Kate Miner is music director at Munger Place Church, and she is a musician with a long and successful career as a songwriter, performer and recording artist. Her most famous album, “Live from the Strip”, was released in 1999, but she has recorded a total of seven albums since 1994. As a member of the Malibu Vineyard Christian Fellowship church in her native California, Miner discovered her talent for leading worship, and she became internationally known for her unique style of worship music. Her life changed dramatically almost five years ago, when she was excommunicated from a Christian church in North Texas because, as she puts it, she “failed at marriage”. The divorce left her financially ruined and living in a 500-square-foot apartment near DFW Airport. She says the experience brought her closer to God than ever before.
How did you get involved with the Munger Place Church?
Pastor Paul Rasmussen knew about me six or seven years ago, and I’ve just been on his radar since then. When it came time for him to staff the church for music, he asked me, and I said, “Hell no.”
You really said that?
Yes. I totally loved God, but I totally hated people at church. He kept working on me, though, and every few weeks, he would call me and say, “Change your mind yet?” Finally, I said, “Fine. I’ll have a meeting with you, but I’m going to do all the talking.” So I went in and told him my story, my experience with church, how I had been excommunicated. And when I got to the end of the story, he said, “OK. Do you want the job?” I told him, “No,” but he took me down to Munger Place. And at the time, it was a hot mess. There was no air. There was no heat. It was in really sad shape. I walked in there, and this sounds really stupid, but I just took one big breath through my nose and said, “This is it. I’m home.” I have four kids, and two still live at home. So we moved from the Grapevine area to Lakewood, and we feel like we’re at home here.
You’re from Los Angeles, right?
I’m from San Diego, and for six years, I had been trying to get back home to San Diego. But I had not yet decided which bridge I would like to live under, because that’s the only way you can move back to San Diego, right? But now I feel like I’m home. We’re averaging about 450 people in church every Sunday. It’s amazing.
Tell us a little bit about your music career.
I had my season of being the darling of (music publishing association) ASCAP. In 1992, I was named Female Acoustic Artist of the Year by the National Academy of Songwriters. I was pursuing all that and doing a really good job. I was in my 20s, and it was all going really great. I was going to church in Malibu, at the Malibu Vineyard, which is nondenominational. I was raised Baptist, so it gave me a different idea of what church could be like. I ended up leading worship there, but I didn’t know enough to take what I was doing in the clubs and clean it up and make it churchy. So we ended up having a church whose music was really just rock-n-roll. And it created a movement. This was 18 or 20 years ago. I ended up doing a record there with that congregation. We actually recorded it at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. It’s called “Live from the Strip”. That record took me around the world three or four times. It’s just rock-n-roll, and it’s still my most successful record.
Tell us about what you do at Munger Place.
You know, we’re a satellite church of Highland Park United Methodist Church. But we’re the people that have the fun and break the rules and sort of color outside the lines. The idea that you have to compartmentalize your spiritual self from the rest of your life is not how we’re wired. But that’s how mainstream church expects you to act. At Munger Place, we want to provide a place where people can come as they are and have an experience with God. I try to write songs that express my real life experiences. A lot of Christian music is about being born again, and that really excludes a lot of people. So I write songs that have broader appeal and don’t exclude people.
So what kind of music do you play?
At church this Sunday, we did a song from The Call, that great ’80’s band. We were slated to do Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”, but my son actually fainted in church, and we didn’t get to that one. We’ve done Nirvana; Earth, Wind & Fire; the Beatles. I don’t change the lyrics to songs, but I think there are songs like “Got to Get You Into My Life” that just make you happy you rolled out of bed. Paul Rasmussen wants to deliver the same message but in the context of that community. What they do at Highland Park UMC beautifully serves that community. And what we’re doing at Munger beautifully serves East Dallas. There will be more satellite churches that pop up, and they will be communicated in a way that fits their community.
What’s next for you?
At Munger Place, we’re really involved in the community. For the White Rock Lake Centennial, on June 26, we’re doing a church service at the Bath House (Cultural Center). There’s a breakfast and a whole big deal. Besides that, I want to make a record of old country standards. Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, I love singing that stuff. I’m thinking about doing a live recording of it at Munger one night.
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