Choir Council Members 2016 – 2017

Choir Council Members for the 2016 – 2017 Choir Year President:  Tracy Praestholm Vice President:  Vickie Scott Secretary:  Anita Gebhardt Treasurer:  Jane Fore Shepherd:  Ruthie Horner Attendance/Coordinator:  Joy Ferguson Communications:  E>Major – Tracy Praestholm Website – Rebecca Gebhardt Devotions:  Pam … Continue reading

Choir Council Members 2015 – 2016

Choir Council Members for the 2015 – 2016 Choir Year President:  Mike Lesh Vice President:  Tracy Praestholm Secretary:  Chris Gebhardt Treasurer:  Jane Fore Shepherd:  Ruthie Horner Attendance/Coordinator:  Joy Ferguson Communications:  E>Major – Tracy Praestholm Website – Rebecca Gebhardt Devotions:  Pam … Continue reading

Choir Council Members 2014 – 2015

Choir Council Members for the 2014 – 2015 Choir Year

President:  Rebecca Gebhardt

Vice President:  Mike Lesh

Secretary:  Chris Gebhardt

Treasurer:  Jane Fore

Shepherd:  Ruthie Horner

Attendance/Coordinator:  Joy Ferguson

Communications:  Tracy Praestholm

Devotions:  Pam Peterson

Joys & Concerns:  Eileen Stanley


Debbie Dethlefsen
Beth Huntington
Elaine Anaya

Robe Warriors: 

Ladies – Sharon Quigley
Men – Chris Gebhardt

Section Leaders: 

Altos – Connie Ager
Basses – Joel Blaisdell
Sopranos – Anita Gebhardt
Tenors – Carlton Dinwiddie

Music Director/Minister:  Tim Morrison

Choir Council Members 2013 – 2014

Choir Council Members for the 2013 – 2014 Choir Year President:  Brian Jones Vice President:  Rebecca Gebhardt Secretary:  Kim Weiner Treasurer:  Jane Fore Shepherd:  Ruthie Horner Attendance/Coordinator:  Joy Ferguson Communications:  Tracy Praestholm Devotions:  Melinda Propes Joys & Concerns:  Eileen Stanley … Continue reading

Woody Edwards playing violin in the CRUMC Orchestra.





Woody Edwards, a terrific Tenor, was born in Pensacola, Florida. He was an only child until he was almost 14 years old. He is grateful for everything he has acquired in his life.

“I credit my parents, family and church for significant nurturing and instilling values and work ethic in me,” Woody said. “I have often wondered if, without these things, would I be the one in prison or the one living under a bridge?”

Woody’s passion for music began with playing trumpet in junior high school. Due to the great folk music scare of the late 60’s as a child, the guitar and banjo got him started with string instruments. At one point, he thought the five-string banjo would be a career path. Afterwards, he picked up the fiddle, which morphed into six years of Suzuki violin lessons – leading to sitting in the Custer Road UMC string ensemble.

Woody received a degree in accounting, and then proceeded to go back to school for a degree in computer science. This turned into his “meal ticket” for the following 30 years at Texas Instruments (TI) in IT because “he knew a good number from a bad one.”

“TI was a fantastic ride for me,” Woody said. “I was able to ride what I call ‘The Golden Age of Data Processing’ with the last 14 years being business continuity and disaster recovery for the central data center. In supporting TI’s worldwide data centers, I was blessed to see some of the most interesting places on the globe.”

Woody started singing in the Chancel Choir in 1995 because of Tim Morrison and the combined choir performances with the Plano Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to passions for IT and music, Woody joined Toastmasters to improve his speaking and leadership skills. In 2006, he took the lessons to sponsor a youth Toastmasters club for middle and senior high school students.

“This is a tremendous confidence builder and provides life skills not provided in schools,” Woody said. “These young people are amazing. While this is a secular organization, these youth are as full of God’s grace as anyone you might meet. After each of our meetings as I’m turning out the lights and picking up their little spit wads, I ask myself, ‘who exactly is the mentor here?’”

When his mother passed away in 2014, Woody had to decide between living in Pensacola or Dallas. He decided to stay in Texas primarily because of the “bounty of opportunities” available at Custer Road.

“Custer Road is truly doing what Christ intended us to do, not just music, but missions,” Woody said. “When I tell people we house homeless in our church, their response is typically, ‘you can’t do that.’ Family Promise is also important to me.”

Woody views his Sunday school class, Finding Our Way, Chancel Choir, and orchestra as “anchor points” in his life.

“Our Sunday School class is open about discussing our faith, what we believe and what we may or may not accept about that,” Woody said. “We are all blessed by friendships in Chancel Choir and our ability to contribute in worship and care for one another.”

Thinking back to Easter morning, Kory Knott’s sermon had a significant impact on Woody and his faith.

“Pastor Kory’s Easter sermon with the admonition to not roll the stone back over the tomb has registered quite strongly with me,” Woody said. “I hope worship services that day and Good Friday were as meaningful for you as it was to me. Not rolling the stone over translates to finding out what is next, ahead of me.”

