When Brannon McCain was 17 years old, he took the money from his summer job and bought his first guitar.
His original intent was to learn how to play the song “Stairway to Heaven.”
He started by teaching himself and then began taking lessons in college. He went to Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., with a music scholarship for voice. He then switched to guitar and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in music, with a focus on classical guitar.
“It brings an overwhelming sense of calm and peace,” McCain said about playing the guitar. “Anytime I’m feeling anxious, overwhelmed or stressed, I just play a classical piece and the troubles of the world just melt away.”
Since 2011, McCain, who lives in Marshall, has been part of the Glocal (global+local) Musicians Group for the ELCA. He said he was working as a music director in the Twin Cities when the pianist, Mikyoung Park, told him about the program.
“She invited me to go to one of these Glocal Mission Gathering events,” McCain said. “At the time, I had no clue what this was all about.” He said he was just a participant at first, and then he felt strongly called to the group and get involved.
McCain attended a training event in Chicago back in 2011 and since then, he has participated in three to four Glocal Musicians Group events a year.
According to information from the ELCA, Glocal Musicians of the ELCA provide the music and worship leadership. They were formed by the Mission Formation Team in the ELCA Global Mission to “provide musical leadership for the Glocal Mission Gatherings hosted by congregations and other Christian communities throughout North American and the Caribbean. Through its intentional diversity – including representation from many countries, denominations and several cultures – the group embodies ways to stand in mutual solidarity while amplifying marginalized voices.”
“The point of these gatherings is to encourage participants to think of mission in a holistic sense,” McCain said.
Instead of the traditional model of mission, the Glocal Mission Gatherings follow the model of accompaniment, the idea where you should walk with someone in solidarity, rather than imposing your ideas on that person.
McCain said the Glocal Musicians Group is mostly singing songs from all over the world, Zimbabwe, Korea, Hong Kong and Puerto Rico.
“We’re encouraging open-mindedness, to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and have empathy,” McCain said.
The Glocal Musicians Group is not there to perform at conventions, McCain said. The group is there to lead worship, teach and encourage participants. McCain has been to events in Excelsior, Rochester, Chicago Ill., Des Moines Iowa, Clive Iowa, Milwaukee Wis., and Covington Ky.
“We have musicians from all over the country, and try to pull from as near to the event as possible, so the events I serve at are all in the Midwest. We have had events in nearly every state, and even a few international events (and we use international musicians fairly regularly as well),” McCain said.
According to information from the ELCA, the musicians are “committed to forming local leaders seeking to introduce global themes in their communities. The songs they teach are grounded in the community stories that raise awareness and inspire advocacy. The musicians embody what it means to be Glocal – simultaneously global and local – so we can accompany one another across cultures, even in our own neighborhoods.”
“We equip people to bring these songs back to their congregations,” McCain said.
The glocal gatherings “connect the present situation in the United States to a global perspective, offering a chance to learn about the countries and culture our new neighbors traveled from,” according to information from the ELCA.
McCain said what he enjoys about being a part of this group is that the musicians have such a high level of energy and passion.
“We all do this work because we believe strongly in its importance,” he said. “I also appreciate interacting with and working with people who are very different from myself – learning their stories and their cultural heritage, and sharing my own. I enjoy learning about what other cultures have to offer to enliven the mosaic of Christian heritage. And I enjoy the opportunity to share what I have to offer with others.”
“My passion lies with teaching and sharing the things that are important to me,” he added.