GospelFest Ministries exists primarily to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ through music! This is done on several different levels: personal contact at concerts and over the radio program, and indirectly, by helping train and equip other ministries to do the same. To acheive this goal, we have developed 4 different areas of ministry:
CONCERT PRODUCTION: Every year, GospelFest Ministries presents several large gospel music events, including the Summertime GospelFest concert (along with the GospelFest Singers and community choir), the Christmastime GospelFest and Harvest of Thanks concerts with the GospelFest Singers, and many other smaller events. Shawn also ministers on his own at local nursing homes and churches. Through these concerts, it's our desire to share the gospel of Christ with the lost, as well as provide encourage believers.
GOSPELFEST HOUR RADIO SHOW: For the past 7 years, Shawn has been producing and hosting "The GospelFest Hour" six nights a week on WBNH radio (central Illinois' Moody Radio affiliate). Since 2009, the program has been syndicated as a weekly hour-long program that is currently spreading gospel on over 130 stations in the United States and around the world. The program features vintage southern gospel recordings from the pioneers of the genre, as well as music from groups on the road today.
EDUCATION: GospelFest Ministries desires not only to share Jesus with others, but also to help train others to do so. To that end, Shawn is involved with gospel music schools in Nashville, TN, whose purpose is to train up future gospel musicians and ministers. For 8 years, Shawn has been a classroom teacher at the Stamps-Baxter School of Music in Nashville, and just recently has founded the "GodSong Music Academy" with Brian & Allison Speer. With this school, Shawn serves as the Director of Curriculum and Development and is responsible for the creation of online content, expansion of classes and overall development. (www.godsongmusicacademy.com)
PUBLISHING: GospelFest Ministries also provides "functional" support to other music ministries, including publishing, arranging and typesetting services. Shawn has created sheet music and songbooks for various groups and publishers in the southern gospel world and is currently working on a hymnal project for the Church of Christ publshing house in Atlanta, GA.
Shawn was born and raised in central Illinois, attending Highvew Church of God in Washington, where he became a believer at the age of 9. His exposure to gospel hymns and the songs of Bill & Gloria Gaither laid a very important foundation for what the future held for Shawn. Piano lessons in junior high along with musicals and choirs in high school led him to the music program at Illinois State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in music theory/composition and music history.
While intending for a career in musical theatre or collegiate teaching, that changed forever when he attended his first Gaither Homecoming concert in February of 1997. It was there that he was introduced to names like Speer, Goodman and Hess, and it was there he fell in love with southern gospel music. That fall, he attended the National Quartet Convention in Lousiville, where he met many people, including Ben Speer, who talked with him about the Stamps-Baxter School of Music.
As a college graduation present from his parents, Shawn attended the Stamps-Baxter School of Music in the summer of 1998 where he met many people involved in the southern gospel industry: the Speer Family, Jake Hess, Glen Payne, Vestal Goodman, James Blackwood and many others.
In 2004, Shawn became a faculty member at the school, teaching music theory, sight- singing, ear-training and advanced part-writing. It was through these experiences that Shawn saw God leading Him to full-time music ministry.
While in the graduate music program at ISU, Shawn met his future, wife, Anne Twitty, also receiving a master’s degree in music. After graduation, Shawn began working at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, IL. For two years, he served as a video editor and graphic designer before becoming assistant music minister.
In the summer of 2004, while expecting their first child, Shawn and Anne felt the call to full-time ministry and in January of 2005, joined Hands of Love Ministry as Director of Programming. While with Hands of Love, he cultivated his GospelFest concert series as well as began a daily, hour-long southern gospel radio program on Peoria’s local Moody affiliate.
Shawn and Anne left Hands of Love in the spring of 2009 to form “GospelFest Ministries.” They live in Metamora, IL, with their 2 daughters, Clara and Eliza.
Shawn Degenhart, president
- Publisher, writer, arranger, orchestrator
- Faculty member, Allison Speer's "Elijah School of Performance"
- Teacher, Ben Speer's Stamps-Baxter School of Music
- Music director, Grace Evangelical Church, Morton, IL
Nathan Edwards, vice-president
- Music teacher at Tremont Jr/Sr High School in Tremont, IL
- Involved with the music program at Grace Presbyterian Church
Anne Degenhart, secretary
- Vocal performance and music education degrees
- Voice teacher
- Mother of Clara & Eliza
Rebecca Irwin, treasurer
- President, Grace Thru Faith Ministries in Nashville, TN
Rev. Doug Habegger
- Senior Pastor, Grace Evangelical Church, Morton, IL
- Former Director of CE and General Board Chairman for FEC
- Serves on the We Care, Inc. board
- President, Allison Durham Speer Ministries, Nashville, TN
- Producer, audio engineer
- Stamps-Baxter School of Music Audio Instructor
Allison Durham Speer
- Singer, speaker, teacher
- Gaither Homecoming artist
- Elijah School of Performance, Stamps-Baxter School of Music instructor
- Veteran quartet pianist, publisher
- Stamps-Baxter School of Music teacher
- 8 years experience with non-profits including 3 years as Media Coordinator for Focus on the Family & Dr. James Dobson
- Business Finance Major from University of Southern Indiana
- church involvement includes instrumentalist (piano, flute, oboe, bassoon), worship team and choir director
- president, Nelon Music Group which includes Stamps Quartet Music, Gospel Quartet Music, LeFevre-Sing Publishing and Rex Nelon Music
- publisher, GospelMusicUpdate.com
Pastor Johnny Minick
- Senior Pastor, River of Life Church, Smyrna, TN
- Former member of the Happy Goodman Family
- Producer, singer, songwriter
- 30+ years in the corporate world, receiving both Stellar Achievement Award and Circle of Excellence Award for vision and leadership
- Administrator, Ben Speer'S Stamps-Baxter School of Music
- emigrated to Canada with her husband in 1972 to own and operate a ranch