“I know one thing: more will be revealed.”

Submitted by Kara Shrum
April 27, 2017


This image is Jim and Betty Damiano’s engagement picture from 1964.





Jim Damiano, a brilliant bass, was born in Utica, New York. His full name is Vincent Rocco Damiano, Jr. His parents’ first language was Italian, as his grandparents were born in Southern Italy and immigrated from 1898 to 1921.

“When my dad started Kindergarten, he did not know any English,” Jim said. “When asked about his name by the teacher who spoke Italian, he replied ‘Enzeh,’ or the nickname for Vincenzo. I guess it sounded like James to the teacher, and as a kid, I was stuck with it. My dad told his parents that his English name was James.”

As a child, Jim’s mom brought him to the local library and he has been hooked on reading ever since.

Jim met his now bride of 52 years, Betty Rockwell Damiano, at a college hangout in Rochester, New York in 1964 as “love at first sight.” Jim described his wife as “the truest person he had ever met and his best friend.”

Jim and Betty have three children, Rebecca, James and Cheryl and four grandchildren, Justin, Taylor, Savannah and Brooklyn.

He also loves writing, and has gotten two novels published, the first in 2005 and the second in 2008. Jim has also “dabbled” in music, having written a song for his daughter, Rebecca’s, wedding in 1996 for her to sing to her groom, Chris Gebhardt.

“It was easy to write this song for my daughter as I was thinking of my bride, Betty, and words and music just flowed,” Jim said.

Jim’s favorite form of writing is poetry. He wrote several poems for the Chancel Choir’s Christmas service a couple of years ago.  He said he “writes poetry to express times of his life that have been troubling and is a good way to capture what he is feeling.”

In addition to reading and writing, Jim’s newest venture is gardening. He said they have acreage and have planted a pecan orchard of about 200 trees and 40 varied fruit trees.

“I just love to watch God’s work as He shows His creation for me to enjoy in this form of hobby I call a labor of love,” Jim said.

Jim also enjoys traveling, his favorite place being Colonial Williamsburg. Jim and Betty first joined Custer Road UMC in 1995 through 2002 when they moved to McKinney and returned in 2014. Jim and Betty have been members of the Chancel Choir for 10+ years and views it as a “large part” of his life.

Jim also reflects on what Lent meant to his family when he was growing up in a Catholic household.

“As a kid, it was a necessity to focus on why Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for us, and that was something that was pushed by family, church and my Catholic schooling,” Jim said. “I rebelled some until I saw the light of my true feelings about Lent that one must do what one feels is best. I felt to live as Jesus would want me to live would be the best option.”


Please take some time and read this poem written by Jim Damiano for the Chancel Choir in 1999: 

CLICK HERE –> Easter

Submitted by Kara Shrum
April 5, 2017

Bob and Pam Peterson at the last night Gala in Rome with Chancel Choir in 2014.




Pam Peterson, an awesome Alto, is well traveled – her dad being in the Air Force. She lived in a number of different places (Vermont, New York, Germany, New Mexico, Alaska and then Texas) all before graduating from high school in Sherman.

Pam said she thinks her childhood fueled her love of traveling, which she shares with her husband, Bob, of 44 years. She has traveled to parts of Canada, Europe (London, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Spain, Latvia, Estonia, Italy, Greece, Turkey and St. Petersburg, Russia) as well as Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark and Sweden) and the Orient (China – where she studied Chinese embroidery – and Korea).

“Each country and culture has a uniqueness all its own, and I love traveling so I can learn new cultures and visit with the people,” Pam said. “We are all so different, and yet in so many ways, we are so much alike! I don’t really have a “favorite” place to travel, but one of my most memorable trips was our choir trip to Rome, which also marked my 50th year of singing in a choir!

Pam is very proud of her daughter, Katie, and her newest family addition, Luke Elliott, her grandson. Katie’s husband, Eric, is an A-10 pilot in the U.S. Air Force.  Katie is a full-time mom, and she is teaching Luke baby sign language.

Before retirement, Pam was a commercial real estate paralegal for 32 years and spent her last 10 years working for Trammel Crow Company. After she left Trammel Crow Company, she consulted for various law firms across the country until Katie got involved in horseback riding, when Pam retired to become a full-time mom.

“We spent many hours during the week and especially on weekends at riding lessons and horse show competitions, and I fell in love with horses and began working with several rescue horses and taking classes on communicating with horses,” Pam said. “There’s something incredibly special about being around a horse and learning how to develop a trusting relationship with such a magnificent animal. These were some of my favorite times!”

With being fully immersed in the Lent season, Pam reflects on her religious experiences. She has given up some of the “usual” things, like chocolate and caffeine, but that didn’t feel very “special” to her. After hearing a sermon on Christ giving Himself so deeply and completely, her focus shifted.

