Monday, August 22, 2016

#47 SWEET COMFORT by Sweet Comfort (1977)

SWEET COMFORT by Sweet Comfort (1977)
Maranatha! Music - HS-033
Jeff White is one of my very best friends. He was my pastor for a number of years and we share a deep love for classic CCM. As a younger man, Jeff often sang, played bass, and produced albums for Southern Gospel groups here in Upstate South Carolina. One of the groups that he produced needed a fill-in singer for a ministry trip to North Carolina, so they asked Jeff to hit the road with them that particular weekend in 1999. After a Saturday night concert at the small Assembly of God church, Jeff and the rest of the group were invited to have dinner in the home of one of the church members. They were told that the church’s pastor and his wife would be there as well. After enjoying a meal, Jeff struck up a conversation with the pastor’s wife, just talking about music and ministry.

She told Jeff, “My son sings Christian music, too, but you probably wouldn’t like his style.”

Bryan Duncan's mom Barbara
“Who is your son?” Jeff asked.

“His name is Bryan,” she replied.

Well, Jeff knew that the pastor and his wife had the last name of Duncan…and he began to connect the dots.

“Your son is Bryan Duncan?” he asked, smiling.

“Yes,” she responded.

“Ma’am, you have no idea,” Jeff excitedly related. “I know exactly who your son is, and I love his music!”

After church the next morning, the group members were invited to the home of Pastors Daniel and Barbara Duncan, at which time Barbara proudly presented Jeff with four CDs – two Sweet Comfort Band discs and two from Bryan Duncan’s solo career!


The Duncan family (Bryan's on the far left)
Bryan Duncan and I share a similar background and heritage, both of us first-borns that grew up deeply immersed in Pentecostal culture in the deep south. Our dads were both pastors in the Assemblies of God, a denomination with a strong emphasis on personal holiness and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the 60s and 70s, the ladies wore their hair long and piled high, and you almost never saw them in pants, shorts, makeup or jewelry. Worldly amusements were frowned upon (we never went to a bowling alley when I was young and I didn’t see a movie in a theater until I was 19 years old). We consumed way too much fried chicken at church dinners. At summer camp, boys and girls were not allowed to swim together. At church, the preachin’ was loud and the shoutin’ was raucous. People were literally healed of various physical ailments, they danced in the Spirit, and they spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. From time to time, people were delivered from demonic possession. The music that was popular in A/G churches was a mixture of country hymns and Southern Gospel.

I rolled with it all quite well; Bryan Duncan’s experience was a little more complicated. You might say that Duncan has been a recovering preacher’s kid for about four decades.

Rev. Daniel R. Duncan
"Raised in a Pentecostal church, we were kind of lower middle class back then, and church was like going to the circus," Bryan told Chris Willman in a 1991 interview with Crossrhythms. "I've been insecure for a lot of years. But that's because I was doing what was expected of me as a good preacher's boy. I don't know where all the pressure comes from.”
“My dad never lived in the same town for long,” he continued, “so you couldn't really get a feeling of resentment toward people in the church, because you didn't know 'em, for crying out loud. But that started to bother me. I started to ask questions about relationships. I'm so dang shallow that I don't know people very well. I don't even know my immediate family very well. I started to get irritated by the fact that I can be real personal with a thousand people and not know what to say to somebody that I've known for five years. Because the shallow stuff doesn't work in a relationship with somebody you've known. I think I had enough in the Sweet Comfort Band days - enough of ‘raise the banner, hold the standard high’ and in the meantime your personal life is shot to hell because you're on the road all the time. You don't have a real life, you don't have a social life, you don't know anybody personally - but you know the Gospel, by dog. And you can travel the world and tell everybody about Jesus. But you don't know how to interact with your wife."
Wow.
Like any good first-born PK, the somewhat socially maladjusted Bryan headed off to Bible college after high school. For Assembly of God kids in the south, that meant Southeastern Bible College (now Southeastern University) in Lakeland, Florida.
It didn’t last.
I remember being told many years ago by some A/G buddies in North Carolina that Bryan Duncan was so cool he got kicked out of Bible college! There’s an urban legend that he was expelled for running girls’ underwear up the school flagpole. Turns out that wasn’t the case…but it also wasn’t very far from the truth. I recently had an opportunity to interview Bryan for this post and got the scoop from the man himself.
“Wow! That story from college gets worse every year!” he said. “Actually, there were several violations. I was running around the dorm in a woman’s bra with water balloons in it, first of all. I also organized a raid on the girls’ dorms. They said it was a ‘panty raid’ but I never used the word ‘panty’ ever! And by the way, we were beaten back severely by girls throwing books!”
Duncan went to Lakeland to study to be a missionary, but he just didn’t fit in at Southeastern. "They had an honor point system,” Bryan explains. “It seemed kind of juvenile for a college. You had 10 honor points, and they were taken away from you for various misdemeanors. I LOST 25 honor points!" The points (and his long hair) effectively ended his missions career before it ever got started. "I exchanged my missionary zeal for a music mission," Duncan says. "In a lot of ways I still am a missionary. I'm a lot better with songs than with sermons."

