The Seattle Sounders recently presented Stephen Newby, First Free Methodist Church’s composer-in-residence, with a Golden Scarf award. The Major League Soccer team gives the honor to people who have made a significant impact on Seattle and the local soccer community. Newby, who also directs Seattle Pacific University’s Center for Worship, has sung the national anthem at more than 100 Sounders games— including at the team’s inaugural match in 2009.
“For people who don’t believe in God, I hope that they get a sense that God is there,” he told the university’s Response magazine in an article about singing at the games. “People are so unified. Here, Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, all ethnicities, people with all different mindsets — all come together in one accord. I can’t help but think that this is a snapshot of the kingdom of God.”
The honor follows Newby’s decision to reduce how often he sings for the team so he can spend more time with his family. In an article on the Sounders website announcing the honor, Newby admitted that he still gets nervous before singing at a game, but he added, “After I pray and after I breathe, it goes away.”1