Transplanted Southern musicians share their journeys in song

By: Brad Rowland

Outside Worship, a group that describes itself as a collective of music makers bound by the love of Jesus and born out of a desire for community in worship leading and songwriter, released a debut album titled “Here to Remember” in late August. The ensemble features a trio of worshipful musicians with ties to The Salvation Army’s USA Southern Territory, even with the caveat that the members currently reside in New York.

“Our families found themselves in Brooklyn, and community came out of that,” said Phil Laeger, a member of the group. “We started meeting for prayer and worship, and God made it clear to us that we needed to start meeting and worshipping regularly. We did that, kept an open mind, and brought song ideas to each other… It was really a God thing. We are just trying to be obedient to God’s leading and we walked to walk through the doors we were given.”

Laeger joins with Marty Mikles and Anna Street in producing the 12-track album, which is now available for distribution on Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms. The album’s title and focus speak to reflection from each contributor, remembering the past, translating it to the future and focusing on God’s faithfulness.

“These songs are really 12 different testimonies of our journey together in faith,” Street said. “It’s an altar and stones of remembrance for us.”

“There are undeniable themes that run through the album,” Mikles said. “One of them is trusting the Lord and celebrating his faithfulness. God is faithful and has been faithful. We’re also trusting that whatever God wants to do in us, he’s going to make a way for us to do it. We just have to trust him.”

The recording process began prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, including one of the larger collective recording sessions just days before quarantine orders arrived in the New York City area. Through the wonder of modern technology, the remainder of the recording, mixing and mastering came together, all while maintaining social distance.

Feedback to the praise-filled music has been strong, with the goal of the group to share their own journeys in helping others join them in pursuing Jesus Christ.

“One of the crazy and cool things that God does, because he loves us, is that he can use our story to connect with others,” Mikles said. “People can see some of what they’re going through in what we’ve gone through, even if not specifically in an identical way.”

“After listening to it again, I’m receiving it all over again and I’ve heard from some people who have listened to it that they are really connecting to the heart of God,” Street said. “My prayer is that there is a lot of healing in all of these songs that we’ve experienced, and you can’t give to anyone what you haven’t received. I love that the body of Christ works that way.”

With the album now available, the group is helping to produce an EP this fall from a different, yet related, outlet titled Outside Worship Leaders and Songwriters (OWLS), focusing on a spirit of collaboration and lifting up others.

“The goal with that is really to amplify the voices of others and connect them together,” Laeger said. “We want to encourage collaboration, and we’re providing support to produce the EP. We’re really excited about it.”

Outside Worship is also accepting worship-leading invitations as restrictions ease around the country, with additional time allocated to online-based worship tools and support. More information can be found at the group’s official website.