About this same time, there was a bright light shining in the state of California, drawing kids from all over the country. It was dubbed the Jesus Movement. Bryan Duncan packed up his belongings and moved clear across the country, in part to get away from the pressure and limitations of his strict upbringing, but also hoping to become part of this new thing God was doing in Southern California.

Bryan Duncan picks up the story: “I was singing by myself, at the piano, back in the days of Calvary Chapel and the ‘big tent.’ I would play a Monday night Bible study to a crowd of about 1,500 back then. A bass player named Kevin Thomson heard me one night and came to my dorm room at Vanguard University to ask if I’d like to have bass and drums behind me. He just happened to have a brother [Rick] who played drums. So we met in Riverside, CA, in Rick’s living room, and we sounded way better than I did alone! That was the beginning of a 3-year, 3-piece version of Sweet Comfort.

The group was missing an important puzzle piece…but not for long.

“A guitarist named Randy Thomas was in a band in a neighboring city where we played,” Duncan continues. “Kevin asked him to sit in with us at a rehearsal. He added instant harmonies and a soaring melodic lead. We were all impressed. Of course, he says he never agreed to join the band!”

And just like that, “one of the most musically original and proficient groups to come out of the Jesus Movement” became a viable unit (at least that’s how they were described by author and CCM historian Mark Allen Powell). A foursome had thus been established that would remain intact throughout the entire lifespan of the group (which was actually quite unusual). They chose the name Sweet Comfort.

I asked Bryan Duncan about the group’s early association with Maranatha Records. “Well, Maranatha was really the only label covering the bands that were playing out of Calvary Chapel,” he answered. “I don’t think we had another option back then! They agreed to put our debut record on their roster but frankly, we were more jazz-rock than the usual country/folk/rock that their other bands were playing. I don’t think they ever considered us to be a standout property. But the association was the jumpstart we needed.”


My family was on the road in ministry during the late 70s; we made several stops at a prominent Assembly of God church in Concord, North Carolina. First Assembly in Concord had an infamous youth pastor in those days by the name of Noel “Butch” Cookman. During one of our visits, Butch tossed us an album cover and said, “You guys have got to hear this. You’ll love it.” The record jacket featured four photos of the individual band members, and is often remembered by musicians for the white Peavey microphones in the pictures. We quickly pulled the album from the sleeve, put it on the nearest turntable, and instantly fell in love. We later learned that Noel Cookman and Bryan Duncan go way back (as they say in the south), and are still friends today. My brothers and I have also maintained a friendship with the inestimable Mr. Cookman, mostly via social media these days. He was always our favorite youth pastor during our time on the road, and we will always be grateful to him for introducing us to a band called Sweet Comfort.

But I digress.

Let’s talk about this record.

It was a self-titled release, back before the word ‘Band’ was added to the group’s name. Jazz, funk, R&B and smooth ‘70s rock came pouring from the grooves of this record. It’s been said that few bands had the musicianship displayed by Sweet Comfort. Another difference, noted by blogger David Lowman, is that they were substantially less preachy than most of the other Maranatha groups of the time period.

Reviewer Ken Scott has called the group “fairly competent funksters.” He writes that on this debut record, the band “serves up winners, with soulful lead vocalist Bryan Duncan be-boppin’ his way through peppy melodic grooves, mid-tempo funky things, and slow smooth lounge crooners.”

I had a chance to ask Bryan Duncan about how the group approached the recording process on this first album. “We’d never recorded before,” Duncan said. “Our understanding was that we would rehearse until the songs were flawless, run it down once in the studio, all together, and tape the whole thing at the same time! I’m laughing even now at our naiveté!”

