Recently Joseph Howard “Tre” Johnson III realized that the mission of Ephesus Drumline could be simply stated, “We march to a Christian beat.” So as Captain of the youth drumline based at Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church of 3700 Midlothian Tnpk., he made the phrase their official motto.
Pride in their vision and steady work has rewarded the members of the Southside group, personally and as a whole: They were recently invited to perform in Washington D.C. as part of Barack Obama’s Inaugural events.
The gifted percussionists of Ephesus Drumline are each between the ages of 8 and 18. Their complete, stated purpose? “To share God’s Love through highly-spirited percussion and programming, while allowing the members to express themselves through highly-spirited routines.”
Brothers Matthew and Joe Johnson started the Drumline in 2003, which emerged from “The Pathfinders,” a youth group similar to the Scouts, where young members participate in earning honors, going camping, and more. From the Pathfinders, the Johnson brothers felt that many of the children and teens they met had extra energy that performance and percussion could address. Matthew, 28, began playing drums at age 6, graduated Huguenot High School, and has been a drumming instructor since 1994. Today he is a disciplined instructor teaching the choreography, and a charismatic performer with the Drumline. “Instead of being on the street, they have an outlet, to be in here and express themselves without getting in trouble,” says Matthew. “We’re building character. None of these people could play drums when they came in here.” To date, The Ephesus Drumline has participated in over 70 events and competitions.
Last summer, they won first place in an international competition in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin. With some help, they hope to defend Richmond’s victory this year, in Aug. of ‘09. But that’s going to take sponsors. Ephesus Drumline is busy working on getting them, and in addition to their appearance at the Freedom Classic Festival, they appeared on the CBS 6 morning show on Jan. 12.
Matthew empasizes his hopes: “Keep on supporting the youth. It doesn’t matter what their talent is, whether it’s dancing or singing, praising the Lord. Whatever it is, keep on supporting them and don’t let their spirits down.”
“We have been working hard to show that there are young people within the city limits who are doing things that are positive,” says Co-Founder Joe Johnson. “Our Drumline praise represents how we can spread God’s love in everything we do and have fun doing it.”
To contact the Ephesus Drumline, phone 426-2547.