Worship rock out

  Some of the musicians scheduled to play at the Raging Praise event on New Year’s Eve: John Mangiameli, Sequim Bible Church; Jonathon Simonson, pastor of Sequim Vineyard Church; and Dave Donaghay and Mark Schwartz of Sequim Bible Church. Lower right: Sequim Bible Church youth band, James Simonson, Caleb Simonson, and Bailey Bryan, play at 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve. Photos courtesy of Mark Schwartz

This New Year’s Eve, six worship music bands are rocking in the new year for Jesus.

Raging Praise, a contemporary Christian music event, is offered every other month and the New Year’s Eve bash is the fifth concert this year.
Mark Schwartz, founder and organizer of Raging Praise, said it is a family-friendly and church unifying event. “It’s really gratifying to see people worshipping on a Friday night,” Schwartz said.
“It’s hard to get churches to work together, but we’ve pushed hard and it’s going really well.”
Typically Raging Praise hosts a few bands each time but this time Schwartz wanted to include more than usual.  
Participating bands are from Calvary Chapel Sequim, The Crossing Church, Independent Bible Church, Sequim Bible Church and Sequim Vineyard Church.
Dave Wiitala, pastor of Sequim Bible Church, said he has a real drive to have other churches participate.
“It’s a time for us to meet each other and to hear and worship with other bands,” Wiitala said.
“We have a lot to offer here.”
 At their first event, in the summer, they rented six bounce houses and cooked hot dogs. They hosted a concert at the James Center for the Performing Arts. The New Year’s Eve concert offers free snacks, coffee, child care and plenty of live music.

Rock roots

Schwartz said Raging Praise began brewing as an idea after he found most churches have bands performing Sunday mornings.
“We have almost an infinite amount of talented musicians here,” Schwartz said.
“Every church seems to have a team that’s really qualified and talented (for Raging Praise). This (concert) helps create an opportunity for musicians to play out of the local bar scene and Sunday mornings, too.”
Bands play louder than at Sunday morning services, but the message and lyrics stay true, organizers said. “Theologically it hasn’t changed,” Schwartz said. “You have to stick with the Bible.”
He feels the contemporary style of Raging Praise better fits today’s modern music lifestyle. Music is mostly electric with some acoustic mixed in. A few hymns are even electrified, like “Amazing Grace.”
Raging Praise has been building momentum, Wiitala said. Attendance averages a few hundred people each concert.
“It’s bringing in the younger crowd and not-so younger crowd,” Schwartz said.
“The amount of youth is a positive sign. We have a big college student attendance, too.”
 Some attendees have used the event as an opportunity to become reacquainted or discover a church environment.
“The idea is to get people in who are afraid or don’t like church,” Schwartz said. “Another point is that there are not many things to do in this area, especially for free and as a family.”
Schwartz plans to continue Raging Praise in 2011. He encourages other church bands and musicians to participate.
Raging Praise is a free event but donations are taken for charities. The New Year’s Bash sponsors Sequim Vineyard Church’s Haitian refugee water project.
For more information on Raging Praise, contact Mark Schwartz at 808-2604 or e-mail him at

Reach Matthew Nash at

 Raging Praise New Year’s Eve Bash

Doors open:
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31
Sequim Bible Church,
847 N. Sequim Ave.
Free child care, snacks, espresso
- Grafted In, Sequim Calvary Chapel 7:30 p.m.
- The Crossing Church, 8:15 p.m.
- Sequim Bible Church youth band, 9 p.m.
- Sequim Vineyard Church, 9:45 p.m.
- Against the Grain, Independent Bible Church, 10:30 p.m.
- Sequim Bible Church contemporary band, 11:15 p.m.


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