Duncan says the best thing to come out of the recording process was working with Tommy Coomes of Love Song. “He taught us about song structure,” Bryan remembers. “He had a stop watch and he’d say, ‘You should be at the hook in 30 seconds!’ Before that, I was just a shotgun screamin’ machine. Never thought about what should come first.”

The opening moments of It’s So Fine (Soul Tune Boogie) serve notice that this is not going to be a typical cowboy country Maranatha offering. No, this record has an actual horn section…a funky attitude...and it’s sung and played not only with excellence, but also with an exuberance that borders on pure joy. Duncan’s soulful, expressive vocals are immediately noticeable, as is Thomas’ tasty guitar work. The word ‘boogie’ in the song title should’ve been a dead giveaway. Reviewer Ken Scott called It’s So Fine a “brassy funk mover” while Mark Allan Powell said it was “powerful.”




Duncan’s Fender Rhodes electric piano leads into Ryan’s Song, a ballad with an instrumental section that reminds me a lot of the theme from the TV show Charlie’s Angels (which was hugely popular at the time this record was recorded…perhaps the boys were big fans of Jaclyn, Kate and Farrah?). If I’m guessing right, Rick Thomson sang lead on this track. It’s a song that put forth sort of a “soft sell” Gospel message, using real-life stories and situations from the lives of ordinary people – a tactic that would become a staple with this band throughout their career.

Next up was Childish Things, a fun, up-tempo track that blogger David Lowman calls the closest thing to a huge Christian radio hit (had there been CCM radio at the time). The song was based quite directly on Paul’s writings in I Corinthians 13:11.

When I was a child
I understood just like a child
Now that I am able
I'm gonna lay it on the table
When I became a man
I began to understand
I stopped acting like a baby
I'm gonna lay down, lay down
Childish things

Oh, let me lay it down
And keep on gettin' stronger
Let me lay it down
I don't need them any longer
Childish things


Childish Things gave the horn section a rest but featured a tasteful guitar solo from Randy Thomas. It was followed by a funky gem called Let It Go. This one actually was a little “preachy”…but Duncan’s playful yet powerful vocal helped the medicine go down smoothly:

Well, the grass looks greener on the other side
So you jumped them fences ‘till you almost died
But you still can't find it though you know you tried
And you ain't got time to be free

You spent your money 'fore you got it made
But it ain't so funny when the bills ain't paid
You keep on tryin' for that one more thing
And you ain't got time to be free

Let it go, let it go, Spirit move me
Let it flow, right now

The brass is back on this track, and Duncan’s keyboard work shines as well. As usual, the song is supported by a strong foundation of the Thomson brothers on bass and drums.

When I asked Bryan Duncan about his favorite songs from this project, he replied, “I favored the funky stuff more than the rest of the band did. My favorites were It’s So Fine and
Let It Go.”

Side One of Sweet Comfort concludes with Your Life, a short, evangelistic ballad featuring what sounds like a flugelhorn, Duncan’s emotive vocals, and some rich, impressive harmonies. Although the song is a direct invitation for the listener to accept Christ, it’s delivered with a) empathy for whatever struggles and difficulties the listener has experienced and b) language that is attractive, not off-putting.

All your life, you’ve always stood alone
Never needing anybody to show you how to live
But now your life is changing
And the Spirit says it’s time
And you hear the Father saying
“Won’t you live your life in Mine?”

You’ve had a lot of hard times
You’ve reaped a lot of pain
Felt a lot of sorrow
As you lived your life in vain
But now your life is changing
As the Spirit says it’s time
And you hear the Father saying
“Won’t you live your life in Mine?”

Your Life was the type of ballad that would become a hallmark of this group.

The Sweet Comfort album had a very bright, clean, crisp sound, thanks to the production of Tommy Coomes and a young Jonathan David Brown. The album also benefitted from the engineering talents of Brown and Jack Joseph Puig. Puig rose to prominence as a CCM producer and engineer and eventually won Grammys working with the likes of U2, Black Crowes, Goo Goo Dolls, Rolling Stones, Black Eyed Peas, Eric Clapton and many more.

Art direction for the album cover was credited to Neal Buchanan, while Greg Laurie (!) was in charge of graphics and design. Ray Westbrook took the photos and the late, great Rick Griffin designed the band’s logo.

