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Lehighton area pastor releases music album

Jennifer Eckhart always knew God had a mission for her.

Growing up, the Lehighton area woman heard His whisper in the breeze that softly blew through the trees and felt His love in the warmth of the sun.

She listened to His message in the thunder rumbles during spring showers and saw His words in the changing leaves every fall.

These signs all led her in life to become a pastor at Blue Mountain Community Church, a position she has held since 2008, and guided her to use her talent of singing to spread God’s word through her new album.

On Nov. 1, Eckhart and her band Stained Glass Road released her first CD, “Faithful,” a 12-song album that was nearly two decades in the making.

“The inspiration for this album is simply, God’s faithfulness,” Eckhart said when asked about the meaning behind the album. “Life is filled with broken pieces - moments of loss, confusion, discouragement, pain and things that just don’t make sense, but when we look back on the story of our lives in the light of God’s grace, we will see that He makes a work of art from the brokenness.

“Truly, you are a masterpiece, that’s what God wants people to know. He loves them and they matter to Him.”

God calls to his child

Eckhart said her favorite song as a child was “Jesus Loves Me,” and she felt God wanted her to share that message with others.

In 2003, after writing a few songs of her own, she and her father began recording some original pieces, but the project stalled.

In 2008, Eckhart began recording again, this time with a friend, Jim Huffman, in his studio.

But God said her work was not ready, and somehow, everything the two had recorded was erased.

A few years later, Eckhart’s journey to record her songs began a third time but God again intervened, this time with the adoption of her daughter, Bella, in 2013 and later, in 2018, with the death of Huffman.

“I thought that I was finished and it just wasn’t meant to be,” Eckhart said. “After three tries, I didn’t want to try again. But, it wouldn’t let me go. I kept feeling like I needed to try one more time.”

The Lord says ‘I will never leave you’

“Every Jan. 1, I write down goals for that year,” Eckhart added. “I’ve been doing this since 2007. Every year, I write, ‘Finish a CD of original songs.’?”

In early 2019, God listened to Eckhart’s heart and led her to Gary Wehrkamp of New Horizon Music Studios in Stroudsburg. The two began a collaboration on her project shortly after that.

Eckhart and her band, consisting of Nathan Peiffer, Jessica Neal, Hank Brosky, Brian Blose, Alicia Klotz, Jeff Russ, Gary Wehrkamp, Sarah Weaber and Jeanine Loubier, got to work on new songs and began recording at Wehrkamp’s studio. Three hundred and 16 studio hours and 2,250 miles traveled later, their vision and hard work was complete.

“My personal favorite (song) is my newest, ‘You Sing to Me,’ she said. “It’s based on Zephaniah 3:17. In 2018, I was going through a time of grief. Grief comes in many forms and can happen due to a death, a loss of any kind or a big change. All of these things were happening at that time for me and I couldn’t even put into words how I was feeling. I thought the darkness would at least bring a sad song.

“With that concept in mind, I wrote the lines, ‘I thought the night wouldn’t last this long. The quiet of this darkness just begs a song. When I don’t have a song to sing, You are singing over me. When I’m lost for a melody, You sing to me.’

“My favorite part is that my dad plays the lead guitars on this one. He and I started together in 2003, and now we were back in the studio 17 years later. I love how God brings things full circle.”

A strong support system

Eckhart credits her husband, Cliff, who is also a pastor at Blue Mountain Community Church, and their daughter, Bella, for helping to make her dream a reality.

“They were patient while I was at the studio many times over the last year and a half,” she said.

She also thanked her friends, family and congregation for supporting her throughout this 17-year journey and for those who helped make “Faithful” come to life.

“As exciting as it is to have this CD finally finished, the road was difficult,” Eckhart said. “It was a true test of endurance, patience and perseverance. Many tears were shed as time went by, but there were so many joyous moments in the journey.

“This concept inspired the name of the band, ‘Stained Glass Road.’ It’s really not about the product but the process. There is joy in the journey!

“I used to think that the theme of my life was, ‘wait’ but I realize that the theme of all of our lives, if we allow Him to do it, is ‘God is faithful.’”

CDs and MP3 downloads of “Faithful” are now available for purchase at www.jenniferkeckhart.com. Copies are also available for purchase at Jenny’s Sweets and More and Beautiful Hidden Treasures in Lehighton or on cdbaby.com.

Members of Jennifer Eckhart and Stained Glass Road are, from left, Hank Brosky, Alicia Klotz, Nathan Peiffer, Jennifer Eckhart, Jeff Russ and Jessica Neal. The band recently released the album “Faithful.” PHOTO BY TIFFANY LOBACH
The cover of “Faithful” was designed by Jim Thorpe artist Maggie Lukasevich.