FAITH ALIVE: Jack Leon

December 27, 2008 

Where’s your hometown?

I’m from Jacksonville, Fla. I was raised at First Baptist, Jacksonville. I worked for First Baptist when I turned 17, as a summer intern. Then the church called back in 2005 and said, “Can you help with youth choir?” I worked there for eight months. I grew that choir to 120. That summer, I had 250 middle-schoolers which was awesome.

What about after that?

I went from there to the University of Alabama-Mobile, and worked at Tillman’s Corner Baptist Church. I was the associate minister of music. I did everything from orchestra to youth choir. We ran 900 people on Sunday morning. Last December, I moved to Atlanta. A guy I worked with in Jacksonville, Randy Brooks, asked me to be his associate at First Baptist, Atlanta. That’s the journey that led me here. I was in Atlanta for about eight months. The choir here has grown to be 35-40 people. We just put on a Christmas musical with 65 singers and 600 in attendance between both nights.

Why the brief tenure in Atlanta? It’s the average stay of a music minister. People grab you up when you’re in that situation. First Baptist Atlanta is a different kind of animal. The service is broadcast in 75 languages.

So this is the first time you’ve been the music director? Yes, or as someone said to me the other day: This is the first time the buck stops with me.

Where’s your family? My parents are in Jacksonville and my sister’s in Mobile. I didn’t finish my degree but will go to Columbus State next semester. That was another draw to Columbus.

What’s your specialty? My top three are conducting, arranging and choir building.

In your early experience with the Jacksonville church, how did you know this was what you were supposed to do? It fit. It worked for me. I learned more that year than most guys who go to school.

What’s something you can’t do without? My Blackberry. I can lose my keys and my wallet, but I can’t do without my Blackberry.

Some call it Crackberry.

It’s my Crackberry, yes. Most nights it’s in the bed with me. I do Facebook on it and have three e-mail accounts. I tried the iPhone but it didn’t work for me.

When did you come to faith? It was in 2004. I was singing with a youth choir in Kinston, N.C. A girl got up and said she thought she was saved but she needed to be sure. That challenged me. Jay Strack preached the message but I wasn’t really listening.

What do you do in your spare time? What spare time? I like photography, I’m a techno freak and communications junkie; and I like Starbucks.

What’s your favorite beverage? A grande upside down caramel macchiato soy, two pumps toffey nut, no foam.

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