With her song 'Stairs,' Abbye West Pates of Christ UMC in Memphis wins songwriting competition


Abbye West Pates, worship leader for The Table at Christ UMC in Memphis, Tennessee, won songwriting competition with her song, "Stairs." (Submitted photo by Steve Ide Photography)

Abbye West Pates, "The Table" worship leader at Christ United Methodist Church (UMC) in Memphis, Tennessee, can add a new accolade to her resume: songwriting contest winner.

Pates entered her original song “Stairs” in the Rose Garden Coffeehouse’s 25th Annual Performing Songwriter’s Competition in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and emerged the victor.

In an interview posted on Christ UMC's blog, Pates expressed her excitement to perform her song live at the competition.

”I found this venue through an artist I love and just decided to enter and see what happened,” she said. “I definitely jumped up and down when I got the phone call that I was a finalist invited to perform in the competition.”

A lifelong Methodist, Pates grew up at Waynesboro First UMC in Waynesboro, Mississippi, before relocating to Christ UMC nine years ago to take a job in the church's Serving & Outreach ministry.

She now holds the worship leader position for The Table, a service blending traditional and modern worship.

Pates said she considers her original music and her work as a worship leader “two streams of music.”

“People often feel the need to ask—and I don't mind—if I'm a Christian artist,” she said, “but I am, rather, a songwriter who is a Christian who writes all kinds of songs.”

Pates said her success in the competition means more than just winning an award.

“It’s also just an encouragement to be chosen as the winner,” she said. “It lets me know I’m growing and headed in the right direction.”

The prize for the competition earns her the opportunity to play at the Rose Garden Coffeehouse again, with an engagement scheduled for February. In the meantime, Pates said she plans to write new songs and enter more festivals, and is even considering releasing a new album.