BROOKSVILLE — Whether he's singing in concert with his wife, Ginger, pastoring a church or serving on the mission field, the Rev. Ken McLellan is all about bringing hope to people. He plans to do that during a concert Sunday at Faith Fellowship Church.
"Most of what we do is encourage people that are discouraged," Ken McLellan said. "We use a lot of songs that talk about difficulties and problems, but that also give the answer to those problems."
One fan favorite is almost always God on the Mountain, sung by Ginger.
"The God of the mountain is also the God of the valley," Ginger said. "He never changes. He's always the same whether we're on the mountain or in the valley, and he's always there for us."
"We kind of challenge folks with whatever the message of the song is that we're doing," Ken said. "It's Southern gospel style and a combination of solos and duets."
Ginger, an alto, sings lead while Ken, a baritone, sings harmony.
Both of the McLellans have worn several ministry hats. Ken has pastored churches in Canada, where he was born, and in the northeastern United States. He recently completed a term as pastor of Paola Wesleyan Church in Sanford. He began preaching in 1949, when he was 15.
"I suppose Billy Graham was very much responsible for it," Ken said about entering the ministry. "I was always at Youth for Christ on Saturday nights, and Billy Graham, at that time, before he ever had his crusades, was one of our speakers fairly often."
Ken also heard Graham speak at teen meetings at his home church in Toronto.
"So it was very much because of challenges that he put out in his ministry that I responded to and wanted to serve the Lord," Ken said, "although I had told my mother and grandmother when I was 10 years old that I would be a missionary."
While singing for the youth group of his church, Ken was asked by a husband and wife, who had been singing duets, to join them and sing as a trio, giving concerts in the area. They became known as the Canadian Viscounts, which eventually became an all-male quartet that made the first live concert album ever recorded in Canada and won four Canadian Gospel Music Awards.
Ginger had become interested in ministry when she was in her 20s.
"I was brought up in a Christian home, but I never knew about being born again or how to serve the Lord until I was about 24, and I came to know the Lord in a little country church," she said. "From that point on, I never looked back."
By 1984, Ken had begun missions work, so he left the Viscounts and began traveling back and forth to Pakistan, and later to Haiti.
The couple met when Ken was a widower who had become pastor of missions at Ginger's church in Bangor, Maine. She went along as a team member on one of the missions trips and then another.
"Eventually, we ended up getting married (in 1992)," Ginger said. "I'd always been active in church, taught Sunday school and ladies ministries, and had sung a lot of solos over the years. I always thought it would be wonderful to be in full-time ministry."
Though much of their time now is devoted to ministry in Florida, where they moved in 1993, the couple continues to travel to Haiti. Ken serves as president and CEO of To the World with Love Inc., a missions organization to Haiti that serves 49 indigenous churches, an orphanage and several schools. He holds teaching seminars for the pastors there several times a year and educates and encourages them in the word of God.
Ginger ministers alongside her husband and operates the office of the missions organization, including producing monthly newsletters for its partners and friends.
The McLellans have performed concerts in churches from Nova Scotia down the east coast of the United States, including one last week in Hudson. Now the Brooksville couple is seeking bookings in churches and groups around the Hernando County area.
"One of the songs we sing is The Old Country Church," Ken said, noting that some pastors are concerned that their churches might be too small to host the singers. "I use that song to point out that we're not looking to sing at the Taj Mahal or anything like that. The country church is our style. I want people to know there is no such thing as too small a group."
Adds Ginger: "We don't go with a price tag, and we don't care whether we sing to 10 people or 1,000 people. It makes no difference to us. We want to minister what God wants us to minister in song to the people that come.
"And," she adds with a laugh, "we're very good."