New Mexico, Wyoming Worship Leaders Join Forces for Convention 2021
By Carl Stagner
Two young men, two very different backgrounds, yet one calling—to worship God and lead others in worship. Michael Romero and James Hume couldn’t be more excited to partner together as worship leaders for Convention 2021 in Colorado’s capital city, June 26–29 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. On the heels of a year marked by social separation, the Church of God movement is also eager to join voices heavenward in person and online, under the leadership of these gifted pastors. While much of the Church of God is already acquainted with them, many may not yet be familiar with Michael Romero and James Hume. A closer look at the hearts behind these brothers in Christ is sure to stoke the fires of anticipation for our meeting in the Mile-High City.
Michael Romero was influenced early in his life by traditional Mexican musical stylings. Mariachi had the greatest impact on him, though Tejano and Norteño flavors have also contributed to his musical approach to this day. The son of a fifth-generation New Mexican father and a Mexican immigrant mother, Michael grew up in the South Valley of Albuquerque, a densely populated area of Hispanics and Mexican-Americans. He reflects, “I absolutely still love the music and my heritage that it represents. I’m a very proud Mexican/American. From time to time, I’ll still take a gig with some buddies to keep up my chops and really to just hang with my friends that I don’t get to see as much.”
Such a rich and diverse musical heritage manifests in subtle ways even when he leads worship for New Beginnings Church of God, the congregation he serves alongside Pastor Richard Mansfield. “Being that Mariachi music doesn’t have any drums, I learned that we make our own drums,” Michael explains. “So, when I play acoustic guitar (even if I have a drummer) I play rhythmically, as if I am playing drums on the AG, as opposed to the standard strumming pattern. The other thing is that singing in a Mariachi group, you don’t use microphones.” Michael quips, “So, I project really loudly and can hold notes for a long time!”
Michael Romero came to the Movement through the ministry of Southside Church of God in Albuquerque before it became the New Beginnings Church of God known today for its extensive impact on the community and a recent move to an empty storefront to accommodate growth. To see such growth and life-change firsthand has been “one of the greatest joys” of his life.
Eleven hours due north, James Hume has been growing an incredible worship ministry at Highland Park Church of God. The Casper congregation has a long history of international impact, but over the past six years their worship team has attained new heights of excellence under James’s unique abilities to bring out the best in everyone. Some may know his father-in-law Paul Dreger, whose longtime leadership in the Church of God, including as the director of SHAPE for Church of God Ministries, continues to propel the Movement forward. The story, however, of how James left the Midwest for the wide-open spaces and blue skies of Wyoming, is what truly inspires.
“I have absolutely loved serving at Highland Park Community Church,” James reflects. “The people of Wyoming are incredibly warm, welcoming, and generous. One of my favorite traits of this beautiful state is that the sun is almost always shining. As someone that struggles with depression, sunshine is a necessity for me! Furthermore, the staff culture at our church in incredibly healthy, and our lead pastor Mike Fackler is the most exceptional leader I have ever worked under. Six years ago, when Highland Park Community Church was looking for a worship pastor, Mike contacted me and my initial response was, “No way!” Thankfully, we [ultimately] said yes, and we haven’t looked back.
Over the past year, in the midst of pandemic shutdowns and fears, God led James to expand his ministry via a YouTube channel he’d originally created to stay connected with his worship team amid COVID-19. His music, interspersed with personal testimony about his own struggles, in addition to lighthearted moments with his family, has proved encouraging to many viewers since. With pandemic restrictions lifting and the opportunity to meet again with the saints this June in Denver, James is anticipating what God will do.
“It is such an honor and privilege to be a part of leading worship for Convention 2021,” he explains. “I get so excited whenever a body of believers join together, whether in person or online, for the express purpose of showering our heavenly Father with adoration and praise. What makes Convention particularly special is the collection of leaders from far and wide to pray, learn, strategize, and unite for the common purpose of God’s people. In the past, I’ve been able to attend numerous conventions as well as having been invited to lead a few ‘special’ songs here and there. This time around it will be the first chance I’ve had to lead worship for all the sessions at Convention, which my team and I are really looking forward to!”
Along with James and the Highland Park worship team, Michael Romero can’t wait to be in Denver this June. He recounts the amazing experience in worship he had at Convention 2015 in Oklahoma City, wondering about the future. “I remember saying to myself, ‘One day I hope to serve this Movement up there.’ Well, here we are! The Lord is faithful!”
Reflecting up on the theme of Convention 2021, “Hunger and Thirst. For Justice. For Righteousness. For Jesus.” Michael rejoices, “Jesus called for all of those. In today’s world, it’s of the upmost importance to hunger and thirst all three, most especially Jesus.” James adds, “There’s an old song that we used to sing with a lyric that says to the Lord, ‘Break my heart for what breaks yours,’ and that stark truth is searing to me. It points out my own callousness and apathy toward those for whom Jesus is passionate. May God stir up within all of us a true hunger and thirst for justice, for righteousness, and for Jesus!”
One of Michael’s favorite worship songs is “More Like Jesus” (Passion). Two of his favorite classic hymns are “It is Well with My Soul” and “My Savior’s Love.” James is really moved by the modern worship song titled “Yes, I Will” (Vertical Worship) and appreciates the powerful lyrics of the classic hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Speaker bios, schedule, hotel details, and more information about this historic hybrid event—offering in-person and online options—are available at www.chogconvention.org. Convention 2021 & General Assembly are approaching fast! Register today and look forward to joining Michael Romero, James Hume, and the team from Highland Park Community Church for a wonderful time of worship, June 26–29.