Saturday, July 17, 2010

In Memory of Bryan Turner

Over the past several days, there has been a great deal of reminiscing. I suppose that is one of the beautiful things about death; our memories... and the fact that something stirs up in us to share them.

I can't help but imagine myself in Joy's position and become utterly overwhelmed by the weight of it all. Most overwhelming in my mind would be the responsibility of sharing my husband's legacy with my children. They wouldn't have the opportunity to see for themselves what a wonderful, sacrificial, loving, godly father they'd been given. How could I possibly convey it to them? No words will ever replace the actual man, but we have words and memories to share. Perhaps our sharing will give Bryan's sons a glimpse into what a wonderful, sacrificial, loving, godly father they'd been given as well, and how he touched the lives of all who knew him.

Quincy and Bryan became friends a long time ago. In fact, it was so long ago that Quincy's memory is fuzzy at best. Hopefully Paul can come along and clarify, because Quincy is quite jumbled on the subject. Bear that in mind as you read.

Quincy first remembers seeing Bryan playing in the orchestra at First Baptist. He played percussion and could be seen for miles because of his streak of bright blonde hair. I guess this hairstyle garnered him the nicknames "Skunk," and "Two-Tone Turner."

I must say, I have mad respect for this classic hairstyle. Not just any guy could pull it off.

They later officially met through a mutual friend, Paul Young. Bryan was a couple years older than Quincy and was part of FBC's College & Career Ministry. When Quincy moved up from the high school department, they became friends. Bryan (keyboard/acoustic guitar/vocals) was a talented musician, as were Paul (drums), Kim (bass), and Dave (bass). Quincy (guitar) was more of a novice, but they adopted him nonetheless. They began leading worship as a back-up band for the ensemble in the College & Career Ministry on Sunday mornings. 

The story gets really unclear at this point, and I don't want to slander anyone. I'll just say that if anyone was in the wrong, it was clearly NOT Bryan, or my husband, or Paul. ;) It seems that there were "artistic differences" between this band of "rockers" and the ensemble with whom they were paired. The band and ensemble parted ways, the band emerging victorious. I like to envision this and other future tiffs like a rousing game of king of the mountain. They led worship on their own from that point. 

Somewhere around that time, these three guys adopted the name "Psalm 150 Funk." Quincy says that he and Bryan came up with "Psalm 150" (I think it was actually a really old school Hebraic worshipper, possibly David, but whatever...) and that Paul added the "Funk." (I really enjoy saying "Paul added the funk.") Back then, they took hymns and traditional songs and made them "funky." They weren't a white-boy funk band. Maybe if they would have tried harder?. :)

Quincy told me a funny story of how frustrated these guys often found themselves when trying to practice at  First Baptist. They were often told that the room and sound board would be unlocked, and the air conditioning and lights would be on, only to find that these things had not happened. I guess Bryan got so frustrated one week that he stuck a wooden doorstop into the case around the sound board to break it open. Quincy then took apart the lock mechanism and hid the pieces in the ceiling. (I find this story hilarious, by the way. I can't really imagine my husband, or Bryan, doing anything remotely wrong.) Quincy calls this a classic incidence of doing the right thing in completely the wrong way. You see, their hearts were really for worship. They just wanted to practice and praise the Lord in the best way possible. They found themselves frustrated and did something silly. Our children will undoubtedly do the same kinds of things someday. Hopefully in reading this, Bryan's boys will know that their Daddy made mistakes. And mistakes are okay. That's how we learn. 

Quincy told me another funny story of a time that their band went to Daytona Beach to lead worship for a retreat. On the car ride there, my husband spent the entire trip blowing up this massive killer whale float. Upon arrival, Bryan immediately jumped off the dock and onto the whale, bursting its seams and rendering it useless. Bummer!

(The aftermath. Quincy is so sad.)

It seems there was a change in leadership and trouble finding the balance between "loud" and "too loud." Again, it is obvious that these three young whippersnappers were always in the right, and "the man" was just trying to keep them down. Quincy was in and out for a season, attending another local church. Apparently he actually dated other people before me, and one of them influenced his church of choice. I am as shocked as you. 

Eventually, Quincy was reunited with Bryan and Paul at University Baptist Church. Both Bryan and Paul were teaching at University Christian, and this was part of the reason they'd begun attending the church. Bryan taught Bible and always loved God's Word. Bryan was playing keyboard and helping with worship at that point. Paul was playing drums. Dave was playing bass. Trent (a new introduction) was playing guitar. 

Those of you in the church will understand that this transitional time in worship was the beginning of a raging battle, in which musicians of the time (and even now) found themselves embroiled. Apparently this is not the first time this battle has occurred in the church. I guess the transition from high church to hymns was just as heated. I suppose this overarching argument is another one of those "doing the right thing in the wrong way" situations. I'm sure that as Bryan and the others involved helped UBC to adopt this contemporary praise style for a season, there was a lot of difficulty and strife. I can tell you without a doubt that Bryan's highest priority was always that people come to know Jesus. I'm certain that his motivation was that if a more modern worship style would draw people who would not otherwise engage, he would do whatever it took to spearhead that transition. 

