He was home-grown in so many ways. Coming of age here in West Michigan, Ken graduated from Wyoming Park High School and Western Michigan University. He spent seven years leading worship/music at Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, followed by many more years serving at Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.
To call Ken Reynolds multi-talented sounds like an understatement. Through the years he had so many outlets for his musical abilities – recordings, production, concerts, and international performances. As a child he first took up the drums, eventually adding bass guitar and keyboards. All the while he was honing his gifts for songwriting, arranging and audio production.
It just made sense that he was also a devoted husband and father. It all fit together for this gentle, gracious and soft-spoken person who nevertheless could deliver heart-felt, boisterous shouts of praise from a church platform.
REVISITING AN ENCOUNTER
I was able to write numerous articles on Ken through the years; for the Grand Rapids Press, Spotlight Magazine, and right here in Manna Media's West Michigan Christian News. But after hearing the news of his passing my mind eventually went back to an in-person interview I did with him back in 2008.
We were seated around a small table on a sunlit patio in downtown Nashville, Tenn. It was during the Gospel Music Association convention and Ken was doing media interviews promoting his signing with Integrity Music, one of the nation's top worship music record labels. (I joked with him that I had to go all the way to Nashville to interview a guy from Grand Rapids)!
His album, "Great Things," was released that year on the Integrity label. They had released the live album, "For You I Live," the previous year. Both were recorded at Res Life Church.
(see a live performance of "Great Things" featuring Ken leading the band and choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NputguST4QA)
"Ken is an extremely talented musician with a heart for international and multi-cultural ministry," said John Coleman, then Integrity Label Group VP/General Manager. "He shares Integrity's passion for leading people into the presence of God through worship, and he understands firsthand that worship is a catalyst for bringing the Church together."
Ken's distribution relationship with Integrity via Sony-BMG helped extend his musical impact around the world to places such as Africa, Korea and Japan.
In 2009 came "One World-One God," also recorded at the Grandville church with songs such as "Not Ashamed" and "Persuaded."
IMPRESSIVE ARRAY OF PROJECTS
While a worship leader at Madison Square, Ken steered its choir through the production of two albums of original music.
He was also musical director for the local gospel group His Image, which recorded several albums. Mostly active during the 1990s, they had a reunion concert in 2018.
He was tapped to lead a special ecumenical choir of voices from five different churches for a welcome-to-the-new-millenium concert in 1999 at New Hope Baptist Church in Grand Rapids.
Ken's influence was also strongly felt as his Resurrection Life church home. His guidance led to a lively praise music recording in 2015 titled "ResLife Worship: Higher."
He also helped his musical parents – Barb and Ben Reynolds – to record an album of their own.
The following year Ken led the Res. Life Choir in a Christmas concert performance supporting the Grand Rapids Symphony and the inspirational-pop band MercyMe.
In 2019 ResLife music released a three-song Christmas EP: all of the songs written and produced by Ken Reynolds.
Ken was also part of The James Family, the long-time gospel music ensemble made up of members from the Perry and James families (Ken's mother was a James). The group of talented artists also features his cousins Deborah Perry and her brother Gerald. (Gerald was also a member of His Image).
Ken, Gerald and Deborah had doing groundwork for a new James Family recording.
Mark Van Harmelen attended Madison Square church and played percussion on a worship team when Ken was there. "After Ken was diagnosed, it was hard to hear," he recalled. "But his encouraging video posts on social media were spiritual medicine for me since I had been dealing with a long term health issue myself."
Kenneth Henderson, current worship arts director at the Madison Church, considered Ken a mentor. "This process did not shake you," he wrote in honor of his longtime friend. "You encouraged us through it – I love you and the music you left us lives on."
A Celebration of Life for Ken Reynolds
Visitation 4 to 8pm Fri. Aug. 13
Viewing 10-11am; Celebration 11am Sat. Aug. 14
All events at Res Life Church, 5100 Ivanrest Ave. SW Grandville
Celebration will be streamed at www.reslife.org