Music Ministry

Sanctuary Choir 12-2014 (800x533)Music at First Baptist Greenville is a thriving ministry with an incredible level of talent.

Gifted musicians work with Children’s Choirs for those 3 years old through elementary school. Many students in our youth group not only sing in the choir, but play a variety of instruments. We are fortunate to maintain a strong relationship with Furman University. Furman students sing in the Sanctuary Choir and have additional leadership opportunities through the Herring church music internship and Herring choral scholar program. The Sanctuary Choir is the primary choir for our worship services and usually prepares from four to six music services each year. The Sanctuary Choir has had the honor of performing for national and regional conferences of the American Choral Directors Association. They have sung for the Furman Church Music Conference with guest conductor, Mack Wilberg. They have also traveled to sing in the Riverside Church in New York City, Duke Chapel in Durham, NC, and been invited to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. They have sung major choral and orchestral works including: Handel’s Messiah, Faure Requiem, Brahms Requiem, Rutter Gloria and Magnificat, Pinkham Christmas Cantata, and Pergolesi Magnificat. The Sanctuary Choir is an energetic, dedicated group of people who sing everything from Handel and Mendelssohn to Latin American sambas and jazz. If you want to be part of a community of faith where music is a vital part of our services and youth and children’s ministries, join us in worship and discover the gifts that music can offer us all in our spiritual journeys.

Dr. Vivian Hamilton conducts the Sanctuary Choir and is the primary planner for music in our worship services at First Baptist Greenville. An accomplished pianist as well as vocalist and conductor, Dr. Hamilton also conducts the Furman University Chorale and serves as a collaborative pianist on the music faculty of Furman University. Dr. Hamilton has been a singer in the Robert Shaw Institute Festival Singers where she had the opportunity to work with Robert Shaw and has studied conducting with Dan Lewis and Edvard Tchivzhel. She has worked with choirs at Simmons College, Emerson College, the University of South Carolina, Northeastern University and Clemson University. For twelve years, she conducted the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium Chorale and is a former president of the South Carolina American Choral Directors Association. Her choral conducting experience also includes work at Baptist and Methodist churches in Massachusetts and South Carolina, and in the public schools of Boston and upstate South Carolina. She has worked as a collaborative pianist in Boston, Massachusetts, and throughout South Carolina. She received her doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the University of South Carolina, her masters degree in piano performance from New England Conservatory of Music, and her bachelors degree in music education from Furman University.

imagesDr. Charles Tompkins has served as organist of First Baptist Greenville since 1997, presiding over the largest organ in the state of South Carolina – an instrument of more than 4,000 pipes, built in 1984 by the French-Canadian firm  Casavant Frères, Limitée. An active church musician throughout his professional career, Dr. Tompkins has served as organist or as organist/choirmaster for churches in Washington, DC (his hometown); Rochester, New York; Walled Lake, Michigan; and St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Tompkins is also university organist and professor of music at Furman University, where he has taught since coming to Greenville in 1986. He is a nationally-recognized concert organist and organ teacher and studied at the Eastman School of Music (Bachelor of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Organ Performance) and the University of Michigan (Master of Music in Organ Performance). He performs each year at universities and major churches through the United States. Dr. Tompkins has played recitals at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; and for the Piccolo Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, SC. He has performed as a featured artist at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, Association of Anglican Musicians, Music Teachers National Society, and the College Music Society. His performances have been broadcast nationally on American Public Media’s PIPEDREAMS organ program ( Dr. Tompkins’ wife, Dr. Karen Eshelman, is organist/choirmaster of St. James Episcopal Church in Greenville, and also teaches at Furman. They have three adult children, Gregory, Kevin and Vivian.


The Youth Choir, directed by Jeanie Reed, is for youth in grades 6 through 12. The Youth Choir sings a variety of sacred repertoire in worship a number of times throughout the year. The Youth Choir has previously participated in Festival by the Sea, held in Myrtle Beach. Most recently, the choir took part in the Jubilate Festival which began with a weekend retreat in January in Atlanta, Georgia, and culminated with a concert tour through Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

j-reedLaura Jean Reed is the Youth Choir director at First Baptist Greenville. She comes with a wealth of knowledge and accomplishments to her credit as a choral conductor. Jeanie, a National Board Certified Teacher, has established herself as a distinguished educator in Upstate South Carolina where she is currently the Music Specialist and Chair of the Fine Arts Team at Greenville’s Stone Academy of Communication Arts. Jeanie was the 2007-2008 Greenville County Teacher of the Year and an Honor Roll teacher for the state of South Carolina 2008-2009. Jeanie is also co-founder and director of Chicora Voices, the Greenville Children’s Choir, which is comprised of six single-gender choirs ranging from the age of 7 to 18. Jeanie is an active clinician and guest conductor throughout the nation working with music educators, youth and children’s choirs, and choir directors. Jeanie received her Master of Arts degree in education and Bachelors degree in music education from Furman University. She is most proud to be the mother of Mitchell, a graduate of Clemson University, and Philip, a graduate of Furman University and graduate student at the University of Georgia.