“My focus during Lent changed from ‘giving up’ to ‘immersing myself’ in all that Christ taught and modeled. Especially during Lent, I try to ‘give myself over’ to Him, to really reflect on who Christ wants me to be in Him,” Pam said. “My experiences as a Stephen Minister have taught me a lot about sacrificing my time and getting out of my comfort zone in order to really serve another person in desperate need of unconditional and non-judgmental love, support and care.”

Pam also teaches the Finding Our Way Sunday School class, and has been a part of Chancel Choir for a little over 17 years. She loves the feeling of being part of a family, especially since all of her family is spread out around the country.

“I’ve developed many beautiful friendships and precious memories. I love singing, being challenged by Tim with new and different types of music, and reaching out to the congregation through music to glorify God,” Pam said.  “I feel very blessed to have that special gift and the opportunities it brings.”

How are you inspiring others to “immerse themselves” in Christ’s model of love and mercy this Lent season?

Submitted by Kara Shrum
March 29, 2017

“Genesis,” one of Janell Wimberly’s calligraphic masterpieces.
She said this is one of her favorites and it was exhibited a few years ago.





Janell Wimberly, a super Soprano, and section leader, was born on July 29 in Salem Oregon with one brother. She has been married for 35 years and she advises married couples to “always remember: he’s your best friend first and foremost, don’t make money an issue and trust in God.”

In remembering her favorite trips, she enjoyed her journey to England, Ireland and Scotland in 1989. She went to England with a friend to take a calligraphy seminar workshop for seven days and traveled around to other places, enjoying the people and sites.

Some people have the gift of using the concept of art and color to create a message even more powerful than words can express. Janell described calligraphy as it started as a hobby, but kept getting bigger and bigger (literally). She has created pieces for large corporations as well as individuals, nonprofits and herself for exhibits and contests.

“I enjoy calligraphy because of all the new techniques, tools and ideas my contemporaries come up with and scribes are the most ‘sharing’ of artists,” Janell said. “When I see things in nature that have a calligraphic base, I like to see if I can imitate something of the natural quality of calligraphy. Knowing that calligraphy is a specialty, no one executes the same hand identically, which makes scribing so unique compared to fonts on a computer.”

Designing and executing “antique” maps for one of her clients producing biblically based videos has been one of Janell’s most challenging and rewarding projects.

With the Lent season upon us, Janell said she has tried giving something up for 40 days, but it usually fails or she feels it is a “duty” instead of a blessing.

“It seems better to make a pledge or vow to try to do something for someone else or change the way I look at situations that includes patience, kindness, peace and other attributes that Jesus Christ possesses,” Janell said.

Janell started going to Custer Road after a friend told her about Tim Morrison and made a point of introducing them one Sunday.

“I love my choir family. We all care about each other and look to support and pray for all in need and strive as a group to help others as well,” Janell said. “From sharing ourselves and lives in Rome to the Sing and Serve tours to all of our Easter, Christmas and Good Friday services and singing in small groups, it’s better than being a member of a heavy metal band!”

Rock on, Chancel Choir!

Submitted by Kara Shrum
March 8, 2017

Blessing of the Animals in 2015 with Connie Ager, Rev. Sharon O’Connor, and Jimmy Ager




Connie Ager, an awesome Alto, born in Dennison, Ohio, wanted to be a band director when she grew up.  Connie graduated from Kent State University with a BA in Business Administration after attending night school for eight years.  Before retiring, she worked for Dell in Human Resources. Connie currently volunteers in helping Virginia Compton at Custer Road UMC with the Shelby church attendance system and running data reports.

Living the retired life, Connie loves spending time with her cute miniature dachshund, Jimmy. “He senses my moods and if I’m not feeling well, will lay down with me and snuggle to help me feel better,” she said. “Dogs give unconditional love and ask very little in return. He needs his kibbles, a few tasty treats, walks twice a day and a lap. Life is simple but good!”

Her favorite place for traveling is Ireland. With Irish descent, Connie feels like she is at home there. She is planning her next trip in mid-May back to Kinsale, a small village in County Cork southeast of Cork. She will attend the Methodist church in the area (where John Wesley visited a couple of times) and rekindle friendships she made in 2014.

Connie carries a great phrase she heard on a recent cruise, “Don’t be a tourist; be a visitor”, and applies it to every journey she takes.

“A visitor wants to meet people, eat the food and experience the country and culture. A tourist goes back onboard the ship for lunch!” Food for thought: What if we all approached walking through the choir room doors in the same way – being open to talking to people (regardless of the section) and experience “the love in the room?”

Connie joined Custer Road UMC in 2009, when she thought the Chancel Choir was so good that it must require auditions. With the season of Lent upon us, Connie says she tries to be more kind and thoughtful during Lent, showing love for others. Her favorite scripture is the Beatitudes because “the verses have special meaning when you are going through a difficult time.” Looking through the hymnal, Connie’s favorite hymn is “Let Us Break Bread Together” because she loves Communion and the beautiful music, especially the echoing Alto line.

Submitted by Kara Shrum
March 2, 2017