Build Instruments of Worship | WORLD
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PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Today is Thursday, May 26. We are delighted that you have joined us for The world and all in it.
Hello. I am Paul Butler.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next comes: a music craftsman.
There are many people who make musical instruments, but today we meet a man who, like the Psalmist, also encourages heart worship.
BUTLER: WORLD’s Myrna Brown is here with her story now and she says it all started with a dream, a dilapidated building and good old-fashioned tenacity.
HANK TEUTON: I meet a dozen new people every day, they come in and tell me what is this place? You live here? No… you can’t live here.
CORRESPONDENT MYRNA BROWN: Hank Teuton lives in the middle of the story. Its lounge once served as a baggage depot for the city’s first railroad depot.
HANK TEUTON: When it was open, there were 40 passenger trains every day. It was a bouncy place.
As passenger rail gave way to interstate travel, the luggage room, built in 1897, lay abandoned for decades until Teuton used his retirement savings to purchase it.
HANK TEUTON: It was exactly what I was looking for. What Betsy and I talked about…
Teuton’s late wife, Betsy, believed the retired Coast Guard officer would not only learn how to make guitars, but also one day teach others and create spaces for worship. Before retiring, Teuton spent three years learning to be a luthier, a string instrument maker.
HANK: When I was stationed in New Orleans, I met a man named Jimmy Foster. He was building seven-string arch-top jazz guitars. And I approached him and asked him if I could apprentice with him. He was tough at first, but eventually we became good friends and I spent about 20 hours a week at his store.
Teuton says his late wife also had ideas for finding the right place.
HANK: We’ll find an old flour mill or a fun place for students to hang out with you, and then you can do discipleship training there. And so, I fell in love with the building. I flew in from Philadelphia to watch it and made an offer that day.
THE AUDIO: [WALKING UP STAIRS]
AUDIO: What was that? It was eight offices, a rest room and two small bathrooms were here.
It took Teuton more than a year to tear down the walls, replace the floors and remodel its 19th-century baggage shed. Today he lives in the upper half of the historic building. The lower level is where he runs Baruch Guitars. This is where he says the real transformation happens. Baruch is Hebrew for blessing.
HANK: I make instruments of worship. Some of them are wooden and some of them are flesh. So the idea is to put worship in people’s hearts. So that they bless, “baruch” God.
Teuton welcomed its first two luthiers in 2019.
HANK: One was from South Africa and the other from Israel and they came on tourist visas and they spent three months with me and they each built a guitar and left with beautiful instruments.
65-year-old luthier Randy Anderson met Teuton at church.
RANDY ANDERSON: One day he invited me to the store, told me what he had done. It intrigued me and over a short period of time convinced me to start a guitar.
But during that first year, Teuton’s dream was threatened by a medical emergency.
HANK: We were coming back from a Friday morning prayer breakfast at church, and I said things weren’t feeling right, and I asked one of them to take me at Maxwell Airforce Base in the infirmary. They looked at me and told me you had to be in the hospital. And they did a bypass.
Teuton recovered, but then COVID hit and everything slowed down again. Unable to continue what he had started, 67-year-old Teuton changed his mind and began building instruments for local charities.
HANK: Raised a quarter million dollars. With this one guitar? With this one guitar.
Determined to carry on his late wife’s dream, he returned to teaching. Evan, 15, is a homeschooled student learning to sand a pickguard and thanks to Teuton he is able to recognize when the edges of his own life need to be ironed out.
HANK TO EVAN: Right now you’re sanding down all the flaws in that piece of wood so it sparkles and shines and just looks beautiful. How has God done this in your life? What was the sandpaper that got rid of the bumps and creases?
EVAN: Well, there’s a big thing that moves a lot because we’re military.
Randy Anderson is also back, showing off the handle Teuton encouraged him to create. Every position on this part of his guitar tells the story of Anderson’s 48 years of ministry.
RANDY ANDERSON: We served six years in a church in Joplin, Missouri, where my son was born, and then we went to New Mexico….
Working in his living room, listening to the familiar sound of freight trains crossing the tracks, Teuton hopes he will be just as resilient.
HANK: There are a number of things I want here. Whatever it is a place of worship. I wish there were worship teams here sharing with each other, cooperating, sharing worship songs and writing music together. So it’s one of my dreams.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Montgomery, Alabama.
REICHARD: If you’d like to see Hank Teuton in his studio, Myrna also dropped off a video report today on WORLD Watch. We’ve included a link in today’s transcript.
WORLD Radio transcriptions are created on very short notice. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative recording of WORLD Radio programming is the audio recording.