The six Children’s Choirs range in age from 3 years old to 5th grade. They meet on Wednesday evenings throughout the school year. The Children’s Choirs and the Children’s Missions groups coordinate their schedules and meet between 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday Night Children’s activities schedule before Christmas

3 year olds — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Angel Choir and Mission Friends; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Nursery

4 year olds — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Mission Friends; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Archangel Choir

5 year olds — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Mission Friends; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Treble Choir

1st Grade — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m.  Children on Mission; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m.  Melody Choir

2nd/3rd Grade — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Children on Mission; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Harmony Choir

4th/5th Grade — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Children on Mission; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Junior Choir

Wednesday Night Children’s activities schedule after Christmas

3 year olds — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Angel Choir and Mission Friends;

6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Nursery

4 year olds — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Archangel Choir; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Mission Friends

5 year olds — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Treble Choir; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Mission Friends

1st Grade — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Melody Choir; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Children on Mission

2nd/3rd Grade — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Harmony Choir; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Children on Mission

4th/5th Grade — 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Junior Choir; 6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Children on Mission

Priscilla Harris is the coordinator for the six Children’s Choirs at First Baptist Greenville. She is a graduate of Furman University with degrees in music and mathematics. She has sung in several choral organizations including the Furman Singers, the Atlanta Choral Society, the Appalachian Chorale, the Greenville Chorale and the FBG Sanctuary Choir. Priscilla has also been a soloist for each of these musical groups. As a sign language interpreter by trade, she enjoys using sign language with the Treble Choir she directs. Priscilla thinks it is wonderful to be in a church that values the meaningful contributions of our children through music.

Kimberly Coates has served as the music and worship ministry assistant at First Baptist Greenville since 2008. Kimberly works closely with Dr. Hamilton and Dr. Tompkins with regard to the Sanctuary Choir and worship services. She has the privilege to work on many aspects of the worship services from planning to implementation. She also enjoys working with Priscilla Harris, the leaders of the Children’s Choirs and Jeanie Reed, providing whatever support she can. Getting to know members of the choirs and their families is a joy and makes a large church seem smaller. Kimberly is also responsible for the church newsletter, trying to keep the church informed on events within the church as well as those within our community and affiliates. A graduate of Mars Hill College, Kimberly has a math degree with enough hours in music for a minor. She continued voice and piano in college, singing with Dr. William Thomas in the Mars Hill Choir. Kimberly and her husband, Lee, have three grown children: Brittany, Jordan and Sara Kathryn – these are her greatest joys.

Music Series

August 7, 10:30 a.m. – Summer Music Sunday: Livingston Taylor

September 18, 10:30 a.m. – South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Wind Ensemble

September 25, 10:30 a.m. – Handbells

October 2, 3:00 p.m. – Charles Tompkins, Organist, in Recital

October 9, 10:30 a.m. – Children’s Choirs

November 6, 10: a.m. – Furman Concert Choir Reunion with Milburn Price

November 27, 10:30 a.m. – Hanging of the Green Service

December 2 – Chicora Voices in Concert

December 4, 10:30 a.m. – Sanctuary Choir: The Sounds of Christmas

December 6, 7:30 p.m. – South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra

December 11, 6:00 p.m. – Children’s Choirs Christmas Program

December 18, 6:30 p.m. – Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols

January 26 – Furman Church Music Conference with Andre Thomas and John Ferguson

March 31-April 1 – South Carolina Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Conference – Sanctuary Choir, Service Choir

April 2, 10:30 a.m. – Portion of Mendelssohn’s Elijah – Sanctuary Choir and Chamber Orchestra

April 16, 10:30 a.m. – Easter with Sanctuary Choir and Brass

April 23, 3:00 p.m. – Greenville Chorale concert (ticketed event)

June 4, 10:30 a.m. – Pentecost with Mozart’s Veni Sancte Spiritus

August 6, 10:30 a.m. – Furman Singers Reunion Choir

ANNOUNCING… New Music Staff

ANNOUNCING… New Music Staff

Our music ministry is extremely fortunate to have two new staff members joining us this fall: Shelton Love, organist, and Amy Joye, youth music. After a ten month long search, we have invited Shelton Love to serve as our new organist beginning September 6. Shelton is...

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Summer Singing

Summer Singing

Singing in the choir is a meaningful way to experience worship from a different vantage point. The mission of our Sanctuary Choir is to build, cultivate and educate our worship community in the teachings and liturgy we celebrate, and to be active participants in the...

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Children’s Year-End Celebration

Children’s Year-End Celebration

Thank you, children’s choirs and mission groups, for a wonderful year of fun and learning! The dedication of children, families and leaders made for a successful year, which we enjoyed showcasing on May 3. We offer many thanks to Freda Lark and Wesley Smith for their...

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