The pastor of a Surrey church is preparing to perform a concert in the sanctuary she knows well.
Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford has worked at Whalley’s Christ the King Lutheran Church since November of 2017. Prior to that, while serving as pastor at First Lutheran Church in Vancouver, she released two CDs of music, and is now about to launch a third in Surrey with a performance on Saturday, March 2, starting at 7 p.m.
Her new collection, called Psalms for a Peaceful Heart, continues on a theme of songs inspired by a particular section of the Bible. Ever since she can remember, Boutin-Crawford has been drawn to the Psalms.
Beginning in her late teens, she would often pick up a guitar when reading her Bible, “and music would arise from my time in prayer,” she notes in a post on her website (pastorlori-anne.com). “It was here that I learned that all of my feelings were acceptable to God, and I did not need to hide any part of myself, no matter how inappropriate I would judge it to be. God, I realized, could handle all of me, and all the colourful shades of my prayers.”
Boutin-Crawford, who grew up in Saskatchewan, now lives in Vancouver with her family and commutes to Surrey for her work at Christ the King.
Two years ago, in February of 2017, the church congregation opened the doors to its modern new home some 60 years after the first service was held on the site.
The building, located at the corner of 104th Avenue and 133A Street, had been under construction for nearly three years. During that time, church-goers gathered for services in a retail space at Dell Shopping Centre on King George Boulevard.
Bosa Properties built the church building as part of a land-sale deal with the congregation that involved construction of a residential tower next door. Close to 200 people can be seated in the sanctuary and adjacent fellowship hall. “The acoustics in here are incredible,” Boutin-Crawford raved.
For the concert on March 2, admission is by donation in a fundraiser for the church.
“I’ll play songs and tell some stories,” Boutin-Crawford explained, “and I’ll include songs from my three albums – some of my favourites.”
Her performance at the church will be her official concert debut there, with support from Water’s Edge Production and producer Derek MacNeill. “But we’ve held Christmas concerts here before,” Boutin-Crawford added, “and I’ve hopped on piano and guitar here and there, so they’re used to hearing me sing,” she said of the congregation.
In another web post, the pastor writes about travelling to Nashville as a 20-year-old in search of a career as a singer-songwriter.
“One of my cousins saw an ad in a local newspaper and suggested that I audition for a talent agency,” Boutin-Crawford recalls. “After talking about it with my mom, to my amazement, she agreed to take me for a chance to ‘make it’ and fulfill my dream to record and perform my songs.
“The night before my audition, I was a ball of nerves, completely and utterly anxious about performing. I felt sick to my stomach, and wondered if I would fail and freeze when it was time to sing. Before I fell asleep, I surrendered my dream to God, and began to understand the immensity of what was before me.
“Miraculously, I awoke the next morning in incredible peace, and delivered my audition extremely well and I was invited out with a manager to sing at a local club afterwards. All auditions that day were aired locally, and viewers were asked to vote on their favourite performer. I happened to win the contest, and received an invitation to sing at the Grand Ole Opry for another contest of successful auditions only months later.”
She declined the invitation, and came to realize that singing country music wasn’t really what she wanted to do.
“Although I had written love ballads,” Boutin-Crawford noted, “the kind of music that really poured out of my heart was about my faith and my relationship with God. I felt a bit embarrassed of the fact that this was my passion. I didn’t feel like I lived up to an acceptable social standard, because I thought ‘faith really isn’t all that cool.’ I didn’t think anyone would really like my music and so I kept most of this music hidden and unheard.”
Years later, at age 28, she began training to become a pastor – a decision that only came after “sensing the constant nagging of God in my being and life experiences,” she says.
“God is really difficult to ignore and avoid. It took me quite a while to find my voice, and want to share it.
“I pray that this music will be an instrument of healing for those who are suffering, and for those who are in need of solace that God is with us in our times of greatest disappointment and despair. I pray that these songs be a light for those living in darkness, as they are waiting for God’s light to shine. May this music bring comfort to the lonely, trust to the despairing, and solace that we are all unforgotten and held by the God who is with us always.”