Ken Mays at Rebuilt Steinway Dedication in 2007
by Stephanie (Cox) Demorest g93, Fort Wayne Alumni Center Director
The past couple of years have been very difficult for most of us. Living in the age of COVID-19 has brought new challenges many of us never anticipated. But no matter what events chronological time (chronos) brings our way, the Scriptures exhort us to mind the opportune times (chairos) – cf. Ephesians 5:15-20. During this COVID time, Dr. Ken Mays has modeled how to make the most of every opportunity.
Education and Career
Dr. Kenneth Mays graduated from Fort Wayne Bible College in 1960. From there, he went on to earn his Master of Music degree from Indiana University in 1961. He immediately returned to teach at Fort Wayne Bible College from 1961 to 1964. Then, he went back to IU Bloomington for his PhD in Music Education. Ken finished his dissertation and earned his doctorate while he began teaching at Wheaton College Conservatory in 1967. He remained at Wheaton until 1986, when he transferred to the Master’s College (now the Master’s University) in Newhall, CA, for the remainder of his teaching career. At the Master’s College, he served as head of the Music Department while actively teaching. In May 2020, Ken retired completely, having spent the previous 16 years instructing piano.
A natural love for music, and specifically piano, grew in Ken’s heart from an early age, and he began serving as a church pianist when he was just 11 years old. While a student at FWBC, Ken traveled with the Crusader’s Quartet (cf. photo below), as their piano accompanist. During his time at the college, Ken was influenced greatly by Drs. Ira Gerig and René Frank. Ken stated recently in an interview that Ira Gerig demonstrated “a heart for the Lord and a heart for the person.” Dr. Gerig loved Jesus, then people, and then teaching. He showed Ken how to practice music correctly and modeled how to teach it. Adding to this instruction, Dr. René Frank imparted “firm care” to his students: he empathized with his students’ concerns but required that they consider their study of music seriously. Ken asserts that both men shaped him into a godly teacher in ways that he never would have benefitted from anyone else. Ken’s devotion to music ministry and teaching, fostered through his years at FWBC, has continued throughout his life: he has faithfully served as a part-time minister of music and choir director in local churches alongside his 56-year college teaching career.
1959 Crusaders Quartet: Ken Mays, Paul Brennan, Paul Robbins, TA Strader, and Edwin Terui
After his retirement in the Spring 2020, Ken devoted himself to writing new arrangements of several traditional church hymns. No longer teaching and finding himself homebound due to COVID, Ken took advantage of the time to preserve and prepare these hymns for use by future generations. Many churches today have chosen to neglect the hymns as well as the piano in their musical worship. Ken knows that God has called him to keep these hymns alive in the church. So, in addition to the 11 hymn arrangements he now calls the “COVID Canticles,” he is steadily working on another 10 hymns to complete this collection. His passion is to keep writing and sharing the background of these hymns with churches. In recent days, as travel has become more feasible, Ken has been journeying from his California home to share his music. His hope is to spend his days ahead travelling, writing music, and writing a book for which he has had an idea for a long time now.
While in the Fort Wayne area the third weekend of September, Dr. Mays will host two Hymn Sing events! The first will be held at First Missionary Church, sponsored by the Fort Wayne Alumni Center. The second will be held at Northside Missionary Church, Dr. Mays’ home church!
September 18, 2021, Dr. Ken Mays Hymn Sing 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for an afternoon of music and fellowship on Saturday, September 18, 2021, at First Missionary Church, 701 W. Rudisill Blvd., Fort Wayne, Indiana, from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. No pre-registration is required for this event. Simply join us in the First Missionary Church Sanctuary to enjoy the musical talent of Dr. Ken Mays g60 as he plays and leads us in songs to worship our Lord. Parking is available in the lot behind the church, so you may enter through the double glass sliding doors at the back of the church on the lower level. Elevator access also will be available for those who need it. Admission is free; however, an offering will be taken to cover costs of facility use and to support the continuing ministry of your Fort Wayne Alumni Center. If you have questions regarding this special event, please do not hesitate to contact your Alumni Office Director, Stephanie Demorest, by phone at (260) 744-8790 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
September 19, 2021, Dr. Ken Mays Hymn Sing 6:00 p.m.
Dr. Ken Mays will lead a Hymn Sing at Northside Missionary Church in Fort Wayne on Sunday evening, Sept. 19, at 6:00 p.m. Dr. Mays will share the background of well-known hymns as well as perform them and invite those gathered to sing along on a verse or two of each. Northside Missionary Church is located at 736 Lillian Ave, Fort Wayne, IN 46808.