By June Mathews
Who says a good drummer can’t deliver a good sermon? Not anybody who knows Dave Malick.
Malick challenges stereotypes each Sunday when he sets aside his drumsticks after playing with the worship team at Riverchase Baptist Church, steps to mid-podium and begins to preach.
Interim pastor of the Hoover church since August, Malick has played on the worship team since joining Riverchase Baptist when his wife, Lynn, became the children’s ministry director there four years ago. Though he now has sermons to preach, he sees no reason to stop playing.
Forty-plus years ago, Malick wouldn’t have expected to be standing behind the podium preaching in 2018, although he did expect he’d still be playing the drums.
“I’d played drums in bands since I was a kid,” he said, “and I thought that was going to be my life.”
But he wanted to get a formal education, so he went to Kent State University and majored in music.
“The problem I had at Kent was they hadn’t quite figured out the drum was a real instrument, so I had to play all the other percussions, tympani, marimba and all of that – which was fine,” he said. “But my main reason for going there was the university’s Lab Band, a jazz band that had won quite a few awards nationally. And I wanted to play with them, and I did for the time I was there.”
Playing in the Lab Band opened the door for Malick to play with the likes of jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Chick Corea. He also started doing studio work in nearby Cleveland, recording rhythm tracks for commercials, and he would play at the theaters there.
“Whoever came to town without a band or drummer, I got to play with them,” he said. “I played for entertainers like Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, Perry Como, Buddy Hackett, Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy, Steve Allen, Danny Thomas …”
He and Hope shared a funny onstage moment when Malick played the wrong drum sound for Hope’s trademark golf swing.
The now infamous Cosby, he said, “was such a clean comedian. He wouldn’t use any profanity in his show, and he was so funny, you’d get a headache from laughing.”
Malick also had the opportunity to play for stage productions such as Grease.
“That was a fun experience,” he said. “We’d come in on Tuesday afternoon and read through the books – you had to be able to sight read well – then play two shows on Saturday and two shows on Sunday.”
After graduating from Kent State in 1980, Malick headed to Dallas Theological Seminary to earn a master’s degree in theology. In 1984, he returned to Ohio to serve a residency at his home church, the Chapel in University Park in Akron, and later helped plant another church, the Chapel at North Canton.
“Within three years, it grew from an initial group of 30 to 300 people,” he said. “That church still exists and is now a congregation of about 1,800.”
Malick subsequently returned to DTS to teach and work toward a doctoral degree. He’d almost completed it when he went through a divorce, which ended his time at the seminary.
“After a while, I knew I needed to do something else with my life,” he said, “and that’s when I went to law school.”
Yes, the drummer-pastor is also an attorney.
By that time, he and Lynn had married and moved to Ohio, where Malick earned his law degree at Capital University Law School. They later moved to Alabama to be near family.
After working as a paralegal and teaching at Southeastern Bible College for a few years, he joined the Richardson Clement firm in Inverness and has practiced law there ever since.
But when the longtime pastor at Riverchase Baptist, Jeff Greer, resigned earlier this year and Malick was approached about the interim position, he readily accepted.
“I was honored to be asked and glad for the opportunity,” he said.
Shepherding Into the Future
While adding pastoral duties and sermon prep for both Sundays and Wednesdays to an already busy schedule seems like a job for Superman, Malick, who runs to keep fit, is modest about his capabilities.
“It isn’t like I haven’t worked in the Scriptures before,” he said. “I’ve outlined every book of the Bible, and I’ve pastored before. I’ve also done a lot of writing academically, including articles and a book. So, it’s not as difficult to prepare as it might be otherwise.”
But it’s also his job to lead the church through the uncertainties of seeking and establishing new leadership, as well as to maintain the basis on which the church operates along the way.
“Most of all, I want to do all I can to keep the congregation unified and moving forward, and I’m doing everything I can to keep things constant,” he said. “I’m also preaching the Word of God, trying to communicate what it says, as it says it. People have been responsive to that, and they seem to be happy about where the church is right now.”
Riverchase Baptist Church is located at 2020 Crossvine Road in Hoover. For more information, visit riverchasebaptist.org.