October 24th, 2011

I am often amazed and humbled that God has blessed Corinth with staff continuity across the past decade.  We currently employ eleven staff members who have served with us ten or more years:  Bob Thompson (18), Joe Lippard (15), Linda Thompson (14), Laura Owens (14), Sharon Rowe (11), Paul Cummings (11), Bill Howell (11), Jan Caldwell (11), Betty McGee (11), Barbara Roithner (10),  and Peter Corneliussen (10). 

It’s time to honor Peter.  Please see below for Corinth members and staff, as well as community musicians have written about Peter.

Among the 25+ tributes was this acrostic by Heidi Rice –

·        Prayerful:  Peter’s faith is evident in his music, his prayers, and his daily life.

·        Entertaining:  The Lord gave Peter a terrific sense of humor!

·        Talented:  God also blessed Peter with amazing musical talents, and Peter uses those fully to the glory of God and the nourishment of our spirits.

·        Energetic:  Peter is passionate about his ministry!

·        Rock:  Peter is a wonderful example of what a man of faith should be—to family, friends, Miss Maggie, and all whom he encounters.

Heidi’s tribute is creative, appropriate since it is one of Peter’s own attributes.  We in the choir are constantly amazed that Peter can take a Scripture text or theme and turn it into a piece of music the choir or a soloist can sing – all in a few days’ time.  This past Sunday was a good example, when Peter wrote both an anthem for the choir based on Psalm 137 and a solo for “Nebuchadnezzar” between Sundays.  I’m quite sure he writes songs in his sleep.

As pastor, what I appreciate most about Peter is his adaptability.  He starts with what is – what the Pastor wants to emphasize in the message, who’s available to sing or play, and what their capability or range is.  Then Peter will choose – or write – music that fits.

I don’t know that any of us knew how the church would change in the last decade, particularly with the addition of an 11:00 contemporary service.  Many music directors would have made life miserable for others in such a time of transition.  Peter has adapted, supported, and blessed all of us.  If it weren’t for the spirit both Peter Corneliussen and Paul Cummings displayed toward each other, we would all have been working through a lot of conflict issues!

We thank God for Peter, Lisa, Garrett, and Shane – as well as for Bob and Gail Young (Lisa’s parents), who have also become part of our church family.  Peter has become not only a professional colleague, but a valued friend.


Other tributes to Peter


Paul Schowalter:  I don’t possess the talent to carry a tune across the street; however, I do appreciate good music…Peter gives us overwhelming music!  His ability to attract musicians, his creativity to write scores, his capability to identify and nurture budding talent, his capacity to blend the music and the message, and his own personal skills with multiple instruments is awe-inspiring to me.  Sunday after Sunday his musical wisdom and expertise transitions me from our sanctuary in little Hickory into a metropolitan musical theatre.  He prepares me to worship God more completely…I am blessed because of Peter!


Sharon Wiehrdt:  Peter is the most creative choir director who can compose, direct, and perform a choir anthem in the shortest time on record and also is a fabulous organist, pianist as well – we love him. 

Ed Wiehrdt:  Peter keeps telling me I’m his role model – guess he wants to live to age 89!

Linda Thompson:  Peter is a rare blend of creative genius and humility.  I am always amazed at how he can put together a song in no time…but not just a song.  He researches the Bible story or passage, writes the words, melody and harmony, as well as instrumental accompaniment, all the while discerning which voices and instruments will be available for him to utilize.  He is truly humble about his gifts, never boasting or seeking glory for himself.  Peter works well with others with flexibility and concern for the convenience of their schedules.  He has a sincere faith that shines through his music. I am very grateful to Peter for his work with our daughter, Jeni.  The opportunities that Peter gave her to sing and perform in his musicals provided much encouragement and confidence.  He worked with Jeni on both piano and voice, teaching and helping her to grow in her abilities.  We are so thankful that God sent Peter and his dear family to us here at Corinth. 

Paul Cummings:  Peter has one of the greatest “Can do” attitudes of anyone I have ever met.  He will work with anyone, at anytime so that their gifts might be utilized to glorify the Lord!

Fonda Brittain:  I love Peter.   I admire him greatly for his talent and love to laugh at his “off the wall” comedic comments that usually hit my funny bone. Scary, huh?  I am always amazed at his writing ability and how he brings the scriptures to life through music.   We are blessed to have a man of his talent and love of music.

Gwyn Watson:  Peter is a special person and an exceptionally talented music director.  I started singing in the choir with Peter for a mental health hour when my kids were in the nursery – has that really been ten years ago?  My husband considers me a Peter Corneliussen groupie…but, you would be one too if you ever watched him play the Widor Toccata from the organ loft.  In addition to his own musical talent, Peter has the ability to encourage others to develop their own talents.  I have seen him set the bar high for children and teenagers (and the chancel choir) and with much prodding orchestrate a moving musical performance. Thank you, Peter for these ten years at Corinth and especially that you continually use your gifts and talents to glorify God!!


