ETHAN HULSE: THIS IS MY STORY
When I was seven years old, my parents bought me my first guitar. It was some Ibanez beater for ten bucks at a garage sale and was the last ten bucks my dad had in his pockets, as the story goes. My relationship with music has always been immediate. It was the first thing in my life that came totally naturally to me, but not in some sort of prodigy way by any means. Academics were tough for me and I wasn’t competitive enough to be great at sports, but music was different. It was something I understood, so naturally I stuck with it and it stuck to me like a good companion. When you commit to something at a young age, it defines much of everything else you do in your life as well. All of my friends became the music people and most of the opportunities I’ve had in my life have been through playing and writing music.
I grew up in Orange County, California. My dad worked in construction and my mom worked at our church. The church was a big part of my life growing up. My family was involved in every church happening, and soon enough someone discovered that I was a decent guitar player and asked me to lead a few songs for the youth group. Pretty soon I was leading worship, and continued, through all my years in Jr. High and High School. Right out of High School I took an internship at a church called Mariners. Mariners later hired me on staff and I stayed leading worship for nearly eight years. It was there that I met some of my best friends as well as my wife, Erin. Those years were formative and through great friends and mentors on staff, I was able to see my purpose in not just being a worship leader but also in being a creative. I learned how to take authority in those gifts, to write different songs and play outside of the church as well. I began to dream differently about who I was created to be and how God could best use and grow me. When Erin and I got married in 2014, we started to pray about the next season ahead and what new things God might be placing in front of us.
Nashville wasn’t even something we had thought about for very long before moving here. It just sort of popped up on our radar and we prayed about it and then jumped in. We felt like God was saying “go” and it was less about the where and more about the going. For me, this is a place that is perfect for creatives and dreamers, so we felt immediately at home. I write songs full time, but I also still get to lead worship, play guitar for a few artists and will be releasing a solo record soon too. When we found Journey church, it was a place that provided so much space and healing for us as we processed and all that God was doing in us when we first moved here. I loved seeing how Journey emphasized their support for the artist, rather than the exploitation of their gifts. In particular, I feel like the Arts Collective provides a unique voice to the church in how it seeks to allow artists to thrive in and outside of the church walls. All in all, the music, the songs, and the inspiration has grown inside of me this past year as I’ve stepped out in faith. I feel fortunate to be in this city and this church community where others are finding this growth as well and we get to share in it together.