Keith Green

1 Dec

ImageΒ Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  In July 1976 I resigned from the U. S. Postal Service, after 6 Β½ years of continual service, to become a Foursquare minister, in an inner city church in Los Angeles. The name of the church was the Highland Park Neighborhood Church (HPNC), in the North East Los Angeles barrio. One of my jobs was booking musical artists to perform at neighborhood Friday night concerts. The first artist that I booked was new on the Jesus music scene, by the name of Keith Green. Chuck Girard, who had been the leader of Love Song, a seminal Jesus music group, recommended him to me when I contacted him about playing one night, which he did.

I’ll never forget that night, because it was bizarre in a transcendent sort of way. Keith arrived early and set up a table in the church vestibule and tested the sound system, which was pretty archaic. I was greeting people as they entered the sanctuary and one person that stood out to me was a man who appeared to be in his mid 30s with the longest fingernails that I had ever seen in my life, at the time. He was excited about the concert and said that β€œthe community needed to provide more cultural events if they expected the Β proletariat to rise above the vomit that they wallowed in.”

At 8:00 P.M., I walked onto the platform and greeted the crowd of over 100 people, leading them in an opening prayer to dedicate the night to the Lord. Then I turned it over to Gloria Miller, who led the crowd in worship choruses using her autoharp.

β€œSeek ye first
The kingdom of God
And his righteousness…”

She sang as the congregation raised their hands in worship. After a half dozen songs, Gloria walked off the stage and I introduced Keith Green to the audience as the intense guy, wearing the same kind of body shirt that I sometimes wore, sat down at the piano and started pounding the keys like nobody ever had in the 5 years that I attended HPNC. Keith ranted and raged, with song and words, while at the same time he cooed and soothed, until the ecclesia was one. But there were still some who were not won over, and it was with these that the battle raged. They were the materialists who used their wealth for their own selfish purposes, rather than to help those less fortunate. But then isn’t that all of us? When we see a person with a cardboard sign saying β€œplease help” or β€œwhy lie, I just want beer,” what do we think? If the person with the cardboard sign is talking on a cell phone, do we think, β€œhey your sign should say need more minutes”?

Anyway, Keith blew everyone away, and at the end of his set, rather that letting me give the alter call and doxology, he called the entire church to repentance, including the staff and senior pastor. Neither the senior pastor nor I went forward, but we wondered, who does this guy think he is?

So, while all of this was going on, I was studying photography at Pasadena City College so I could better document the Jesus movement that was going on around me, as well as produce multi-media slide shows for the edification and enlightenment of the body of Christ. The night that Keith Green ministered at HPNC, I asked him if it was okay for me to photograph him. He told me that I could take a couple of photos but that was all. I only took 2 and this is the best one.

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