Will and Cori Thompson:  Peter has an amazing gift that God has blessed him with and we are so fortunate to have him share with us. He brings us into a place of worship with his amazing songs and his expertise on the organ. Thank you Peter for the blessing you are in our lives.

Nancy Killian:  Peter is a magician when he writes anthems for the choir.  Not only is his music great, but he makes us sound good too.  We are lucky to have him with us at Corinth.  Great going on your 10th anniversary and here’s to many more.    

Sharon Abernethy:  Our whole family has been involved in the music program under Peter.  David and I sing in the choir, Laura sang in musical productions and handbells, John is always welcomed home to sing in the choir and Robert and I enjoy playing handbells.  Peter’s creative energy is outstanding!  Many wishes for many years to come for his musical talent here at Corinth!  I am amazed each time Peter writes our handbell music that he can create such beautiful harmonies and write specifically to each person’s abilities!  It truly is a pleasure to perform under his direction.

Paul Weber:  As you know, while I served as interim music director at Corinth, I encouraged a full-time ministry and participated in the search process.  It was clear to me then that Peter’s gifts were a great match for your congregation.  Ten years later, it’s still true, as he shares his many talents in various capacities of music ministry.  Peter has made an impact on the music of our community and of our university.  He served as our church musician in residence early on and even wrote a piece for our chapel choir.  His organ skills have touched many people.  He is slated to play on the Advent organ recital series at First Baptist Church this December, and, of course, he has kept the Lenten organ recital series at Corinth an important feature of church music in the community and for our organ students at Lenoir-Rhyne.  Others can speak to his support for school choirs better than I, but I must say that Peter has freely shared his gifts in training young people in the choral art.  His accompanying skills are impeccable!  I am thrilled to have him as a colleague in music ministry in the Hickory community!

Betty McGee:  Peter is one of the most creative, sensitive and caring people I have ever met.   We are so blessed to have his talent, as well as his personality in our lives.  He is the arch in the rainbow, a ray of sunshine, and a cool drop of rain, all bundled together!

Joe Lippard:  Peter is a man of many and great talents.  I have always appreciated how he is considerate of others and willing to go the extra mile to be helpful.

Dustin Ousley:  Peter Corneliussen has been the accompanist for my high school choral group at Fred T. Foard High School during my seven-year tenure.  He is without a doubt one of the most talented, insightful, humble, intuitive musicians I have had the pleasure of working with. He represents a perfect balance of passion and sensitivity where music is concerned.  My students absolutely come “unglued” when they see him walk into my classroom because they know that the rehearsal is going to be taken to a whole new level because of Peter’s talents.  I hold this man in the highest regard not only as a musical colleague, but also as a friend.  Thank you, Peter, for all of your contributions to my program, your church, and the Hickory community!


Sara Isenhour:  I have never worked with such a creative musician.  I am continually amazed how Peter can “whip up” an anthem on Wednesday morning, teach it to us on Wednesday night, then sing it on Sunday morning.  His children’s programs are absolutely phenomenal.  We are so lucky to have Peter on our team!

Tamera Shook:  Corinth is fortunate to have such a great leader of worship on staff!  Peter has been an ardent supporter of the public school music programs in our community. He has accompanied, helped with providing a wonderful venue for choruses to give their concerts, and always been willing to go the extra mile when choral directors need advice or encouragement. I am look forward to working with Peter another 10 years!  Congratulations!


Jan Ketcham:  I am in awe as to how talented Peter really is!  He is a joy to work with, and I just love his dry sense of humor.  He is so dedicated to Corinth’s music program and has such a strong faith!  Congratulations on 10 impressive years…

Anthony DeNuccio:  Although immensity musically talented – has been an inspiration in a sense beyond pure musicianship. He is a humble servant of Jesus who extends grace on every level of skill to all aspiring singers. Even more gracious to anyone willing to lift their heart and voice without and ounce of discrimination toward skill level, ethnicity, age , or disability. In all of this, Peter’s music ministry is a model of the gospel. As God lowered Himself taking the place of utter humility, and becoming a Man to the point of taking our shame in our place, so too Peter stoops on every level to encourage believers, and unbelievers in the worship of the glorious King of Kings who will return in glory and power, and in Majesty to reign forever. Amen !!!

Sharon Rowe:  Peter is full of surprises and fun to work with at Corinth. His creativity and his ability to help people shine is amazing. He is smart, witty, and a wonderful person. I am blessed to call him my friend!