Psalm 150 Funk began practicing their original songs on Tuesday nights after the praise band had concluded their practice. Quincy said that their practices were always a lot of fun. They would always play around and be silly. A lot of times, they would do a Bible study together, usually with Bryan or Quincy leading. There was a running joke that Bryan could always pull a Bible study out of thin air ("Thin air" is nicer than the actual jokes they made.). During practice, Bryan would often run back and forth from the stage to the sound board, making adjustments, and feeding his love for wires. Quincy said that Bryan was the kind of guy who realized that there was one wire that could accomplish the job but would find a way to use ten instead. It was one of those things that the guys ribbed Bryan about but also found admirable. Bryan was resourceful. He could figure things out and make it work. He was an out-of-the-box thinker. (Jesus Bus, anyone?)

While at UBC, Bryan met and fell in love with the beautiful Joy Cornwell. 
Joy was always supportive of the band, attending their shows, and manning the video camera. Quincy also said she was always trying to set him up with somebody. (I forgive you, Joy.) The Cornwell home was continually a gathering place for friends. Quincy says that he feels like the Cornwells loved and welcomed Bryan to the family immediately. It wasn't long before Bryan and Joy were engaged.

At their wedding, Quincy said he remembered that everyone left the room but he and Bryan. Right before they were supposed to go down front, the two of them prayed together. Quincy said that was really special to him, and special to Bryan as well. He remembers Bryan thanking him for staying behind and praying with him.
(Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Turner)

(Psalm 150 Funk at the wedding. Trent Anderson, Dave Benson, Bryan Turner, Paul Young, Quincy Richardson)

Bryan and Quincy always really connected spiritually. They were cut from the same cloth in this respect. They both love God more than anything, and they love to talk about Him, and about His Word. Because of that, I know that Bryan's friendship was one of Quincy's most cherished. He said that Bryan had a way of always making you feel like he was listening. He was engaged and involved. He genuinely cared. He was a look-you-in-the-eye, hug-you-tight kind of guy. 

Eventually the contemporary service at UBC went the way of the dodo, but by this point, Psalm 150 Funk was regularly playing at local and church events, retreats, and Murray Hill Theatre. The guys continued to practice together on a weekly basis. Bryan was usually late, but he was Bryan. He had this puppy dog way about him, and they just couldn't stay mad at him for it. Quincy also said that the guys would tease Bryan about the wheel on his keyboard. I guess he had settings for each of the songs that the band performed but always had trouble finding them. They'd watch and wait as Bryan busily spun the wheel on the keyboard. Quincy was laughing as he said to me, "Bryan, come on. We've been playing the same ten songs for a year and a half!" The guys also razzed Bryan because they were all trying to be this cool Christian rock band, but Bryan would show up in a Polo shirt, tucked into a pair of Dockers, with a pair of boat shoes. Bryan was who he was. (My husband seriously has no room to judge wardrobes though. See below.) 

Quincy says that for Bryan, the band was least about being a cool Christian rocker than anyone else. Bryan just wanted to praise God. Bryan loved Jesus, music, and his friends. Quincy feels like that was really the extent of it for him. He was just a humble guy using his talents for the Lord, not necessarily trying to be admired or famous because of it. We could all learn a thing or two from that.

Bryan was a show-up-at-the-gig-two-minutes-before-starting fella. I guess Quincy and Paul bore the brunt of setup and tear down, while Bryan was lovingly oblivious. From Quincy's account, it just seems like Bryan was a busy, "something shiny" type of guy. Usually Bryan's "something shiny" was a person who needed to know about Jesus. Can't fault him for that. What if we lived our lives like Bryan, dropping anything at any moment, to share hope with whoever needed it?

At one point, Psalm 150 Funk had become Murray Hill's most recommended band for local events. They were very busy. I guess a bit of burnout started to set in. They eventually decided to take a break for the summer. This was when Quincy and I met. I suppose one could accuse me of Yoko-ing the band, and due to my own overinflated self-importance, I'll take the blame. Not really. :) Their first scheduled practice to reunite after the summer was on September 11, 2001. We are all aware of the tragic events of that day. Practice was put on the back burner, and sadly, Psalm 150 Funk's reunion practice actually occurred just the other night, in preparation for Bryan's funeral. It will not be the same without him.

Quincy and I were engaged in August 2001 and married in May 2002. Bryan coordinated and handled the music for our wedding. We weren't very traditional, and "the Funk" pretty much rocked the house. 

