ARLINGTON, TX—The second worship service at Grace Community Church on Sunday morning was all going according to plan, until one slip of a guitarist’s foot sent the whole worship band off the rails. “I play in a band with some friends,” guitarist Greg Johnson explains, “and I use the same pedal board with them as I do for church. I was reaching for the Memory Man, but my foot slipped and accidentally hit the Metal Muff instead. When I heard that sweet, crunchy, distorted tone, I just couldn’t stop myself—I had to shred.”
Witnesses say the incident happened just after the eighth chorus of Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God,” the song that was intended to lead into the sermon.
“I didn’t really know what was happening,” says Alicia White, who was only four rows back when the song veered off course. “Suddenly my head just started bobbing with the beat of the music, and before I realized what I was doing, I was full-on headbanging. I’ve still got a headache.”
The worship leader, Tim Short, was also caught off guard by the sudden, unprovoked explosion of riffs. “I was ready to go into the a-capella chorus, but the guitar solo just didn’t stop. If anything, it kept getting more intense. I looked over at Greg and he looked like he was in another world. I could tell I wasn’t going to get the song back any time soon.”
Shawn Robertson, who was playing drums, adapted to the situation. “Tim looked over at me, and I could see how confused he was. Then I looked over at [bassist] Annie [Holm], and she was straight-up windmilling over there. So I figured I might as well go along with it. Why would the church drum kit even have a double kick pedal if not for such a time as this?”
According to reports, that was when things really got out of hand. “I saw the mosh pit coming for me, and there was nothing I could do—I was just swept up in this turbulent wave of people, pushing and shoving and bouncing off of each other,” says Jim Schmidt, an elder at the church for the past nine years. “It was terrifying, but at the same time, strangely invigorating.”
Several members of the congregation reported seeing visions, including Diane Dowdy, the church secretary, who claims to have seen “the spirit of Randy Rhoads descending on Greg in a form like a headless bat.” Asked if she could have been mistaken, she replied, “I had a good view of the stage. I usually sit at the back of the auditorium, but somehow I managed to crowd-surf my way to the front.”
Bassist Annie Holm could not be reached for comment, as she is currently in the hospital recovering from neck injuries.