Gospel jazz part of local businessman's music ministry

You don’t often see an accountant directing the music at a church service. But Wellington-based accountant Bobby Brannock said his involvement with Plymouth 3.0, a casual, alternative service held every Sunday night at Plymouth Congregational Church in Fort Collins, is a “big part of who I am.”

A church musician for more than 20 years, Brannock is in charge of the music for this 6 p.m. service, which is dubbed 3.0 because it’s Plymouth Congregational’s third service on Sundays. Brannock’s music selections are wide ranging—from folk, Celtic and bluegrass to gospel jazz complete with a drummer, bass and sax player.

Sometimes Brannock arranges traditional hymns; other times he chooses from secular music. But he says his playlist is much more than simply entertainment. He views selecting the music and organizing the musicians as spiritual work and part of his music ministry.

Brannock’s specialty is gospel jazz. He fell in love with jazz when he was in college, and has enjoyed watching it become an important part of many church services. Two years ago, Plymouth Congregational sent him to a symposium in Cleveland that focused on incorporating jazz into church services.

The Plymouth 3.0 service attracts a growing number of people of all ages, including college students. While the service has traditional elements such as a sermon, communion and community singing, the atmosphere is strictly casual. Worshippers wear t-shirts and jeans, and clergy members set aside their robes and stoles. The service might feature a talk-back sermon, lots of dialogue with attendants and, occasionally, a video followed by a discussion.

While Brannock embraces the alternative nature of the Plymouth 3.0 service, his attire is a little more buttoned-down. “I dress up and wear a tie every day when I work,” he said. But he doesn’t mention the high-top red sneakers peeking out from his dress pants.

Church music has always been a part of Brannock’s life. His mother was an organist at a non-denominational Christian church the family attended, and he brought that early experience with him when he came to Colorado to study at Colorado State University.

Brannock had already earned a degree in arts administration from the University of Kentucky, and planned to get a second degree at CSU in recreational resources. But he was introduced to accounting at CSU and became so interested in it that he took the classes he needed to pass the CPA exam.

Meanwhile, he served as director of musicians for Abyssinian Christian Church in Fort Collins, a position he held for 12 years. “We always had a band, and services ran as along as two hours. Sometimes it wore me out!” he said. But the job also gave him ample opportunity to immerse himself in jazz.

Brannock joined Plymouth Congregational Church in 1993. In addition to his work with Plymouth 3.0, he serves as accompanist for the morning church services several times a year.

After graduating from CSU, Brannock worked as an accountant for several local firms for many years. But sitting at a desk for eight hours a day began to disagree with him. So Brannock started his own accounting business, which had an unexpected upside—it allowed him to combine his love of music with his accounting career.

Brannock has an office in what was once a hotel on the main street in Wellington, where he handles the tax and accounting needs of several Wellington and Fort Collins businesses. Although the office is small, it has room for the essentials—a desk and a grand piano.

Brannock gives piano lessons to students of all ages, and has the flexibility to move seamlessly from one profession to the other. He admits that his schedule keeps him hopping, but he is still able to accompany the Wellington Middle School choir every afternoon during its practice sessions.

Brannock lived in Wellington for many years and says the town still feels like home. He belongs to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street program. But to accommodate his work in both Wellington and Fort Collins, he now lives between the two cities.

Brannock, who has three children from his first marriage, and a 2-year-old and a baby on the way from his second marriage, doesn’t expect his life or his work schedule to slow down any time soon. But he’s thankful he has been able to build a career doing two things he feels passionate about.

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