By Erika Webb
The small sanctuary at Cornerstone Christian Community Church in Deltona was packed two days before Christmas. Lead pastor Kevin Key welcomed "the boys back home."
For their part, "the boys," contemporary Christian band All Things New, invited the congregation to dance and clap as they launched into their soon-to-be- released "Washed Over Me." The folksy foot stomper, rousing in its Appalachian dulcimer tones and three-part harmony, got worshippers fired up. After the service they confirmed they wanted more of All Things New, lining up to pre-order their album, "All Things New," due out in the spring.
The single "New Man" will be on the radio Jan. 18, lead singer Garrett Hornbuckle said.
All Things New signed in July with BEC Recordings, which has promoted many artists, including Jeremy Camp and Aaron Gillespie.
The band co-wrote their entire debut and worked with up and coming producers Jonathan Smith and Casey Brown with executive production by award-winning Jason Ingram, according to BEC's website.
Mr. Hornbuckle has the type of voice that has seduced rock-music lovers through the ages. It's a blend of rich and raspy, and when he prays during and between songs, it lowers to a reverent whisper.
"Come on, church, sing it like you mean it," he encouraged.
And they did.
The quartet's lyrics tell the combined stories of four journeys from the rigors of earthly clamors to heights of heavenly hope.
Mr. Hornbuckle, drummer Luke Wycuff, bassist Joshua Schou and guitarist Jeff Stein, all 21 or 22, were granted express passes to adulthood. Earrings, tattoos, contemporary clothing and hair make them relatable. The experiences they share so honestly render them trustworthy.
Mr. Hornbuckle was born in Nashville and moved to Deltona with his mother and sister, at the age of two, after his father -- a country music promoter -- left the family. His mother was pregnant with a third child, according to BEC's website.
A verbally abusive, emotionally absent stepfather also eventually left when Mr. Hornbuckle was 14. His biological father married a songwriter who wrote hits for Jessica Simpson and Sara Evans. That marriage, along with the creative influence it yielded, was short-lived.
By the time of his high-school graduation, Mr. Hornbuckle's mother was losing their home and his older sister was in prison for drug use, according to BEC's website.
He found a safe haven with Mr. Stein's family. He called life with the Steins a "testament" to the closeness of the band members.
"I think it's (the band's success) the support we have from our families, our local church and our faith in Christ," Mr. Hornbuckle said in a phone interview.
He said the band got its start doing "local outreach." They were part of Youth Explosion for Christ, Deltona businessman and Deltona Against Bullying founder Nick Pizza's music-centered organization, which offers kids positive alternatives to hanging out in the streets.
Mr. Pizza's assistant, Stephanie Stabile, said All Things New will put Deltona on the map with "such a good message to the kids in our community."
"No other band out of Deltona has been signed to a major record label, so I think that's really great," Mr. Hornbuckle said. "God opened up a lot of doors and put great people in our lives. We're so grateful."
Sparked by a youth pastor at Trinity Assembly of God in Deltona, Mr. Hornbuckle said his professional path and choice of genre evolved from his choir background and "stemmed from being in worship."
He attended Lavilla School of the Arts, a Jacksonville middle magnet school for the visual and performing arts, before attending high school in Deltona.
"Everything we do is to glorify Christ. What better than to do what you love for the one you love," Mr. Hornbuckle said.
Joshua Schou wrestled with drugs before joining the band, according to BEC's website.
"My entire life was centered around myself," he admitted. "I used to wake up and think: Who might have something that I want today?"
But before things progressed too far, Mr. Schou discovered a path of faith. And his about-face is reflected in the song "Greater Things."
Sometimes even solid faith is tested, as was the case with Luke Wycuff whose father lost his ministry job at the church he had started. There were leadership conflicts and mismanaged funds. The problems divided Mr. Wycuff's family as some of his siblings remained in the church while others didn't, according to BEC's website.
Mr. Wycuff is quoted as saying, "My dad was so hurt. He's my spiritual and musical mentor, and I thought if this is what church is about then I don't want to be part of it. I let the devil creep in and speak lies."
An invitation from his brother to a worship conference was the conduit for Mr. Wycuff's ability to hear God once again. His father's position with the church was restored, and All Things New was on the verge.
Mr. Wycuff contributed to the lyrics of "New Man" after reading Isaiah 61:3: "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."
Jeff Stein named the group, according to BEC's website, with 2 Corinthians 5:17 in mind: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!
It was Mr. Hornbuckle's dream to be part of a band worthy of landing a record deal, and he said he began to be the "driving force toward that goal."
Being on the road is notoriously difficult. Mr. Hornbuckle agreed "it can be tough" and tiring. He said he has a mentor with whom he talks on a weekly basis and he said Skype and FaceTime ease the loneliness. So does having each other.
"We all get along, he said of the band. "We're best friends and that makes it easier."
He said All Things New recently wrapped up a West Coast radio tour and returned, just prior to Christmas, from a Florida tour.
In February, the band is scheduled to tour with the well-known Christian rock band, Newsboys, whose hit song "He Reigns" was adopted by many churches after its release in 2003.
"It's a huge honor," Mr. Hornbuckle said. "These guys have been doing this for like 30 years."
At the pre-Christmas service, Pastor Key announced the church would contribute $1,000 of the $10,000 the band needs for a van and the requisite touring insurance. The four band members also are raising funds through memorabilia and album sales.
Today Mr. Hornbuckle is in contact with both parents and former stepparents. He has hope for his sister, who is now in rehab, according to BEC's website.
At the conclusion of the service -- on her birthday -- a six-year-old girl named Megan prepared to be baptized. She dutifully repeated after the pastor, claiming Christ as her savior. Tears streamed down her parents' faces.
All Things New quietly returned to the stage and began to play "New Man."
"It doesn't matter what you or I have been through," Mr. Hornbuckle explained in the band's biographical release. "In Christ you are worthy and you are whole."