“It was exciting seeing that album cover for the first time,” Bryan Duncan remembers. “The artwork was done by Greg Laurie, and I thought we had arrived. There was much to be learned in the following year about promoting and marketing a record. We would learn that recording the album is really just the beginning!”

Side Two begins with one of the album’s standout tracks. The bluesy Somebody Loves You is the one song from this album that Bryan Duncan says he still plays today. The track begins with Bryan’s voice and his Fender Rhodes…

Lord, it’s so good to know that somebody loves you
You know it’s so fine to know that somebody’s there
Lord, it’s so good to share your feelings with someone
Who knows how you feel and knows how to care

Somebody loves you
Somebody cares

Duncan turns in an excellent performance on electric piano and organ, reminding us of how underrated he has always been as a keyboardist. That is due mostly to the fact that his powerful voice is so dominant, one tends to simply overlook his instrumental prowess. But it’s there…and Somebody Loves You is an excellent reminder.

In his Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, author Mark Allan Powell says Somebody Loves You is the album’s best known song (Get Ready would have something to say about that) and that it “personalizes the message of the Gospel in a straightforward way.”




The next track, His Name Is Whispered, continues this tack of sharing the Gospel in a way that is attractive…positive…compelling. This would be one of the great strengths of the Sweet Comfort Band for years to come. Consider these lyrics:

His name is whispered on a soft and gentle breeze
He can paint a thousand pictures with a word
(I want you to feel) the touch of His compassion
Sets a restless mind at ease
Then He tells me of His deepest love for you

You’ve never known Him, He loved you from afar
That’s just His way, He loves you as you are
Man of mysteries, Man of strength
Man of power, Prince of peace

Kevin Thomson
It’s just a beautiful and accurate description of God’s love and grace…of the character and attributes of the Lord. Randy Thomas handles the lead vocal on this one; Kevin Thomson’s bass playing was particularly impressive here.

It’s often been said that the Sweet Comfort Band displayed a level of musicianship that set them apart from a lot of the other bands of their day. The next track, God’s Got a Plan, was a great example of that. It also happened to be the song that drifted the farthest toward true jazz. Sounds like the guys were having a lot of fun in the studio recording this one.

No album from the Jesus Movement era would be complete without a song about the Second Coming of Jesus. Get Ready filled that bill quite nicely and ended up being the record’s most memorable track. Quick: how many studio-recorded CCM songs can you name with a drum solo during the song? One or two? I’ve got Woman, Don’t You Know by Petra and this song by Sweet Comfort. There may be more, but those are the only two I recall off the top of my head. Rick Thomson turns in a very memorable performance and Bryan Duncan sings his heart out on this one.

“We were a loud, rockin’ band, so of course I loved the up-tempo, screaming stuff,” Bryan Duncan told me. “Get Ready was already an anthem at our concerts. It was a flat-out jam session on stage that went on for ten minutes. It was sad trying to cut it down to song length for the record. One thing’s for sure, an album seldom brings the energy of a live concert. To me, it felt like a miniature version of us.”

Randy Thomas showed us his rock chops on Get Ready, and the song featured some nice acapella vocal harmonies coming out of the drum solo.




Sweet Comfort concluded with a beautiful ballad titled When I Was Alone. Blogger David Lowman called it a “worship classic long before the invention of modern worship music.” Bryan Duncan told me that it might’ve made the biggest impact of any song on the record.

It was a pure, simple expression of love and devotion to the Lord. The album ends with the guys singing in three-part harmony…

Jesus, I love You
Jesus, I love You…

CCM historian Ken Scott describes Sweet Comfort thusly: “Good guitar licks, catchy arrangements, slick layered harmonies, infectious song-writing, joyful spirited presentation.” I concur.

According to Bryan Duncan, the band had to raise most of the money needed to record the album. “It sold 10,000 copies in the first three days,” he recalls. “I never did know what the sales figures were after that. It was enough to get the attention of a bigger label! But somehow, keeping up with the numbers was considered ‘unspiritual’ and the record company kept us mostly in the dark on specifics. We had a lot to learn.”



