Pastor's song picked as new Methodist hymn
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 3, 2011 1:50 AM
Adam Seate, senior pastor at St. Luke United Methodist Church, has a song he and a friend co-wrote in the new Methodist supplemental hymnal.
Adam Seate uses music to change lives and connect people to God in new and different ways. But through the new United Methodist supplemental hymnal, one piece of his music will affect people for generations to come.
"Covenant Prayer" is an old prayer from the traditional church hymnal that Seate, the senior pastor at St. Luke United Methodist Church, and fellow musician Jay Locklear of Sanford toyed with and set to music, and recently offered it up as a potential new hymn.
"A few years ago, Jay and I were to lead a youth event at Methodist University in Fayetteville," Seate said. "We were asked if we could take a prayer, known as Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan tradition, and put it to music.
"This prayer does not rhyme. We adapted it and put it into a melody that could be sung so these young people at this event would be able to learn it. It was quite a challenge."
The pair worked on the song in St. Luke's sanctuary.
Seate and Locklear changed some of the wording, but worked to retain the prayer's original spirit, and at that year's convention, many young adults learned the Covenant Prayer in song form.
Then, when Seate and Locklear heard the United Methodist Church was working a new hymnal, they decided to submit their song. But when the economy turned down, the denomination scrapped plans for a complete overhaul and decided instead to do a supplement booklet, which was published a few months ago.
Since writing "Covenant Prayer," Seate and Locklear have written other songs for various youth events, and even did the theme song for an event at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville attended by 6,000 youths from across the state.
Seate attributes his ability as a musician as a gift from God.
"I was a musician before I became a minister," Seate said. "I played in rock 'n' roll bands. But I could never write lyrics or sing. I could only write the music.
"The day I committed myself to Christ and committed myself to serving Him, God gave me a voice and He gave me words. I truly believe it's the Holy Spirit working through me."
Seate has played guitar for about 25 years.
His father, Billy Seate, was pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Goldsboro for several years, and recently retired.
"I got the calling as I was fighting with God about my calling," Seate said. "I went off to college and explored the world, straying away from God. I wanted to be in a rock band.
"I knew what God was calling me to do, and I didn't want to live the life that I had seen my father go through as a minister. He was always having to submit. I wanted to control."
After Seate graduated from college and married, he began to realize that his life was not going well. So he and his wife bounced around from one church to another until Seate finally found one where God spoke to him.
"It was in Dunn," he said. "The pastor there preached similarly to my father, and it spoke to me in a new way. He also played the guitar and sang. He was a model for me for what I've tried to be as a pastor."
Now, not only does Seate pastor his congregation through the word of God, but also with his music.
"I believe that through my music, I'm leading people to God," he said. "I believe music is always an incredibly important part of worship. Whether it's the notes played on handbells, the reverberation of an organ or whatever, it begins to stir the soul, and allows the Holy Spirit to come in and shape us and form us."
Seate has seen firsthand how music leads people to God.
"I had a young person come up to me one time and show me a tattoo they had on their back shoulder," he said. "It was a ship's steering wheel. They said they got it because of me. I was very confused.
"It was because a few years ago I wrote a new melody for the old hymn 'Jesus Savior Pilot Me.' Because that song had impacted this person's life so much, they always wanted to be reminded that Jesus is at the pilot's helm of their life. So they got this tattoo."
After all his years as a musician, Seate still finds it "pretty amazing to hear other people sing something God has used me to help produce. I'm grateful to be used in that way. I feel God's calling me to be a minister of the gospel in whatever form."
Songs come to Seate most times when he's running.
"Running is sort of my outlet," he said. "And many times when I'm running, a melody will come to mind. And sometimes I'll be playing the guitar and something comes to me."
But one of his most memorable experiences came out of sadness.
"About seven years ago my grandmother was dying of cancer and my grandfather and she were in a nursing home," he said. They had been married about 60 years.
"And knowing that his wife was about to die, I'll never forget my granddad said to me, 'Adam, there's not enough days to give God all the praise he deserves.' I've always been struck by those words, and I wanted to write a song called 'There's Not Enough Days' based on those words and that experience."
He finally got the chance to do just that.
"Last week as I was trying to write a song for my father's retirement, words escaped me," Seate said. "I could not come up with anything. It was neat how it all came together. I finally wrote a song to remember those words that my grandpa gave me, to be reminded of the strength that we can have in the midst of those times of difficulty."
It goes: "There's not enough days to give God all the praise/There's not enough words to speak of His worth/So even in the dark still I will say/There's not enough days to give you the praise."