Written by Emily Mullins
After years of having lyrics "bonking" around in her head, Heather Jerrie has expressed her love for the United Church of Christ the best way she knows how – through song. The member of First Congregational UCC in Menomonie, Wis., recently wrote the song "God is Still Speaking," and created an accompanying YouTube video that is nearing 600 views. The song was inspired by the UCC's "God is Still Speaking" campaign, which Jerrie says really struck a chord with her.
"When the UCC came out with that slogan, I was on fire," she said. "I just thought it was so wonderful, and such a great way to express that our faith is still unfolding and that God is still speaking for the world and for justice."
A fourth grade teacher by profession, Jerrie has been a songwriter for most of her life, and has even produced an album. Like one of her idols, folk singer and musical activist Pete Seeger, Jerrie believes that music can help make the world a better place and can bring joy and healing to others. After finishing the song this summer and performing it for her congregation, fellow members encouraged her to make it accessible to others by putting it on YouTube.
After trying to film a video of herself performing it, during which she felt "shy and uncomfortable," she decided to play the song against a backdrop of inspirational images that illustrate the idea that God is indeed still speaking. She contacted friends and relatives who love photography and asked them to send her photos depicting the way God speaks in their lives, and received an amazing variety of images she incorporated into the video, along with some of her own photos and images she found online.
"Imagery can speak so loudly," she said. "With the photographs from other people, it became more than just my project. It was really neat the way it unfolded."
Jerrie is surprised by how many people have taken an interest in her song – like her friend's sister who wants to use it in the confirmation classes she teaches to promote discussions among her students of ways God speaks to them, or the pastor of a Vermillion, Ohio UCC church that is interested in using the song during worship. She currently has another song in the works titled "Let Me In," which will talk about the pains of being left out. While it's early in the creative process, Jerrie knows one verse will be about a young girl alone on the playground and another will be about a gay man standing at the door of a church, unsure if he is welcome there. But whatever the song, Jerrie hopes it will open people's hearts and lift their spirits.
"Keep looking around at everything in your life," she said. "I really believe God is still speaking in countless ways all around us."