By Joanne Mullin April 2, 2016, sent in by Carole Derry-Bretsch, posted April 13, 2016 by Debbonnaire Kovacs
This summer the Heritage Singers will be celebrating its 45th anniversary with a live concert featuring over 130 former and current Heritage Singers on stage. The group has announced that this will be its last reunion concert. After 45 years, the Heritage Singers’ ministry has reached around the globe. The group has performed over 7,000 concerts, in over 75 countries, produced 200 television programs, and recorded over 100 albums.
Former Heritage Singer Joanne (Velting) Mullin, and co-author of the Heritage Singers’ story, Beyond Our Dreams, published in 2010, asked the group’s founders, Max and Lucy Mace, for their comments about this milestone, and what it means for the future of the Heritage ministry.
Joanne: Max, when you and Lucy founded the Heritage Singers back in 1971, did you have any idea what you were getting into?
Max: Not really; when we started out, we wanted to have a singing group, and thought we’d go for a couple of years. But the ministry soon became more than singing. That first summer, we were humbled and in awe as we began to see how God was working through the Heritage Singers to change peoples’ lives. We saw prayers answered. There was no doubt that this was something more powerful than what we had imagined. Seeing how God was working through us gave us the sense of purpose we needed to continue to find the strength and courage we needed to go forward each day. We had no money. It was totally about being part of something much larger than ourselves. We had to just let go of our own ideas, such as they were, and let God do His work.
Lucy: There were many times when we weren’t sure where our next dollar was coming from, and we’d go to the mailbox, and a check would be there. This happened many times. It was often difficult to see a clear direction for the ministry. It was one day to the next. But through it all, we just put our trust in God and He was faithful to meet our needs. We knew that God had a plan for us. Now, He didn’t lay it all out for us — it was revealed it to us one day at a time. Our faith was tested every day.
Joanne: Flash forward to today: The Heritage Singers have recorded over 100 albums, and produced over 200 television programs. You have travelled all over the world, and have performed over 7,000 concerts in over 75 countries. Yet, I’ve been to the Dove Awards in Nashville. It was hard for me to sit there, watching all of the other Christian Contemporary artists win the big awards, knowing that Heritage would have blown them away. That whole scene seemed to elude you. Why is that? And, how do you feel about that?
Max: Over the years we had some pivotal moments when we had to make some tough decisions about who we were, and what was important to us. Oh, we had the offers and opportunities you would expect. And, I’m not going to lie, the offers were pretty flattering. And tempting — coming at times we really could have used the money and marketing boost. But, we didn’t rush into anything. We gave it a lot of thought, and prayed about it. And we came to realize that we were so much more than music performers and producers. We had a ministry we wanted to protect and continue. We wanted to maintain control over the style of our music, and not abandon our loyal audiences. We wanted to maintain ownership of our music, so we could control how it was used in the future. It’s a decision we have never regretted.
Joanne: You mentioned your audiences. Your primary audience has always been the Adventist Church community, and its institutions. In the early years, your music style was kind of a shock to some of your audiences, right?
Max: Well, we had a more contemporary sound than some people were comfortable with at the time, and we were not welcome in some churches. We were sensitive to peoples’ concerns, and tried to tailor our concerts to specific audiences. But it took several years, really, for our music to be widely accepted.
Things have changed! The children who grew up hearing the Heritage Singers are now the leaders in the Adventist Church, its universities and medical centers. The Heritage Singers are not only welcomed everywhere, but invited and sponsored for special events of the church.
Joanne: So, what was it, really, that has kept you going all of these years?
Max: We have always felt that we are God’s voice to those without hope. Seeing someone come forward at a concert and give their life to Jesus is what it’s all about. Being a self-supporting ministry for 45 years has been a challenge but God is faithful.
Lucy: We continue to be overwhelmed by the many hurting people we come into contact with day-to-day. There are a lot of people, in every walk of life, who are exhausted and discouraged. We all feel that way from time to time. People need to be encouraged. Sometimes a song is the best way to communicate that message.
Joanne: As you approach your 45th Anniversary Reunion Concert, and you look back over the Heritage Singers’ legacy, what are your thoughts about what the Heritage ministry has brought to your life, personally?
Max: I believe it is being able to use my God given talent and having my passion for music being fulfilled through a life of service. Lucy’s and my real joy is letting God work through us to help others.
Lucy: And we got to have our kids, Greg and Val, and their families, be a part of our lives and our ministry. They are very much a part of the Heritage ministry. We couldn’t still be active without their dedication and energy. They have kept us young, and have kept the ministry vibrant and relevant.
Joanne: Speaking of kids — I feel like I am one of your kids. There are hundreds of singers, musicians, and others who have been involved with the Heritage ministry who feel like they are a part of your family. In fact, you have helped many of them through some tough times in their lives, long after they’ve left Heritage. This, in itself, has been an important part of your ministry.
Lucy: We are realizing that now. So many former Heritage Singers have become ministers themselves, or gone on to be professional music producers, or leaders in various fields, or in some way, continued to serve others. Over the years, God has given this ministry over 300 singers. We still feel like they are our kids. That’s why we love reunions. It’s just a wonderful feeling to see our singers, and reconnect with them again.
Joanne: The upcoming 45th reunion concert is being billed as the Heritage Singers’ final reunion concert. Also, Max, you had a health scare recently. You had serious diagnosis that caused you to face some tough possibilities. Miraculously, you were healed from cancer. What does all of this mean for the future of the Heritage Singers’ ministry?
Max: I’ve always said that we will continue this ministry as long as my health permits and God provides the financial needs. I will also say that sometimes what looks like an ending is really a new beginning. There are other ways to continue the Heritage Singers’ ministry other than old man Max getting on the bus.
If God wants the Heritage Singers’ ministry to continue in some way, He will open new doors. There are no limits to what God can do. And I’m not going to get in His way.
We don’t know what the future holds. But what I do know is that we’re getting closer to the return of our precious Savior. Our reunion concerts are a little taste of what the big reunion will be like when we get to heaven and once again stand side by side with those we love and sing songs together. Pray that we all will be there.
Don’t miss the Heritage Singers 45th Anniversary Reunion Concert! This will be our last reunion concert with over 100 former and current Heritage Singers on stage!