By: Katie Sobiech
As her musicals continued to succeed, Sharon Dobbins Alberson was able to give more financially to local charities. Over the last 20 years they have raised a quarter of a million dollars putting on musicals.
“Faith in Action”, a national organization that has chapters all over the United States, is one charity that has greatly benefited. They help homebound and isolated members of the community get services and help.
“We give it all. Everything is given away. I felt ‘You don’t get paid for this. This is your gig for God’,” Alberson said.
Other charities they have helped are Hope Homes (a residential facility for the handicapped), Operation Hope (a homeless shelter in Connecticut), Spices of Life (for inner city girls), Alpha Home (transitional home for displaced families), Hospice at Home, and Autism Spectrum Resource Center.
A Ministry without Walls
The great thing about Faith Musicals is that they aren’t confined to a single church building; they’re always on the move. Alberson finds it important that they visit a variety of churches and have mixed audiences with attendees not from just one church.
“The purpose of the musicals is to lift up an outreach that is greater than any one church. People want to see what’s being done in the community and find a greater sense of what they can do together for the common good,” Alberson shared.
They’ve performed in synagogues, Catholic churches, community theaters, schools, and are open to anyone else who would like to host them.
“I got into ordained ministry out of these musicals,” Alberson said.
Staying True to her Calling
“There were a couple of times that I was offered full-time employment as a professor but it would have meant me giving this up,” Alberson said.
One of the times was when her husband was unemployed. She consulted a friend for advice, who asked, ‘Where does your heart lead you? What is God telling you to do’?
“I said ‘God is telling me not to (take the job)’,” Alberson said.
As she continued on with her calling in musicals, God worked everything out as He always does.
“Everything equalized financially. If I would have started calculating I wouldn’t have continued because many times during the ministry it didn’t look like we were going to make it, but God is much more,” Alberson said.
Musicals Come Alive in Akron
After moving to Akron from Connecticut, the miraculous meetings continued when Alberson met an Associate Minister of a local church.
“He found out what I do and said ‘It would be a great thing if you could do one of your musicals (here) and do something for Akron urban churches. There are four inner city churches that are really struggling’,” she said.
He connected her with Reverend Carl Wallace, a minister at Trinity United Church of Christ, who wanted Faith Musicals to have a home at his church.
Soon after their meeting, Alberson became a member of the church. But though she’s a member, Faith Musicals isn’t “anchored” in the church she serves, she says.
“It’s beyond the walls. Music goes beyond the walls and that’s why I called them Faith Musicals. It has to be something about faith because it’s ever expanding,” she said, sharing the verse in Hebrews about faith being the substance of things not seen.
Behind the Music
Alberson uses the word “anchors” to describe the connections that fuel her ministry. Everything in her life weaves itself into the musicals in one way or another; nothing goes to waste. Being on call as Chaplain for traumas at the Akron General Children’s Hospital is one of those “anchors”.
“That fuels my ministry. I’m with a lot of people who die, a lot of trauma…that keeps me grounded,” she said.
She also works at the Weathervane Playhouse where she finds inspiration.
“It’s an ongoing education with the artists because I’m always working with exciting people,” she said.
And the church keeps her grounded spiritually.
More Divine Connections
Since moving to Akron, Alberson can hardly keep up with the great relationships and connections she continues to make.
Jennifer Moore, Choir Director at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA), is one of them.
Moore was touched by seeing one of the musicals and approached Alberson.
“She said ‘I really enjoy what you do. Maybe you can do something like this at CVCA?'”
Faith Musicals ended up putting on two performances at CVCA, Moore was in two productions herself, and students from CVCA have participated four times in the musicals.
“I enjoyed working with Sharon on so many different levels. She is an extremely talented musician, composer and director,” Moore said.
Moore was the lead in The Chaplain, two years in a row.
“My experience was very special as the chaplain. This particular story was Sharon’s own story of her time in Chaplain Residency at a hospital. She even wrote a special part which represented her own mother (who passed away from cancer). This character shared words of wisdom while being a simple cleaning lady at the hospital,” Moore said.
“Her stories are very heart warming. I love the fact that she not only donates her time and talents to area charities, but I most respect the positive Christian message in her shows,” Moore continued.
Of the music, she says it’s “Simply stunning”.
Taking on Global Issues
“This year we are doing something very new and different. Sharon has written a musical for the CVCA Choirs to take on tour to Nashville this spring,” Moore shared.
Fair Trade -The Musical will premiere at CVCA in late February or early March.
“It’s a musical that makes a difference. It discusses what Fair Trade is and how we as Christians need to be aware of the working conditions of women and children in third world countries. We hope to raise awareness and money for charities that help women and children in poverty-stricken parts of our world,” Moore explained.
The person who spurred on this interest in Alberson is Janet Rhodes, owner of a Fair Trade shop in Hudson.
“Fair trade is a global movement to empower people around the world to be paid fairly,” Alberson explained, “There is a global slave trade and the U.S. and many multinational corporations are guilty of sweatshops.”
The positive aspect that she chooses to look at is that there is a movement that is becoming more above ground than underground.
“This movement is to eradicate global slavery, child slaves, and not just sex slaves but labor. Little children making rugs…little children making our clothes all over the world,” Alberson said with concern.
One story Rhodes shared, which Alberson will never forget, is of a woman in a far off country, somewhere in the southeastern part of the world.
“The woman saw rows and rows of cages with children in them and she made a vow to God that she would not stop testifying about what she saw,” Alberson said.
This is what inspired Rhodes to dedicate her life work to fight against this injustice, and Alberson to write a musical on it.
The new musical, which goes on tour this Spring, is definitely something you won’t want to miss, and it’s for a great cause.
God’s Dream for Our Lives
When reflecting on all God has done in her life, Alberson is thankful.
“You cannot put this on a resume. I thought ‘Where do I get a job?’ and you know what the good Lord said? ‘I am going to provide what you need for sustenance.’ This is what God can do. It defies everything. You really have to be willing to swim up the current if that is what God is calling you to do. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me ‘Why aren’t you practicing law?'” Alberson said.
To her, following God’s dream for her life has been much greater. Her “out-of-the-box” dream goes to show that when a vision is given by God, it can thrive.
“It all started because somebody in a church asked ‘Would you like to help with the summer camp for kids?’ When I had all of these fancy degrees she was not afraid to ask ‘Would you like to help?'” Alberson said.
“And I believe it happens for every person at every different level. If we keep our eyes open there are divine appointments. And it’s not just about artistic endeavors but it’s about our daily lives, where God wants us. If you read the Scriptures, that’s how the Bible reads. It’s not a resume oriented thing. They’re not on a business plan. They are encounters. And our world would like to put us all in the box, with functions, you went to seminary… here’s a track… How limiting is this track if you think how God works? The calling is in the Voice. Do you hear God calling? Where is God calling?” Alberson asked.
If you would like to find out more about Faith Musicals please visit http://www.faith-musicals.com.