SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. The new pastor at the South Salem Presbyterian Church brings a lot to the table.
Reverend Dr. Charles Chip Andrus is not only a pastor, but a professional musician as well. And he has some big ideas for his new church.
Andrus, who hails from Prescott, Ark., officially took over the reins of the church on June 27. It was a hectic couple of days surrounding his arrival. He and his wife, Linda, made the trek from Arkansas to South Salem by car to save the church money.
I rolled into town the Wednesday before the 27th and the Boy Scouts and church members helped us unload our stuff, he said. Then I left to play the Wild Goose Festival - a music, arts and spirituality festival - in North Carolina. I spent 52 hours on the road in less than a week.
The day before he left Arkansas, Andrus played a gig serving as the opening act for the Little River Band, the iconic 70s pop/rock band.
With his hectic music schedule currently behind him, Andrus was ready to take on the business at hand of running his new church.
The people of the church are excited and Im excited, he said.
Andrus said the move from Arkansas to New York was actually a natural progression in his career. His wife was raised in Manhattan and New Jersey and has family throughout the area, including Wappingers Falls, so they were familiar with the region. He also considered a post in Peekskill, but eventually settled on South Salem.
Andrus attended college at Oklahoma State University and Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark. He earned his Doctor of Ministry at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and later taught at the Seminary, as well as the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa. He served as the adjunct professor of worship for the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary until 2006.
He also worked to coordinate initiatives for Presbyterian youths at the Leadership and Vocation Mission Work Plan and served as coordinator and co-editor of African-American Liturgical Resource to explain the history, theology and liturgical practice of African-America Protestants.
As for the musical side of his life, he began playing guitar in seventh grade.
I was hanging out with a family that was playing gospel and bluegrass, he said. They needed a guitar player. We were playing the bluegrass circuit lots of festivals.
Andrus started writing songs in high school and his musical endeavors helped pay his way through college.
I played a lot of blues, folk and rock, he said.
Andrus did his first recording work working with the King Boogie Band in the mid-90s and then released his first solo CD in 2000 called Let it Rain Down. His second CD, Songs for the Liturgy, came out in 2002. His third effort, with his band Chip Andrus and Soul Highway, called The Place Were At, was just released. You can sample some of Andrus music at his website, www.chipandrus.com .
Andrus love the arts is part of what drives his vision for the South Salem Presbyterian Church.
One of the visions I have and the church is embracing this is for this place to be a place for the creative arts as well as for worship and spirituality, he said. Hopefully, the youth and people of all generations can come and engage and experience creating art everything from creative writing to drama, music, and photography whatever it is they want to do.
The new pastor hopes to create a space on the church property where performances and exhibits can take place and urges performers and artists to contact him with their ideas.
Andrus and his wife have a daughter, Danielle, who was recently married. Andrus served double duty at the wedding as father of the bride and minister.
In his free time, he enjoys brewing homemade beer, making wine, writing songs and whitewater river canoeing.
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