In Conway: Growing up on faith

From a very young age, Denise was already singing in the choir and speaking in Sunday school. She remembers fondly how she practiced repeatedly in her parents’ living room before giving her very first “speech” in Sunday school, around age 5.

With these common backgrounds, it seems only too fitting that the two met in church. The story goes something like this: Denise’s church choir was one of several scheduled to sing in the musical at Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Conway. She was running late, so the church was packed when she arrived. She spied a spot and asked if it was taken. Though she didn’t know the man she’d sat down beside, he knew who she was. Her mother had been his geography teacher at one time. Before and after her choir’s performance, Denise and Chris chatted easily with one another. He asked for her number when the musical ended, and as they say, “the rest is history.”

Chris and Denise Perry have been married for five years now. They attend and are very active in Mount Gale Baptist Church in Conway, where

Chris was already working and worshipping at the time they met. Also active in the church is their 4-year-old son, Jeremiah. Following in his parents’ footsteps, Jeremiah has been singing in the Pastor’s Choir for two years. Yes, he started at age 2.

On the role of faith in their life and marriage, Denise explains, “It plays a huge role. That was one thing that attracted me to him, how he was so involved in church.” She goes on to describe how they both wanted to seek premarital counseling, and she knew it was a good sign that

Chris shared her desire for the counseling. Both credit that process in preparing them for a marriage based on faith.
While taking their son down the path they too walked, Chris and Denise continue to share their love for worship, and both are involved in many aspects of church life. Chris is the minister of music, which means he directs all five of Mount Gale’s choirs in addition to playing the keyboard and organ during services. Denise sings in the Mass Choir, works in the nursery and is the director of the women’s ministry: Women Striving for Excellence.

Though he did have lessons for a while, Chris plays mostly by ear. He has participated in two recordings, one on a Marvin Williams and Friends 2009 Christmas CD “Prince of Peace,” and the other on a CD done by Middle Western District, an association of churches. The Middle Western District CD contains all original works, including two songs that Chris wrote.

In addition to his regular work with Mount Gale, Chris plays and sings at weddings and funerals, and leads two-day choir workshops for other congregations.

When not directing choirs or playing music, Chris is a residential care technician at the Conway Human Development Center. A member of Conway Young Professionals and the Faulkner County Board of Realtors, Denise is a fourth-grade teacher at Ellen Smith Elementary and also a real-estate agent for Sandstone Real Estate Group.

During their 501 interview, both recalled singing “Sign Me Up” in their youth choirs. Their laughter at that separate but similar memory was contagious. Denise sang a couple of bars, and Chris shook his head while grinning happily..

It’s obvious they loved growing up in the church and are thrilled to still be growing in faith, together.