Whenever Gerry Schlette had an especially difficult day teaching respiratory therapy classes at Union County College in Cranford, New Jersey, he would go into his office, close the door, pull the blinds down, and listen to BYU’s Vocal Point.
“I’ve been following Vocal Point for over three years, and I love them,” Gerry says. “Every time I listen to them, it makes me feel better.”
Gerry wasn’t your average listener when he found Vocal Point. A lifelong Roman Catholic, he only happened to find the nine-member, male a cappella group because their name came up after work one day as a recommended artist on YouTube. But Gerry quickly became obsessed with the peace he felt when he listened to their music, a feeling that became all the more vital after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. So in August 2022, he decided it was time for him to make a trip out to Provo, Utah—home of Brigham Young University and Vocal Point—to find out more about the group’s background and beliefs and why their music inspired him so deeply.
That trip to Provo proved to be an eventful one, leading Gerry to find joy through the gospel of Jesus Christ and connecting him with the musical artists who had inspired him. As he continues to battle his illness, one of Gerry’s favorite songs to listen to is Vocal Point’s cover of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.” But the group’s music hasn’t just changed his life and filled him with hope—his story of conversion has also affected countless others who have been inspired by his faith.
A Spiritual Change of Key
When Gerry boarded a plane from New Jersey to Utah, he was searching, more than anything else, for a fresh perspective in life.
“I’d heard of Brigham Young University, but I had never seen it and didn’t know anything about it, so that’s what drew me out there in the first place,” Gerry says. “When I decided to come out to Provo, I was at a very dark place in my life, and I was not very happy, and I wanted to do something positive.”
Despite not meeting any members of Vocal Point when he visited campus last August, Gerry met with many students who answered his questions and helped him have “an incredible experience,” he says. The first person Gerry met at BYU was his tour guide, Braeden Gibbs, a BYU student working for University Relations.
Braeden was impressed that Gerry had made a substantial monetary donation to Vocal Point just prior to his trip, despite knowing so little about the group. During the tour, Gerry asked Braeden many doctrinal questions about the Church and about what set BYU apart from other universities.
“Braeden answered those questions and gave me guidance, and it was the best thing I could have asked for,” Gerry says. “I am so thankful for people like Braeden who give so much of themselves into what they believe.”
While Gerry was preparing to fly back to New Jersey after his trip to Provo, he received a call from Emily Varney, a full-time donor liaison for Church Philanthropies, thanking him for his donation to Vocal Point.
During the call, Gerry mentioned that he wasn’t feeling well—he had gone through a round of chemotherapy just before his trip—and Emily felt prompted to ask him if he would like a priesthood blessing.
“It’s not a normal thing to say to a donor: ‘Would you like a priesthood blessing?’ Especially not a nonmember donor,” Emily says. “It was definitely prompted by the Spirit. And . . . when you get those promptings, you’ll regret it if you don’t listen. So I asked him.”
Gerry was interested, and he and Emily made a plan to talk again when he made it home to New Jersey so she could send missionaries to his house. He called Emily back late that evening. The mission office was closed, but one of Emily’s coworkers happened to have the cell phone number of President Micah D. Rolfe, president of the New Jersey Morristown Mission.
Emily called President Rolfe, who sent over Elder Connor Snapp and Elder Benjamin Tu’ivai to give Gerry a blessing. Gerry was amazed that the blessing spoke to every one of his concerns and humbled that complete strangers were so willing to help him. His fears dissipated, leaving him with a feeling of peace.
Following another prompting, Emily also sent Gerry a video of President Russell M. Nelson’s talk “Men’s Hearts Shall Fail Them.” Gerry emailed Emily the next day to tell her he had watched the video four times and enjoyed President Nelson’s message that “perfection comes not in this life, but in the next life.” It was a concept he’d never heard before, and it made an impression on him.
Gerry asked Emily what he needed to do to join the Church. Within two weeks of visiting BYU campus and receiving a priesthood blessing, Gerry had met with missionaries several times, begun reading the Book of Mormon, and given up coffee. Before long, a baptismal date was set.
