A message to those who attend the 5:30 p.m. Sunday contemporary worship service at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church: Your prayers have been answered.
Those who've long enjoyed the upbeat, rock 'n' roll-flavored Christian music of the Praise Team that performs during the service finally have what they've been waiting for -- "Sing to the Lord Most High," a professionally produced compilation of songs from the group's repertoire.
"A lot of people who attend the 5:30 p.m. service have asked for this. They say, 'When are you going to make a CD?' because they want an opportunity to hear this music during the rest of the week," said Karin Feltman, the team's lead female vocalist.
"They say they find our music uplifting and moving. They really wanted a chance to be able to listen to this music that touches them at some time other than just 5:30 p.m. Sundays."
Work began on the CD, which actually draws upon the talents of volunteers who perform music at the church's three major worship services -- 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. -- in November 2002 at St. Margaret's, 5700 W. Sixth St.
The main recording was done on location, followed by nearly a year of work in the studio for the process of cleaning it up and re-mixing it.
This part of the project was conducted by recording engineer Sam Platt, former owner of Red House Recording in Eudora and now a part of Premier Studios in Lenexa.
"Sing to the Lord Most High" features 11 tracks of contemporary Christian praise music, plus a one-minute "hidden" track based upon a portion of the Episcopal liturgy and set to rock 'n' roll.
The CD's liner notes list the contributions of 14 musicians from St. Margaret's performing vocals, guitar, rhythm, bass, keyboards, percussion and recorder.
Ed Goeke, St. Margaret's director of worship arts, produced the CD.
"It was an idea that germinated way back in the beginning of 2002. We had collected a Praise Team and had had some wonderful worship experiences together. The idea was, 'Why not make a recording?'" Goeke said.
"We thought this is a worthy effort, and we prayed about it. Through the gift of benefactors here (at St. Margaret's), they gave us the gift of time in a recording studio."
Steve Ilardi, an associate professor of psychology at Kansas University, is the 5:30 p.m. Praise Team's keyboardist and performs on the CD.
He and his wife, Maria Ilardi, founded the St. Margaret's contemporary worship service in the fall of 1999 and formed the original Praise Team.
That team has evolved into an accomplished musical group in its own right.
"Ed (Goeke) has played bass professionally for more than 25 years. Glenn Leonardi plays professionally with a country-rock band locally (Flint Hills Thunder). John Momberg, our drummer, is also the drummer for the local band Kelpie," Ilardi said.
"So there are some real ringers there. It's just an amazing thing to be able to perform with folks of that talent."
Ilardi explained one of the reasons why the group recorded the CD.
"Ed's vision is that it is sort of an outreach that people might want to share with a friend or a family member who has an interest in sacred music, or who might be intrigued by the prospect of combining this august, Episcopalian tradition of 500 years of very formal, elegant liturgical worship with this cutting edge rock 'n' roll worship style," he said.
One thousand copies of the CD have been made. Goeke projected that about 200 copies of "Sing to the Lord Most High" will have to be sold for the project to break even. The CD costs $15.
"We've had pre-order sales of about 125 already," Goeke said. "People are thrilled with what they're hearing. When they look at the time and effort that we've put into it, they're just really excited about it."