With memories spanning multiple decades, members of the musical group Truth gathered June 16 and 17 at Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile to fellowship and remember.
While they were together, they honored founder and director Roger Breland and his wife Linda at a banquet preceding Thursday night’s 50th Reunion concert. Breland’s son Jason intentionally chose Father’s Day weekend to honor his parents with the gathering.
Concerts provided music and testimony, with longtime fans celebrating alongside former Truth members both in person and via satellite. Well-loved songs and singers were paired with stories of days on the road, victories, challenges and overcoming together in the name of God.
Powerful worship performances included former members of Truth, including Andy Chrisman, Mark Harris and Kirk Sullivan of 4Him, Natalie Grant, Dick and Melodie Tunney, Russ Lee, Tiffany Coburn, Jody McBrayer, Alicia Garcia, Leigh Cappillino and others.
In a video greeting, Bill Gaither expressed friendship for Breland and his belief in the impact of Truth through the years.
Prior to Friday night, a reception was held for those who also attended the 50th Reunion banquet, including the Tunneys who met while touring with Truth in the late 70s. They later married, touring with other well-known artists such as The Imperials and Sandi Patty. They also are known for their many creative endeavors, including cowriting hymns and other songs.
“Truth opened doors to churches, arrangers and artists we could never have imagined, some who would teach us and help us grow. Being in Truth was a privilege,” the couple said.
‘A time of growth’
Mobile and Baldwin County area fans may recognize the name Byron Day, a FOX 10 news anchor and former member of Truth 1. As the name implies, it was the first group launched, traveling in three Chrysler station wagons and a heavy duty truck. Day recalled that first tour as being “both exciting and scary” as well as “faith enhancing.”
“Being in Truth 1 was a time of growth for myself and others, preparing me for other career opportunities such as working for NBC Sports, traveling all over the world and recognizing that in all of it, God is faithful,” Day said.
When a group like Truth takes the stage, those behind the scenes may not get top billing, but they are integral to the ministry. There are bus drivers, people who handle sales tables at concerts, sound and lighting technicians, instrumentalists, scheduling managers and others who minister through various acts of service.
Peter Mueller was one of the first bus drivers in the early 70s. Laughter would be a necessary release for that many people traveling on a bus for concerts numbering in excess of 300 per year.
“We saw a couple of good miracles in that first bus tour,” he recalled. “God’s hand was certainly upon us. There was also a lot of laughter, to the point of rolling in the aisles.”
And what is a traveling music group without faithful groupies? Michael Catt and his wife Terri claim to be among the very first. When the Jesus Movement made it to Mississippi, 19-year-old Michael became a Christian and soon heard Truth at a church in Pascagoula.
“There was this new cutting-edge music … this whole feel … and it captured our hearts with music we understood as teenagers,” Catt remembered. “Their songs became memorial stones.”
Both went out of their way to attend Truth concerts as often as possible, working at sales tables or jumping in wherever they could help. Between the two, they attended more than 50 concerts in those first years. It was there they got to know each other, fall in love and eventually marry, going on to serve in ministry at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, home to Sherwood Productions of “Facing the Giants” movie fame.
A friendship also developed between Catt and Breland, and as time went on Sherwood Baptist became a sort of home away from home for the members of Truth as they traveled through Georgia, with Catt becoming known as “the mailman,” receiving and delivering mail for the group.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants,” Catt declared. “Truth 2 stood on the shoulders of Truth 1, and so on, all because Roger Breland gave them a chance, leading to other doors that God opens.”
Another behind-the-scenes supporter, Dan Busey, describes himself as both a fan and friend of Truth.
“My sister Dina and I heard the group in the early years and sought them out whenever they would be in the Carolinas or Virginia, volunteering initially on a Christmas tour that turned into 14 additional years of voluntary service with the group and friendships with approximately 400 members including band and vocal members,” Busey recalled.
“Dina went to be with the Lord about nine years ago, and if she were still here, she would be at this reunion. But as wonderful as it is, I’m reminded that, like the Truth song says in ‘If You Could See Me Now,’ she’s in the better place.”
Examples of impact
Greg Golden was scheduling manager for more than 27 years, and he and his wife had the rare privilege of Truth singing at their wedding.
“I conveniently scheduled the group at a church in the city where my fiancé Debbie and I were to be married,” Golden admitted. “So it worked out nicely that Truth could sing a cappella their rendition of ‘Oh Perfect Love,’ from the church balcony, and Dan Lilley played ‘Trumpet Voluntary’ for the processional.”
Christy Bovee sang with Truth from 1988–1990 and like several others, met her future husband Mark, who was a pianist for the group.
“It was the hardest two years of my life. I was a new believer and learned so much about myself,” Bovee recalled. “Because I was a new Christian, I struggled with confidence, but I learned I wasn’t alone, and also learned how to work really hard.”
Breland expressed his gratitude to those at the reunion.
“People in Alabama have been so good to us. Without Jesus and the investment in the lives of students by leadership among Alabama Baptists … it gave support and credibility across the convention, and it has trickled down, giving the ability to touch lives in 27 countries, over 1,000 concerts and millions of people saved.
“I am both surprised and blessed by the number of people in attendance for this concert.”
Read more about the history of the musical group Truth here.