Welcome to Feature Friday! This is the section of our new site where we get to gather around, learn from one another, create together and get to know each other. For the next couple of months, we will be introducing you to a different person in our region who is involved in making worship happen.
Today, we are featuring Merritt Harris. Merritt is a part of the Syracuse Vineyard Church and serves on the worship team.
Tell Us About Yourself!
My name is Merritt Harris. My wife, Christine and I recently celebrated our 7-year anniversary and we have three beautiful children. I work with kids and families as a Care Coordinator which I love. In my spare time, I'm a songwriter, home studio producer and I volunteer on drums and bass at the Syracuse Vineyard.
What church do you serve at?
In what way do you serve the worship team?
I currently play drums and bass. I also recently recorded/produced a song for Bettyjo Jivoff, one of our worship leaders. We recorded it so that the worship team can learn the parts and to use the backing tracks, but I'm hoping we can record more original songs to release someday!
What is a book that changed your life?
The book Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne had a large impact on my life. It gave me a fresh perspective and really inspired me to live like Christ within the context of modern society. It actually was the catalyst for my decision to be a part of Mission Year, a year-long volunteer program on Chicago's west side.
How did you first meet God?
One of my first encounters with God was in high school during an impromptu worship session with my brother and a close friend. The room was full of God’s presence and we all got goosebumps afterwards. I must add that I've grown to understand that encountering God isn't something that only happens on the mountaintop when emotions are high. Lately, I find that God is present in the small things in life and I hope to increase my awareness of His movement around me.
Do you write songs?
Yes, but I haven’t written any congregational worship songs (yet ??). My songwriting has mostly been in the indie/folk realm, although I'm gravitating towards a more modern and pop-py feel. Some of my current influences are White Rabbits, The National, Andy Shauf, JR JR, Sufjan Stevens, The Beatles, Freelance Whales to name a few...
What is something that you like to do outside of your Church?
I love spending time with my family at home! I love making a cozy fire, roughhousing with my boys and eating... a lot! I also spend a lot of time writing music and performing with my band, Mountains & Valleys.
What aspect of worship ministry gives your the most joy?
I love the feeling when I get lost deep into the music, and the troubles of the world fade away from my mind. I find that I experience this the most while drumming. I also really enjoy how modern worship has such interesting and creative music, which makes playing it a joy.
What is the best piece of advice or training you have ever experienced?
I think my time in Mission Year was the most formative event in my life. It changed my perspective on poverty, justice and Jesus’ love for marginalized people. Another piece of advice that really stuck is that "marriage is hard work". It reminds me that when things are difficult, it's worth it to push through and work things out. I've grown so much because of my relationship with my beautiful wife!