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Maybe you know Marsha Stevens because she wrote a song you love, or because she came to your church to do a concert. Maybe you know her because she's written theme songs for every MCC General conference since 1985 or because she's paid for someone from your church to be on a recording with her. But since September of 2002, the right-wing Christians have been re-introduced to Marsha by "The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music", sold in Bible bookstores across the country. Here is an excerpt of what they had to say about her.

{If Larry Norman is to be called the father of Christian Rock, then Marsha Stevens certainly deserves to be known as the mother of contemporary Christian music, a title that Christian Century and others have bestowed upon her. She was the leader of what is considered to be the world's first contemporary Christian music group, Children of the Day, and she has continued as a solo artist to produce albums of worship-oriented and edifying adult contemporary pop. As such, she remains the progenitor of what, by 2002, would become the single most popular genre in the contemporary Christian music market. Such artists as Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker, Amy Grant, Kim Hill, Twila Paris, Sandi Patty and Jaci Velasquez all sing in her shadow. Whether they know it or not, Marsha Stevens went before them to prepare the way - against odds they can scarcely imagine. A pioneer of pioneers, Stevens would be one of the only artists from the early Jesus movement to be still recording and touring fulltime at the end of the millennium. And yet - she would remain virtually unknown to potential fans of her music, ostracized by an industry whose limits of ecumenicity had been tried and found wanting. The story of Marsha Stevens in many ways parallels the story of the Jesus movement itself. That revival began with spontaneous waves of spiritual renewal and impassioned piety; it ended with controlled legalism that replaced spiritual agendas with political ones. Whether the Jesus movement of the 1970's morphed into the Religious Right of the 80's or was killed by it is a matter of historical perspective. In any case, and whoever may be to blame, by the end of the 70's, the Spirit had been quenched and revival was over. Stevens, who had perhaps typified the revival better than anyone else, was caught in the transition and became one of the first victims of the new order. Whatever one may think of the issues involved, the Christian music community's rejection of Marsha Stevens remains an ugly smirch on its legacy, and a prime example of its often unacknowledged sectarian character.

Born Marsha Carter, the talented performer wrote what would become Children of the Day's classic hit, "For Those Tears I Died (Come to the Water)" when she was just sixteen. One of the most popular songs of the Jesus movement, "For Those Tears I Died" is a moving testimony to God's saving grace, replete with images of baptism and liberation…the song was featured on what was destined to become the most important Christian music album of all time, Maranatha's The Everlastin' Living Jesus Music Concert, the record that put the Jesus movement revival into high gear, spreading its influence from Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa throughout the country and beyond. "For Those Tears I Died" became one of the best known Christian folk songs of the decade. It would be translated into numerous languages, recorded by countless artists and, for a time, could be found in practically every evangelical songbook in the country. No one in 1969 could have predicted it would have such influence in the decade ahead - much less that, for two decades beyond, Christian congregations would be ripping the song out of their hymnals, systematically binding up the pages and mailing them off to Stevens as a symbol of the hostility they felt toward one who continued to love Jesus and sing His praises when they thought she was no longer entitled to do so…

Stevens became the first (and as of 2002, the only) major singer in the contemporary Christian music subculture to identify herself publicly as a lesbian…Christian Century Magazine has said that Stevens became "conservative Christianity's worst nightmare - a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, God-fearing lesbian Christian."

Somewhat ironically, Stevens has continued to represent "the spirit of the Jesus movement" more faithfully than anyone else from that era. In the early '70s, Christian bands often traveled the country in vans or buses, playing wherever and whenever they could in exchange for a free-will offering and a chance to give their testimonies. Likewise, Stevens spent the (past 10 years) in an RV doing from 120-200 concerts a year…she eschews worldly possessions, fame, fortune and all the rest for the simple opportunity of telling the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

For her part, Marsha does not betray a shred of bitterness toward any of those who have opposed her and she does not seem to resent her exclusion from the contemporary music culture. She speaks tenderly of her former colleagues and respectfully of the leaders at…churches that have dismissed or denounced her…And she has found her calling, "Does the church really need another middle-aged female Christian singer? Check out the CD racks! I write and sing contemporary Christian music for the glbt community. It may be a narrow field, but hey, it's wide open!"}

Today, Marsha and her spouse, Cindy, are working between tours to continue their music ministry training school for those in Christian outreach to the GLBT community. An outreach of Balm Ministries (Born Again Lesbian Music), the program is called upBeat!. They have produced a Praise and Worship album with 14 singers and 10 songwriters and each year they accept 6 to 10 students into their training seminars.