Moore sets a high bar for Musical Worship Chapel

February 02, 2021 / by / 1 Comment

Criston Moore of North Phoenix Baptist Church leads Chapel in worship Monday morning. (Photo by Matt Nykamp)

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

Criston Moore had been to Chapel at Grand Canyon University once before. It left quite an impression.

“I was really blown away,” the Worship Pastor at North Phoenix Baptist Church said. “I’d never seen anything like this before. It’s pretty amazing to see students lifting up the name of Jesus all together in unity. It’s a beautiful sight to see.”

Monday morning, it was Moore’s turn to share his talents with those students, and it was another beautiful sight to see … and hear. It was called Musical Worship Chapel, and the words in this story simply can’t do it justice. You can listen to the one hour of worship here.

Moore is, without doubt, a musical genius. That was apparent when he started playing the piano at age 4.

“I tell people all the time, it’s really just a God-given gift,” he said. “I just was able to hear something and start playing it.”

He is the ninth of 10 children in a musical family from Bakersfield, California. All 10 can play an instrument, his father sang in a quartet and his mother once sang soprano in the musical “Hair.”

Four years ago, Moore felt God’s tug to move from Bakersfield to Phoenix and join North Phoenix Baptist. That united him with Noe Garcia, the church’s pastor and a regular Chapel speaker.

When Garcia came to GCU Arena to deliver a Chapel talk, Moore tagged along. It was the beginning of a relationship that led him to speak to Worship Arts students’ songwriting class last February, and that gave GCU Recording Studio General Manager Eric Johnson an idea: Why not have Moore perform at Chapel?

They had met two years ago when Moore asked to record some choir parts for a Christmas production. “We became fast friends and have been working with each other ever since,” Johnson said.

He since has had Moore’s team in the studio several times over the last couple of years for Easter and Christmas services and for COVID-related pre-recording of services for online streaming. Johnson also has helped him record his original songs.

So it was only natural for Johnson to suggest to Jared Ulrich, Spiritual Life Worship Manager, that Moore come to Chapel, and Ulrich loved the idea. Monday, it was easy to see why.

“Criston led an incredible time of praise and worship for our students at Chapel,” Ulrich said. “Not only is he a gifted musician, but even more so he knows how to lead a room to create an atmosphere of spirit-filled praise. Our students were definitely blessed and encouraged.”

Throughout the one-hour performance, you couldn’t take your eyes off Moore’s skill. Song after song was performed with fervent intensity, especially the unforgettable renditions of old favorites “Here I Am to Worship,” “How Great is Our God” and “How Great Thou Art.”

With Amanda Riffe, who sang solo on “Here I Am to Worship,” and four other members of the all-student Worship team performing onstage alongside Moore, it made for a very different and very memorable Chapel.

Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and University Pastor, had begun the service by reading Psalm 100:1-5:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before Him with joyful songs.
 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is He who made us, and we are His;
    we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
    and His courts with praise;
    give thanks to Him and praise His name.
 For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
    His faithfulness continues through all generations.

This Chapel service certainly came before Him with joyful songs. Moore had begun by citing the first chapter of Genesis, when the atmosphere had to respond to God’s voice, and he closed with a moving song about the death of a beloved friend – a song he had shared with students at that songwriting class.

“Sometimes I wish I could see you again,” the song began.

His music Monday had listeners feeling the same way. 

● Next Monday’s Chapel speaker: Jon Demeter, Redemption Church


The Gathering hasn’t been able to meet in Antelope Gym this academic year because of the pandemic, but the Spiritual Life team is introducing two new venues for Tuesday night worship.

The first Worship Night is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. Feb. 2 on the Quad, and @ the Church with Pastor Tim is set for 7-8 p.m. Feb. 9 at the 31st Avenue and Camelback Road facility.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Chapel to feature reunions with speakers from past

GCU Today: Mackey links humility, prayer with story of Uzziah

GCU Today: Griffin centers Chapel talk on shifting margins

GCU Today: Chapel: Don’t pass up lessons from life’s offenses


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One Response
  1. Harry Feyer

    Truly gifted, or should I say a Gift from God for Criston Moore to relay His message to the students both in person and those of us that are connected via the internet. Thank you for haring this experience with us all.

    Feb.22.2021 at 7:16 pm
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