Looking back, Duncan remembers the early Sweet Comfort days fondly. “The Jesus Movement was in full swing,” he says, “and we were riding that wave of euphoria in Southern California. Calvary Chapel was pretty good at making sure we didn’t think too highly of ourselves. That would be considered ‘ungodly.’ But we played every kind of gig you can think of – school lunchtime concerts, parks, prisons, even a few churches. We gave altar calls and people would come forward…lots of people!”




After Sweet Comfort, the long-haired quartet with an affinity for jazz-rock was on to bigger and better things. Their sophomore release was a huge step forward (something tells me we’ll be discussing it later in this countdown), and they released two albums of nearly perfect arena rock in the early 1980s. Hearts of Fire and Cutting Edge were stunning projects from start to finish. They rivaled anything heard on rock radio in that day, and are still amazingly pleasurable to listen to today.




In 1984, SCB released Perfect Timing – an album that was just a little too Elephante and not quite enough SCB. Meaning, simply, that it took on too much of the sound and personality of its producer, Dino Elephante, forsaking some of the nuanced elements that had always made SCB so special. Don’t get me wrong – it was still a great record with some very powerful and memorable songs. But by this time tensions and fissures were putting too much pressure on the band members and their families. Sadly, it was time for the Sweet Comfort Band to call it quits. If awards and industry recognition are the measuring stick, then SCB definitely didn’t get their due. But they will long be remembered as one of the most exciting, dynamic and creative bands around…in any genre of music.

When the band broke apart, Randy Thomas and Bryan Duncan both landed on their feet.


ALLIES (Randy Thomas is 2nd from right)


Thomas formed a muscular pop/rock band called Allies with another great singer, Bob Carlisle. Thomas and Carlisle also formed a successful songwriting partnership that continued to pay the bills long after Allies had folded.


Bryan Duncan
Bryan Duncan enjoyed a successful solo career that continues to this day. God gave him a unique, powerful set of pipes and he’s used them to win awards, garner tons of radio airplay and change people’s lives. He has been very transparent regarding a battle with addiction that put him in rehab, and that he eventually overcame. He now helps others to do the same and continues to travel, singing his songs to audiences ranging from church services to house concerts. Visit bryanduncan.com to learn more.

Rick Thomson built a recording studio and continued to write songs and produce albums before switching gears and plunging headlong into the construction business. He made a living as a General Contractor, running a successful construction business for three decades.

Kevin Thomson is described as carrying the weight of SCB on his shoulders throughout the life of the band. He dazzled audiences with bass solos, did the “preaching” at the end of the group’s concerts, and handled everything from booking to sound systems to transportation. Not as much is known about what Kevin Thomson did post-Sweet Comfort. But in 2006 he suffered a serious fall that resulted in quadriplegia. He passed away just four years later.

Sweet Comfort Band has reunited a few times over the years – at the Cornerstone Festival, at Kevin’s memorial service, at a “Jesus People Reunion” in Costa Mesa in 2015, among others. All of which led the group to finally record again after all those years. You can pick up a copy of that album, The Waiting Is Over, at the band’s website: officialsweetcomfortband.com


Sweet Comfort Band reunited for the "Jesus People Reunion" in 2015 


L-R: Rick Thomson, Bryan Duncan, Randy Thomas


I mentioned, briefly, Bryan Duncan’s bout with addiction. Going through rehab for some type of addiction or substance abuse is fairly common these days. But what about Bryan’s recovery from being that A/G preacher’s kid back in North Carolina? Where do you go to get over that? Was he ever able to make peace with those ghosts from his Pentecostal PK past?

“When I was growing up, I was handed all the answers before I had any of the questions,” Bryan said. “You know what that leads to? You don’t really know how to work the problems. I am a misfit for the Church. I always have been. But that makes me perfect for it!”

Well said.

“I think my faith is stronger than it’s ever been,” Duncan said in a 2008 interview with a Prescott, Arizona newspaper. “It’s that whole concept that the unexamined life is not worth living. Redemption is a process and I think salvation is a process. It’s not just a one-time, sign on the dotted line, and now let’s all go to church. We all have a will of our own and God respects us and loves us enough to let us choose.”

Amen, brother. Praise the Lord and pass the water balloons. 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Remembering RON SALSBURY

After a long bout with cancer, Pastor and Jesus Music pioneer Ron Salsbury has finished his race and is finally Home. A memorial service will be held on Saturday August 20, 2016 at 11 A.M. at the church that he pastored, New Life Community Church in Pismo Beach, CA, to celebrate the life and ministry of "Pastor Ron."

