On Sunday, Dennis Jernigan will step into Lake Center Baptist Church, on Monkey Island, with one goal in mind.
Providing a time of praise and worship to a community, regardless of labels and beliefs.
Jernigan, an internationally-known Christian recording artist who resides in Muskogee, will perform in a worship/concert setting at 10 a.m., on Sunday, Sept. 3, at the church.
It will be his first visit to the Grand Lake area and to the church his nephew, Caleb, pastors.
"I'm so proud of him, and what he's done," Jernigan said. "He's a great worship leader and songwriter as well."
Jernigan said the service will simply focus on being "in the Lord's presence."
"We can lay feelings aside, and have a chance to worship him," Jernigan said, adding the service will include a mixture of his familiar tunes as well as songs from his newest release First Love.
Jernigan said a component of his services always includes a time, when people are encouraged to pray for others in the room who may be going through a time of sorrow, grief, brokenness or simply be in need of healing.
"I believe if you led people to Jesus, they will worship," Jernigan said. "God's presence will be there and I'll deal with it."
Jernigan said he hopes people leave the service knowing and feeling that "nothing is impossible," with God, as well as insights of freedom in Christ.
More about Jernigan
Jernigan said he will share parts of his testimony, which includes being released from a homosexual lifestyle, marriage to his wife, Melinda, and their nine children.
It will also weave in stories about his father, who at the time of the interview, was in the last stages of life. His father died in the early morning hours of Thursday, Aug. 31.
One story, Jernigan said he will share, involves his father and how he showed he loved his son, even without saying the words.
"My dad never told me he loved me [until adulthood]," Jernigan said. "One time I asked him, 'why did you never say the words?'
"He told me, his father had never told him, and he didn't know how to tell me."
Jernigan said his father's love, however, could be found in his support, presence and protection.
In one instance, Jernigan recounts how as a young child, he dreamed of having a baseball goal of his own.
His father, knowing finances were tight, encouraged him to "plant a basketball seed" and then water it faithfully, until it would grow.
Jernigan said overtime, the goal "sprouted" first with a three-foot section of green pipe, then another. By the Jernigan's birthday arrived, he awoke to find the "seed" had blossomed into a white backboard, with white net and orange rim.
A brand new basketball sat at the foot of the goal, Jernigan said, like an apple fallen from the tree.
"That was my dad," Jernigan said. "He laid down his own life for me."
Jernigan has recounted the tale in a new children's book, which is expected to hit stores in the next few months. Knowing Jernigan's father was dying, his publisher Inovo, worked with him to obtain a galley copy - so it could be shared with his dad.
"I told him 'daddy, your legacy lives on. Millions of kids will know what you did,'" Jernigan said. "He seemed really proud."
New chapter in life
With the help of his son, Ezra, Jernigan went back into the studio to record 19 of his songs - 10 of his most popular, and six brand new songs.
It was, as Jernigan described it, simply himself and the piano in the studio, singing praises.
Of those 19 songs, 16 appear on the new album.
Jernigan has also written a new memoir of sorts, Renewing Your Mind: Identity and the Matter of Choice, in which he talks about how he used two Biblical verses, Proverbs 23:7 and Romans 12:2, to help replace the lies spoken to him through a variety of sources, with God's truth.
"We always have a choice on how to respond to the life altering, transformative message of truth," Jernigan said. "It's a message of freedom."
Jernigan said his newest book talks about the process he took, as God brought him to a moment of freedom and restoration.
"I want people to know that freedom is possible," Jernigan said.
If You Go
Dennis Jernigan will be in concert at 10 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 3, at Lake Center Baptist Church.
The event is designed as a community-wide praise and worship celebration. It’s free and open to the public. A love offering will be taken to defy expenses.
The church is located at 29020 South Highway 125, on the edge of Monkey Island. For more information, persons interested may contact 918-257-5202, firstname.lastname@example.org or http://lakecenter.church.
Did You Know?
Caleb Jernigan is just one of several of the next generation of Jernigans to follow Dennis Jernigan's footsteps into the ministry. In fact, he said, all nine of his children have some form of musical talents.
Jernigan's daughter, Galen, is on staff as a worship leader and musician at a church in Owasso, while her siblings, Asa and Hannah, have been a part of the Hillsong Leadership College in New South Wales, Australia.
His son, Ezra served as the music producer on his newest release, First Love.
Young adult author
In addition to his other works, Dennis Jernigan has authored a series called the Chronicles of Bren.
The series is an allegory to the life and focuses on a young boy, who lives in northeast Oklahoma.
Bullied and teased, one day Lee Jennings starts running and falls into another realm, where he discovers he is a prince - the son of the king.
Jernigan said the books are written to inspire students to see that there is more to life, than what they may be aware.
In the first book, Captured, Lee embarks on a journey of self-discovery which will help him as he grows into adulthood.
In the second, Sacrifice, Lee, now a teenager, is once again transported to Bren, where he discovers he is now the king. Led by the benevolent creature called the Voice, Lee, now King Leonolis, discovers the sacrifices that so many have made so he could rule.
In the third book, Generations, King Leonolis and Queen Abila experience life through the lives of their nine children, as they discover their gifts and talents through a journey filled with wild adventure.
A new series, still in process known as the Bairn of Bren will focus on adventures inspired by Jernigan's grandchildren.
"Even if the books are just read by my children and grandchildren, I want to leave a legacy for them," Jernigan said. "I want my story to go on long after I go."