Vertical Worship performed in A.J. Gordon Chapel Friday, Oct. 11. Originally known as Vertical Church Band from Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, IL., their mission and inspiration come from a desire “to write songs of ascription for the church to use in worshiping Christ around the world.”
They have released four albums through Essential Records, “Live Worship from Vertical Church” in 2012, “The Rock Won’t Move” in 2013, “Church Songs” in 2015, and “Frontiers” in 2016—with the last two albums peaking at number one on the Christian Billboards chart. There are five members currently in the band: Andi Rozier, Jake France, Tara Stutes and Lauren Sweeney-Smith but Jake, Tara, Eddie Hoagland (lead pastor of worship and production), James Herlo, Cassie and Kyle Rahtjen were the only band members present for the performance.
On Oct. 4 there was a celebratory convocation in commemoration of Gordon College’s 130 birthday, and during this gathering together of students, faculty, staff and alumni an announcement was made that entailed with it free tickets for students to attend the Vertical Worship concert. The turnout included a mix of students, families, and faculty that filled a majority of the chapel space. Their set list started with “Spirit of the Living God” from their album “Church Songs” which currently has 13, 457, 963 streams on Spotify, followed by “King of my heart” written by Bethel Music, “Yes I Will” which is their most listened to song, from their album “Bright Faith Bold Future”, with 24, 542, 397 streams on Spotify. Other songs were intermingled between prayer and reflection and they finished with “Great are You Lord” written by One Sonic Society.
Eddie Hoagland graduate of Liberty University, took time to illustrate the meaning behind Vertical Worship which has to do with “ascribing worth to God, celebrating what He has done and growing as worshippers.” He went on to open up about how Harvest Bible Chapel has experienced a difficult year and this tumultuous time has affected the band members’ personal lives. Through difficulty “worship brings rest and they see God blessing the cost of their worship because praise should not be easy but sacrificial.”
Hoagland cites the end of 2 Samuel and the narrative of David and Araunah the Jebusite who owned the threshing floor on which David wanted to build an altar. There was a discussion between them which resulted in Araunah offering his property for free. David responds by saying: “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). This speaks to Hoagland’s sentiment surrounding worship and its cost, because of everything God has given us we are able to give praise back to Him.
After this message, Hoagland goes on to outline five Psalms that instruct believers on how to worship: Psalm 96:1, “…sing to the LORD, all the earth,” Psalm 66:1, “shout for joy to God, all the earth,” Psalm 47:1, “clap your hands, all you nations…,” Psalm 149:3, “let them praise his name with dancing…,” and Psalm 143:6, “I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.” Praise in the words of Eddie Hoagland and Vertical Worship is grounded in obedience and while “the enemy wants to overwhelm you, the Lord wants to encourage you, because we are His.”