(At our rehearsal dinner. Dinah Robinson, Brent Chapman, Wally Bowden, Joy Turner, Bryan Turner)

Shortly after we were married, I remember going to Bryan and Joy's house to hang out. They showed me videos of Psalm 150 Funk, as I'd never seen them play. I remember them just being so sweet and welcoming. They both were and are the kind of people who can just make you feel at home. I remember them giving us marriage advice, as the sage newlyweds that they were. :) I specifically remember Bryan saying to "always live beneath your means." 

Unfortunately, God took us and the Turners to different places in ministry and we have never really served at the same places since our marriage. We've seen each other here and there, and participated in lots of events with them. I remember attending Bryan's Surprise 30th Birthday Party. I remember visiting Joy just after Benjamin was born. 

Quincy was part of another worship band, Ascension (, along with Jamie Miley (another of Bryan's good friends). Ascension played Christmas carols in Northside neighborhoods on the Jesus Bus with Bryan. Bryan coordinated an Ascension event at UBC. We were always in and out of each other's lives.

I know that Quincy has a long list of cherished memories with Bryan, but I will tell you mine. Our second baby was stillborn in November 2008. We decided to have a birthday celebration for him, to see friends and family, and because it would be the only birthday party he'd ever have. Bryan and Joy came. They didn't have to do that. I remember Bryan doing what I've already mentioned above. He looked me in the eye. He was engaged. He genuinely cared. I remember getting a tight hug from him. He was present. He was there. Joy was right alongside him and matched his encouragement. It takes a special person to show up in your darkest hour and just be there. Bryan was that kind of guy.

Bryan was a lover of God. He shared Jesus wherever he went. He was kind and compassionate. He genuinely cared about other people. Bryan was a devoted friend. He was quirky and sometimes absentminded. Bryan made mistakes. He wasn't perfect, but he would point you to the One who is. Bryan was silly and funny. Bryan loved wires. He rocked the two-tone haircut and later, a pair of Dockers. He loved his wife and kids. He loved God's Word. Bryan exploded whale floats and often ran late. He was a good man, and many people loved him.

Joy, you are blessed among women to have been loved by such a man. Even if you'd known this tragedy was coming, I know you would have chosen the last ten years with Bryan anyway.

Benjamin and Timothy, what fortunate little boys to have been born to such a father. I have no doubt that his legacy will impact you forever and that you will bear the fruit of generational blessing. I am sorry that you did not get more time with him. I trust that your Heavenly Father knows what is best. I know your daddy did. I pray that you grow into men who will take your daddy's place in the kingdom, sharing Jesus without fear, loving others without holding back, and living lives that honor our God. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13


  1. WOW!! What a tribute to such a special man and his family!! I know that Joy and the boys will definitely appreciate the way you wrote about him!

  2. Thank You for this. I've never heard a negative word said about Bryan. He was such a generous man. Generous with his time, talents, and treasure. What an example of how a Christians life should look.

    God- thank you for bringing Bryan into our lives. Thank you for the strength and courage You've given Bryan all these years to be a faithful follower of you, and an example to us all. - Amen

  3. Thank you so much for this tribute, Jennifer. I never knew Bryan, but have prayed for him and his family since his accident happened. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet him on this side of heaven.

  4. Jennifer, this was a beautiful way to honor Bryan....he meant so much to so many and his legacy will live on through his friends and family. Thank you for sharing this with the rest of us.

  5. This is an awesome look into Bryan's, Quincy's and even your life. It makes me wish I knew people like that. But, the great thing is that I do!!! How sweet!
    I want you to write me one of these things here when I go ok!!! Promise me!
    Do yo mind if I leave something for Bryan here??
    Well, I am going to anyways.

  6. Bryan Porter Turner, my best earthly friend (not including my precious Stacey) is dancing with our Savior now. I am jealous of him. I miss him. My life certainly will NEVER be the same because of his Godly living that has indelibly impacted me.
    I am in the field at Camp Blanding, and it seems surreal still. I am sure when I get home next week, it will hit me. Either way, I am strongly, overwhelmingly burdened to pick up the mantle he left behind (a la Elijah/Elishah).
    I am speaking not only of the Bus, but of loving everyone without any partiality at all.
    "Porter, I love you man. I always have. I will
    keep my promise to you with God as my witness. I'll squeeze Nana's mid-section a few times as well. Tell Elmer I miss & love him. I am jealous of you two being there together with our Redeemer without me. I still have work to do down here apparently. I just now cried a few tears for you - for real. I will cry no more, unless it is to rejoice that you are with the Author AND Completer of our faith ok! I'm sure you have some more adorning & worshipping of God to do. Bye now. You will be remembered and missed daily my friend. Thanks for everything! I better let you go. I love you man"
    " there a drumset in heaven? I certainly expect there to be one."

  7. Wow what a wonderful honor in Bryan's memory. He was such a wonderful Christian man and will truly be missed!!

  8. What a beautiful tribute. The world was lucky to have him while it did. Blessings on the Turner family!