Stanley Wicks Receives Houghton University’s 2022 Christian Service Award

October 13, 2022

The recipient of Houghton University’s Christian Service Award is one who has made a significant impact for the Lord through outstanding service in a wide variety of areas such as church, community, profession, and the university. Aside from pastors and missionaries, few people have greater impact in the lives of Kingdom builders than church music directors. Dr. Stanley M. Wicks, better known as Stan, has used his gifts as a musician and music director for nearly 40 years in service of God’s people, and it is a privilege to honor him today.

Dr. Wicks graduated with his bachelor’s degree in church music and organ with a minor in voice from Houghton in 1979. He holds a master’s degree in church music and organ from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and a DMA in choral music from Arizona State University. His career as a church music director began even before he completed his bachelor’s degree when he played organ and directed the chancel choir for Brick Presbyterian Church in Perry, New York.

Houghton music faculty emeritus, Dr. Robert Galloway, remembers Stan as a talented student. “He was quiet by nature. I recall Stan as a serious and highly capable student who distinguished himself among his peers. Always conscientious and capable, he was complete committed and dedicated to his studies. He understood the nature of his calling, and throughout his career has maintained high standards for himself and those he has worked with.”

Friend and alumnus from the Class of 1977, Samuel Cheung, recalls Stan’s “nerves of steel.”

“I accompanied many recitals,” recalls Mr. Cheung. “Stan was the only one who dared to turn page for this tyrant accompanist!”

The two continue to share deep conversations about liturgy and the role of music in worship-service. “I am indeed proud of his outstanding accomplishment and immense contribution to church music,” shares Mr. Cheung.

He subsequently served as music director and organization at Forked River Church in New Jersey, Alsace Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania and Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Arizona, before settling in at Centenary United Methodist Church in New Bern, North Carolina.

During his decade-long tenure at Centenary UMC, Dr. Wicks developed and directed a fully-graded choir program for a 1,400-member church. His responsibilities included two adult choirs, a youth choir, four children’s choirs, and two handbell choirs. He integrated graded music fundamentals curriculum into the children’s choir programming, supervised volunteers, and directed children’s musicals. He served as organist for Sunday services and special programs, planned regular and special worship services, solicited grant-funding for community productions, developed a database for his choral library, led summer choir camps, and fulfilled community roles for youth choirs and his church.

In 1998, Dr. Wicks relocated to First United Methodist Church in San Diego, California, where he took on the responsibilities of Director of Worship, Music and the Arts for a 2,800-member church. He led three adult choirs, one youth choir, two children’s choir and a handbell choir. He oversaw the music staff, served as an organist, and produced multiple choral/orchestral concerts each year with members of the San Diego Symphony and professional soloists. He developed an eight-concert annual Music Series, arranged music, and led international tours. Dr. Wicks retired from his position at First United Methodist in 2020, and today maintains a travel and performing schedule.

Dr. Wicks is a well-known organ recitalist and a highly requested guest lecture at the San Diego School of Christian Studies and the San Diego Ecumenical Council. He has a special heart for encouraging the people of God to dig deeper into their spiritual journey through thematic worship music and for teaching the great choral masterworks to his choirs. Dr. Wicks deeply resonates with Martin Luther’s philosophy on worship music focused on praising God, teaching scripture and sound Christian doctrine, and avoiding the temptation to turn worship music into a form of entertainment to “please the listener” or “draw a crowd.” Whether planning a worship service or a concert series, Dr. Wicks seeks to challenge listeners to grow in their faith and understanding of God’s creation.

“In a word,” reflects Dr. Galloway, “Stan is the epitome of the outstanding graduate of which the Greatbatch School of Music can be justly proud.”

For the multitude of ways he has made a significant impact for the Lord through the promotion of a wide array of worship experiences, it is a privilege to present Dr. Stanley Wicks with the 2022 Houghton University Christian Service Award.