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Jeff Somers – Alumni Success Story

June 25, 2024

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Jeff Somers – Alumni Success Story

Throughout the year, we feature Crandall alumni by sharing their stories. Alumni Success Stories usually check in with an alum who’s been away from Crandall for a while. These stories highlight some major milestones in the lives of alumni after leaving Crandall and give space for them to talk about how their time at Crandall influenced their lives during and after their studies.

Today’s Alumni Success Story Jeff Somers, who graduated in 2000 with a BA in Communication Studies.

Jeff Somers

BA in Communication Studies, Class of ’00

My life has been marked by music and worship leading and my time at Crandall brought this into focus for me. I have been leading worship at the local church level in some capacity for almost 25 years, which seems unfathomable to me as I type it.

I was part of the leadership team for a monthly young adult worship gathering called “The Spot” which initially grew out of my time at Crandall. It went on to run monthly for 10 years from 2000 to 2010, being hosted by several different churches across the city and across denominations. The team and band that grew out of that event saw many opportunities to play and lead worship across the continent, from the east coast to Vancouver to Texas and back. I have many fond memories of those days, both from trips to serve small rural churches across the Maritimes, to being on the bill at large U.S. festivals like Kingdom Bound and SoulFest and many in between.

The consistent current behind it all for the last quarter century, however, has been my connection to local church worship leading. I started as a volunteer at Lewisville Baptist in Moncton under Crandall alum Gordon MacLeod (‘76) in 2000. I took a job at a church in Vancouver shortly thereafter but eventually returned home to rejoin the team at Lewisville, where I have been ever since.

Crandall played a role in shaping who I am by offering space to explore my gifting. There were lots of classes to take and things to learn, but most important for me was the time and space amongst peers, faculty, and staff, to watch, listen, learn, try things, fail, succeed, and ultimately, grow in the time spent there.

More specifically, for me, it is the place I began to figure out what I believe I am called to do. I was a drummer in a band all through my teen years, and was not sure what life without “a regular gig” in music looked like. I did not get involved at Crandall for my first couple of years, but by my third year, I felt ready to try this worship team thing – and maybe this time with a guitar and my voice. Dannie Brown and Dennis Bustin were kind enough to give me the space to step in and try it, and 25 years later here I am. I didn’t have a plan, and most days I still feel like I will one day have to decide what I want to be when I grow up, but have always resonated with Eric Liddell’s quote from Chariots of Fire, when he says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” I am not fast by any means, but when I lead worship, I feel God’s pleasure, and that is about all I know so far.

In 2008, I married Andrea and we have two kids, Rowan (11) and Avery (8). One part of my story that I did not see coming was “Children’s Book Author.” How that came about was because of something else I did not see coming, becoming a father to an amazing young lady who happens to be living with Cerebral Palsy. For Avery, this just means that things involving the right side of her body (hand, foot) are a little harder to manage than for others. One of the interventions that helps in that regard is a brace she wears on her foot and ankle that we have always called, “Avery’s Special Shoe.”

When she got to the age where she was going to be starting school, Andrea and I were trying to help equip her with the tools to own her story and manage the questions some of her new friends might have. We have always loved finding books to read together to help us learn important things about growing up, but in this case, we could not find anything that fit. So I decided to write one. I had always made up silly stories and songs to tell the kids at bedtime, so I thought I’d try my hand at this. When it was finished and I shared it with some close friends and family, it became apparent that there might be some value to sharing this story with others. I approached a local musician and artist who I have always admired, Meaghan Smith, to gauge her interest in being part of the process. Thankfully, for us, she was an immediate and enthusiastic “yes” and has been a big part of the project since day one. Fast forward to spring of 2023 and I found myself sitting at Chapters in Moncton alongside Meaghan and Avery as we held a book launch and signing event for Avery and the Special Shoe.

Since then we have had opportunities to visit a number of schools and daycares, clinics, and even participate in a district-wide literacy event and read our book for almost 2000 students, teachers and early childhood educators. On June 11th I received the Dr. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell Award for Literacy in the category of published Author. This award was presented by the Lieutenant Governor Brenda Murphy and the New Brunswick Literacy Coalition. Ultimately, it has been a fun experience to try something completely new, to see folks connect with it and see other kids like Avery find themselves on the pages of a book. Most of all, Avery is very proud of it and it has helped set the tone for her journey in many ways, which is the best part of it all for me. Now my only challenge is that her brother is ready for his book next, so I have some work ahead of me!

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