Some say Springfield is a big city and a small town all rolled into one. Everywhere you go there is a connection – this is definitely true within the music circles around town.
It is these very connections that brought Cheryll Moll and Barth Fraker to Schweitzer Church a few years ago. Robert McDowell, who served as the minister of music and education, heard there was a great young organist who might be willing to help out Schweitzer. He invited her to join the team in 1984. “She would play for the early mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church, then come over for our services,” Robert said. The organ Cheryll played then, was located in the “old Sanctuary” also known as the place where our Fellowship Center is today.
A year later, Barth Fraker, a recent high school graduate, joined the team as a pianist for Schweitzer’s kids and youth choirs and filled in during Cheryll’s maternity leave. Interestingly, Cheryll had met Barth a few years before at Marshfield High when viewing a play directed by her sister-in-law. Cheryll and Barth served in harmony from 1985 on, with Barth pursuing other opportunities, including touring with groups like Women of Faith, supporting area churches, and even stepping in for seven years as Schweitzer’s Director of Music (after an invitation call from Cheryll).
Cheryll has served at Schweitzer for 39 years. Most of those years she worked as a part-time organist and a full-time music teacher at Cherokee, Pipkin, and Jarrett Middle Schools as well as the Mt. Vernon and Nixa Districts. In 2011 she retired from teaching and stepped in as Schweitzer Director of Traditional Music, overseeing Traditional Worship services, the Schweitzer Choir, Joy Pickers, and Senior Saints. Cheryll’s heart for people and worship music has carried her through many changes – including four senior pastors, six music directors, over 10 associate pastors – and challenges in life. Watch for her interview on the Really Cool People Podcast). She has humbly served alongside many people she admires.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with many prominent and respected musicians who found a home at Schweitzer. These are incredible people who are kind and considerate, and they also like to have fun.” There have been many laughs and crazy stories over the years – some that can’t even be printed. “I’ve laughed so hard that I’ve cried in rehearsals.”
The fun and music will continue as Barth takes on the director role once again at Schweitzer. On May 14, we will celebrate Cheryll’s time of service. While she will take more time for traveling, gardening, and her family, she will continue to help lead Joy Pickers and Senior Saints.
Jenn Brown is the editor of the Schweitzer Spark and serves on staff as the Director of Communications. When she’s not in the office, you can find Jenn out exploring in nature, playing music around town, and working on more writing about various topics including grief, fashionable dogs, and traveling adventures.