When singer-songwriter Julie Pennell moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 2003, she was searching for a place to play her music and a place to worship. They came together at one location, Memorial Lutheran, a 75-year-old congregation in East Nashville, an older neighborhood with a burgeoning arts community.
She was invited to Memorial by its pastor, Dean Eatman, whose family moved next door to Pennell and her husband, John. While she knew little about the Lutheran faith, Pennell discovered she appreciated its traditions and loved Memorial's people. When the congregation's song leader moved away, she stepped into the role.
"With Julie in the lead, we thought an act of generous hospitality would be to provide a venue for the songwriters to perform their music," Eatman said. Memorial's first songwriters' night was May 2009 in a downstairs room.
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