Declaration wants to make a statement.
Jake Sammons, one of the founders of the 2-year-old Southern gospel group and a former Toledo radio personality, said that Declaration got its name from scripture, as in “the words of my mouth.” But part of his group’s declaration as Christians giving music ministry is “reaching out beyond the standing on stage and singing. We want to get the people involved in actually doing something greater.”
Mr. Sammons and Declaration will return to northwest Ohio for a week. The group will perform at the Sunday service at Genoa Trinity United Methodist Church at 10:30 a.m., and then head a revival Sunday through Wednesday at Bono Baptist Church in Martin, at 5:30 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s a second-year return to both churches for Declaration.
When Mr. Sammons spoke by phone with The Blade Tuesday, he was celebrating his birthday at home in Nashville. “I’m 42 years old, I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “I have two incredible girls and a wonderful wife.”
He doesn’t like leaving them for a tour, but “it’s a call on my heart; it’s an opportunity for people” to be affected by what Declaration sings and its members preach and the songs he writes.
In return, Declaration gets love and appreciation from audiences and congregations.
“We feel very blessed as Declaration to come back to the area, and the warm welcome we receive,” Mr. Sammons said. “One of the first places that said ‘Yes, come sing,’ was Pastor George [Goodrich] at Bono Baptist Church. It wasn’t too long after that that we went down to the Genoa church and they treated us the same way.”
“What a blessing that group has been. I can’t say enough about what [Mr. Sammons] has done for the fellowship of our church,” Pastor Goodrich said. “When Declaration comes, the spirit of revival is on our people. It’s not that someone has to come and revive our hearts; it’s that they bring a time of refreshing, there’s joy.”
He added that there’s another type of mutual admiration: “Being a loving church, we really go overboard for our banquets and our potlucks, and when Jake comes to church he’s got his eating shoes on.”
Declaration will be leading church Sunday morning at Genoa Trinity, the church’s pastor, Cherl Matla said. “We like their style of music, the Southern gospel, and it’s nice to have Jake back in his home area,” she said.
Southern gospel has particular characteristics.
“The focus is on God,” Mr. Sammons said. “But it’s on more of a human condition and how God relates to that” rather than contemporary Christian music that is centered on divine praise. Southern gospel has “an arc of man up toward God and back again,” Mr. Sammons said.
“What we do is a very small niche compared to the larger scheme of the music world,” Mr. Sammons said. Pop music might try to reach 20 million people, he said, and he compared that to Bill Gaither, who he says is “top of the mountain” in Southern gospel. “Bill is shooting at 10,000, and his tours are very successful.”
Mr. Sammons took a mantra from Mr. Gaither by way of the Booth Brothers, another Southern gospel group which Mr. Sammons used to work for: “Honor God, sing songs and love people. Loving people should actually come from those other two things.”
Mr. Sammons has message and music in his genes. “My great grandfather was a pastor. My grandfather sang in a quartet in Detroit for a number of years. My parents traveled and sang together at various times,” he said. “I literally grew up sleeping in bass drums.”
Mr. Sammons was the morning voice on WPOS 102.3 FM, a Christian radio station in Toledo, from 2005 through 2009. Denise Wylie, host of Light Line, which airs Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on WPOS, said that Mr. Sammons “was a big part” of her show when it started.
“I was nervous about doing the whole hour, so he would do the first 15 minutes with news, and then eventually I was confident enough to do the entire time. He wrote the jingle and put together the image of Light Line,” she said.
Mr. Sammons “has a unique way of speaking that stops the noise,” she said. “I think that gift is utilized in his music and as he reaches out to minister to people through Declaration.”
Reflecting on his time in radio, Mr. Sammons said, “Waking up at 4:30 every morning and being ready to go at 5:30 or 6 was the most challenging part. I loved the people in the area—that was the most satisfying part.”
He loves Toledo because “it’s a blue collar town, and when people see you’re working hard, they stand with you.”
Contact TK Barger at: firstname.lastname@example.org , 419-724-6278 or on Twitter at: @TK_Barger.