Doug McNeel and the Sons of Maverick performed for the Chip Prehn Farewell Concert at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio on Saturday, April 17, 2010. Music director Dr. David Eaton and the The St. Luke’s Friends of Music hosted the delightful event which celebrated Walter “Chip” Prehn’s service as Assistant Rector to St. Luke’s for the prior five years.

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The title page of Chip’s dissertation

Although Father Prehn’s original career trajectory had been in the direction of parish ministry, including service as the rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Chip caught the schoolhouse bug when he was tapped by Dr. James Robison to serve as the chaplain of TMI, a preparatory school on the northwest side of San Antonio under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. Through his experiences as school chaplain and eventually as the interim assistant headmaster of TMI, Chip sensed a deeper calling to the world of education. He was accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville which culminated in a PhD in the History of American Education. His doctoral dissertation was devoted to the nineteenth century Church School Movement inspired by American educator, W. A. Muhlenberg. By the time of the concert Chip had secured a position as the Headmaster of the Trinity School of Midland, Texas.

Blowing Grass 750The concert was loads of fun. The Sons of Maverick musicians which included Trent Timberlake on guitar, Hank Harrison on fiddle and mandolin, Brandon Rivas on upright bass and Greg Escamilla on percussion were also joined by the multi-talented priest and educator. Chip not only added harmonica to the mix of Doug McNeel’s soul nourishing Texas Americana music, but also wowed the crowd with his extraordinary talent as a grass blower. The high point of the afternoon came when Chip took center stage and created a series of bird calls by blowing on a fresh green blade of St. Augustine. It was a hoot. This unique talent of his is showcased on The Great Awakening CD on the track entitled “The Call of St. Augustine.”

Following the concert Chip said his goodbyes to the congregation and embarked for West Texas for the next chapter in his educational odyssey. For Chip one of the great challenges for educators is to maintain in the school house an appropriate balance of emphasis between the pursuit of academic excellence and the moral and spiritual development of the students. Chip discovered in the Muhlenberg Church School Movement an effective, counter-cultural model for nurturing well grounded, well rounded students better prepared to live a truly good life. We wish him well as he pursues this vision in Midland.

 

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