He went to be with the Lord on Sunday morning, July 31st, at about 5:10 am. He died peacefully surrounded by his family. The church that he pastored, New Life Community Church in Pismo Beach, CA, shared this sentiment on the church website: 

We cannot imagine the countless numbers who welcomed him into the presence of Jesus with the words, “I am here because of you!”





As the Sixties ended and the Seventies began, Ron Salsbury was the lead singer of a somewhat successful rock and roll band in Hollywood, California. But Ron had also surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and was looking for a way to share his newfound Christian faith with his generation. So he started a band called JC Power Outlet with his friend John Pantano in the fall of 1970. 






JC Power Outlet released 2 albums on Myrrh Records – a self-titled album in 1972 and the classic Forgiven in 1974 – and traveled all over the United States and Canada for a period of about seven years. They played just about anywhere they could plug in their amps: prisons, churches, colleges, coffeehouses, city parks and music festivals. 





In 1977, Ron and John joined Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records as a duo and recorded Hit the Switch, an album that is remembered quite fondly. By the way, the choir in Heaven is gaining quite a bit of rock and roll street cred as more and more former members of the Solid Rock family graduate to Glory. Mark Heard, Larry Norman, Tom Howard, Jon Linn and now Ron Salsbury have all reunited on the other side.











Once the touring days came to an end, Ron Salsbury became an Associate Pastor and Worship Leader. Then he went back to school, graduating from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1986. For a number of years, Ron was a cancer survivor and served as Lead Pastor of New Life Community Church in Pismo Beach, CA (a Church of the Nazarene congregation). According to his website, Ron communicated the Gospel with humor and passion, demonstrating to his congregation that “God is really in love with each one of us and that there is a hope in every one of God’s promises.” Even with cancer, Ron continued to live, preach, and sometimes sing and play guitar, with as much passion for Jesus as ever. 


He even released a CD project within the past year titled Then and Now. The concept was unique: a collection of some brand new recordings along with some previously recorded songs that had been digitally “cleaned up,” and some rare concert performances from days gone by that had also been digitally enhanced with new instruments added. I received a copy in the mail from Ron himself, something that I will always cherish. [Go ahead and order your own copy of Then and Now. It’s easy enough to obtain. Just go to ronsalsbury.com. The project is also available at iTunes, amazon and cdbaby.] In our email correspondence, Pastor Ron said, "I tried my best to make contact and get permission from Word and Solid Rock, but finally just gave up and did it!  Nobody responded or seemed to care, so I copyrighted and published all the songs and will deal with any issues that may arise."





He also gave me a behind-the-scenes story about the classic song I Choose To Follow by JC Power Outlet:

"We had turned the tape machine (remember tape?) down a half step to record a guitar effect, and the engineer forgot and I recorded the lead vocal to I Choose to Follow You.  We realized what happened in the mix, but Word would not let me fix the problem (over budget) and I’ve had to live with a slight 'chipmunk' effect on the vocal for 40 years!  On Then and Now, we were able to fix it digitally (change pitch without changing tempo...amazing!) and I finally have it in its original form!  I thought you’d like this story."

It blesses me that several "Jesus Music pioneers" remained true to their calling and even ended up serving the Body of Christ as Pastors after their music was placed on the back burner. Ron Salsbury, Alwyn Wall, Malcolm Wild, Oden Fong, Richie Furay, the late Dana Key, and others. I'm sure their congregations were grateful for their ministries. And I am personally thankful for the positive influence Ron Salsbury had on my life, both musically and spiritually. I know that many of you are as well. 

In closing, it's well worth noting that singer-songwriter Bob Bennett, certainly no stranger to most of the readers of this blog, was called in to sing at Pastor Ron's bedside just hours before his homegoing. Pastor Ron was at home with hospice care, taking what Bob Bennett described as "his final walk to the edge of this earthly life." When it was announced that Ron Salsbury had passed away a few short days later, Bob Bennett had this to say: 


As our Gracious Lord welcomes this dear servant into His presence, may He also comfort Cathi and the Family as well as the thousands in the Congregation at New Life Community Church in Pismo Beach who are saddened by this loss.
He was (and, of course, still is) a good and faithful man who is now face-to-Face with Jesus our Blessed Savior.