from 14 to 4, were bound for South America.
They stayed for a year soaking up the Latin culture and learning the language.
Wherever the family went they walked or rode the bus in order to "rub elbows" with other people, because, as Curl put it, "the car is a cultural bubble -- it insulates you from people."
The Curls spent most of the next eight years in Argentina, with a couple of trips home to the U.S. and a year in Venezuela to meet the educational needs of their own children.
While living at the missionary children's school near Salta, Argentina, Curl made the five-hour drive to Tucuman once a week to teach music theory and worship.
"Gloria al Rey" or "Praise to the King," a song Curl composed, was first performed at a youth rally there.
Back in the United States, and in his new post in Payson, Curl is already making musical plans for his congregation.
A Christmas Cantata is already in the works for December.
The 80-page Cantata is one Curl composed in the 1970s. He hopes singers from several different area churches will join together for the choir.
Since Curl has stood at the pulpit, the nursery has been remodeled to accommodate the church's littlest members and now, the church is in search of a youth leader who wants to lead that group, possibly on a Saturday night.
Curl has missed a few Sunday's in pursuit of the leadership role he said he feels God has for him. He is taking classes to obtain his doctorate in ministry. Designing and implementing a ministry project at Payson Community Christian Church will be part of his thesis due in 2008.
-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.