William, Toni, and Heather Hall: Choir and handbells are highlights of our week! The opportunity to perform Peter’s hot-off-the-press masterpieces is priceless, and his spiritual leadership and guidance bonds the choir together like a family. Although we enjoy Peter–the  passionate, musical genius and talent–just like everyone else does, it’s his humble, endearing spirit and heart for the Lord that makes him one of our favorite people in the world. We have wonderful memories of all Peter’s productions, Montreat with the cast of M. Magdalene, chances to perform his solos, Candlelighting, Madrigal dinners, organ recitals, and so many more. It is our privilege and pleasure to know Peter as a musician and as a friend. He is such a huge blessing to the Halls and to Corinth!!

Tim Phillips:  Congrats to Peter for ten years here in Hickory!  It’s always fun and rewarding to work with Peter.  His compositions and arrangements bear a unique style which match Peter’s inimitable wit and creativity!  We’re happy to have Peter in Hickory as a positive addition to our professional music community.

Helgi Shuford:  Peter Corneliussen has been an inspiration to me in so many ways: The unique ways he uses his extraordinary talents as a musician and composer to express his faith…his way of challenging us as a choir, etc. His genuineness, caring, and kindness toward others – his sense of humor, his energy, and his way of not taking himself so seriously… But most of all, his desire to express his love for his God, which manifests itself in so many inimitable ways… How fortunate we are to have Peter in our midst!


Jan Caldwell:  Peter is one of the most creative people I have known.  He is amazing with his musical talent.  I cannot understand his mind, but so appreciate his talent.  

Bev and Neil Forrest:  Music has been, and is, a very large part of the worship experience for both Bev and for me; Bev, as she hears his captivating music from the congregation and me as an active participant in Bells and Choir.  Peter is the most dedicated and learned music director I have EVER worked with and I “ain’t no spring chicken”!  He truly wants the music program at Corinth to be the very best and he never loses sight of that goal.  He also keeps personal anecdotes/favorites in his repertoire (the Toccata from Widors 5th is our all time favorite, and Peter manages to sneak it in every now and then). Peter is a true gift from God and we are SO fortunate to have him!

Willi Klappert:  Here is my take on Peter: The Einstein of music, the Red Skelten of Humor, the mother Teresa of loving and caring, and inspiring like Vince Lombardi. All wrapped up in one, a real Mensch. Peter is the kind of person you just want to be around.


Roger Young:  Peter represents the quiet, humble, incredibly talented people of the world.  He is a true asset to Corinth and makes worship an even more meaningful experience. 

Lauren Everley:  I love to watch people who have a true God given talent use it to God’s glory-and Peter does that every day. How can that not just inspire everyone around him! And he’s got a great sense of humor!:)

4 Responses to Tributes to Peter »

  • lcorneliussen says:

    Wow, let me wipe away the tears so I can type! I am trying to read the wonderful comments to Peter, but can’t do it without getting all choked up. Peter is a lucky man because he loves his “job” which is really his “calling and passion”. Not only does he enjoy writing music but he loves his ministry with our Corinth family. We love you all and have enjoyed life in Hickory very much. It is sometimes so hard to believe that it has been 10 years until I look back at pictures of our boys who were 3 & 7 at the time. We are so blessed that God brought us to Corinth. Thank you for loving and supporting us. Lisa, Garrett, and Shane

  • bob says:

    Thank you, Lisa! I’m glad the comments touched you and your family. Yes, I remember that first very memorable meeting with your family at what was then Holiday Inn! It’s very hard to believe ten years have passed. I know that Peter’s calling (including his somewhat irregular hours for performing – much more so writing when the inspiration hits him) affects the whole family. Thank you for sharing in his calling.

  • bob says:

    Here’s another comment that just came in, from Lucy Corwin –

    He is such a talented and gifted musician, but what has touched me the most is his willingness to put countless hours into composing songs that make an “event” (whether a church service, wedding, or even the Pregnancy Care banquet) special. His heart is so big and he is so generous with his time. Last year he came and performed for our PCC banquet/fundraiser when we had Gary Bauer speak. Then you witnessed the beautiful song he wrote for Dori and John’s wedding. Just this past Sunday he did it again with the song he wrote about King Nebuchadnezzar. Your sermon would have been wonderful without the song, but the song took it to a higher level. We are so blessed to have him at Corinth!

    Also, because of Peter’s leadership in worship he draws a fantastic crew of musicians to perform his works. Even in larger metropolitan churches, I haven’t heard music like we have right here at Corinth! Thank you Peter!!! You could be most anywhere you would choose to be, but have chosen us! We do appreciate you!

  • bob says:

    And other, from Bill Howell: Peter has been a source of inspiration to so many in the church and the community at large. I am so honored to have been a partner with him as a member of our ministry team. Peter one day I will sing a solo. God Bless you and keep you as you continue to minister to us all with your creative abilities.

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