For all the talk of playing Alabama music at college football games, I never considered doing it in church.

But that’s just what will happen Sunday — and in Arkansas of all places.

First Christian Church in Bentonville is conducting an annual Sacred in the Secular series. During the summer, the church will apply lessons from movies one week, music the next.

Last week, it was about the lessons of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The ways Fred Rogers helped children navigate the tumultuous late 1960s are amazingly applicable to the world we live in today.

(I watched this sermon because of the ceremony that preceded it, a dedication service for my infant nephew, James Sheppard. He wore the same gown I wore for infant dedication when I was 2 months old. It seems my mother likes to keep things.)

A preview video got my attention, when I heard that old familiar voice of Randy Owen. My curiosity has been piqued ever since.

The “authenticity of what they bring” is what makes the music of Alabama a fit for a sermon, the Rev. Don Morrow, senior pastor, told me this week.

“So many of their songs speak to, I think, the common life of common people and I find that they actually share a lot in common with what Jesus did, and that’s who Jesus spoke to and what he was a part of,” Morrow said from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was preaching at a seminary.

“He was a small-town boy and always appealed to the sensibilities of common people.”

Alabama, of course, had more than 40 No. 1 hits, and fitting that into an hour-long church service presents a bit of a challenge. Members of the congregation will hear snippets from eight.

They’ll start with “Mountain Music” and “I’m in a Hurry,” then move on to “Feels So Right” and “Then Again.”

“It was hard to pick out (selections) from the No. 1 love songs,” Morrow said.

Then they’ll move it on down the line to “40-Hour Week” and “Song of the South,” and round it out to “Angels Among Us” during communion and exit to “High Cotton.”

Regrettably, or thankfully, my sister will not be able to reprise her days as a student at the University of Alabama with a rendition of “Dixieland Delight.”

Speaking of the Capstone, Morrow teased his sermon at the end of the service last week by noting they’d be looking at the music of Alabama — “not ‘Roll Tide,’ no, it’s just the group” — and I have to say I was interested by the recognition for a group those of us who grew up with the band as a local fact of life have outside our area.

“It’s one of the ones (in the series) I think has gotten people most excited — certainly people over the age of 30 or 35 are familiar with so much of Alabama,” Morrow said.

He said it’s the first concert he ever went to. It was mine as well. It’s also the next one he’ll be going to — the band is playing the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers on July 12.

Like most shows on the tour, it figures to draw a big crowd. People love the band because its music endures — on the stage, on your iPhone or even in church.

Watch the sermon live at 11 a.m. Sunday, or archived thereafter, at

— David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Walton Tribune. He was publisher of the Times-Journal from 2011 to 2015. Email:

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