“I decided I needed to have a change in my life, and I said, ‘I want to become a member of Christ’s Church,’” Gerry says.
Deeply moved by Gerry’s conversion, Emily called Stacey Darais at the BYU Performing Arts office to share his story. Stacey then contacted Vocal Point Director McKay Crockett to ask if there was any way Vocal Point could participate in the baptism from a distance by recording a song for him.
On September 4, 2022, Gerry was baptized. Much to his joy and surprise, Vocal Point made a video of “I Am a Child of God” just for him.
“I wanted to cry,” Gerry says. “I was just so grateful that they made a video for someone they didn’t even know. They went out of their way to bless me. How incredible is that?”
Gerry also felt a lot of love and support from his new ward at the baptism.
“When his baptism was over, it took him a long time to get out of the building because there were so many people there he’d never met who just wanted to shake his hand and welcome him and tell him how much they loved him,” Stacey says.
Several members of Vocal Point also joined the celebration from Provo via Zoom broadcast.
“He was so kind, so willing, so anxious to learn truth,” says Alex Brown, Vocal Point vocal percussionist. “The thought that his transformation process began with this group was incredible.”
Bass singer Hyrum Jackson was also touched by the impact Vocal Point’s music had on Gerry.
“I was able to attend the service via Zoom, and the Spirit was felt very strongly, even digitally,” Hyrum says of the baptism. “The purpose of the group is to enlighten the hearts and minds of those who hear, and here is a man whose life has been changed with the group’s music.”
Gerry says he watches the video that Vocal Point made for him at least once a day. “I know the song by heart now,” he says.
Coming Full Circle
After his baptism, Gerry asked the BYU Performing Arts Management office if he could meet Vocal Point if he returned to visit campus again. He was encouraged to come during the first weekend of October so that, along with meeting Vocal Point, he could also attend general conference in person.
Gerry attended Vocal Point’s rehearsal on September 30, talking with each member of the group personally and thanking them for how they had impacted his life.
“You know when you look up and take a breath and go, ‘Is this really happening?’ That’s how it was for me,” Gerry says. “They are incredible, wonderful young men.”
The experience was also inspiring for the young men in Vocal Point who felt God’s hand in his conversion.
“It was no coincidence Gerry was able to find these videos and feel the Spirit as strongly as he did,” says Hyrum. “It was so inspiring to meet him in person. His joy was contagious, and it was so fun to laugh with him and get to know him better.”
Along with meeting Vocal Point, Gerry attended three sessions of general conference, accompanied by Emily and her husband, Elder Snapp’s parents, and Elder Tu’ivai’s parents.
“It has been so cool to become a member and do the things I’ve done. It’s like God put up dominos,” Gerry says. “I got baptized, I got confirmed, I went to the temple [to perform baptisms for the dead], I got the priesthood, and I came out to general conference all in a matter of about five or six weeks.”
Before returning home to New Jersey, Gerry also met up again with his initial tour guide, Braeden Gibbs, to receive a second tour of BYU campus. Braeden noted that the first time he gave Gerry a tour, it was just the two of them. But the second time, people from Vocal Point, Church Philanthropies, and BYU Performing Arts came with him.
“It was amazing to see everyone rally around Gerry and to see how he brought this community together,” Braeden says.
Braeden adds that watching how the gospel has changed Gerry’s life gave him hope.
“Anyone could have answered Gerry’s questions [on that tour], so it wasn’t just an experience for him,” he says. “It was special for me, too.”
The Domino Effect
“It has really been interesting to see how the Lord is using Gerry’s story to inspire so many people,” Emily says. “Hearing Gerry’s story has helped me remember that the Holy Ghost is [very real], and there are still people who are willing to follow the Lord.”
Emily explained that the amazing part of Gerry’s story is not only his faith but that his story of conversion can apply to everyone.
“The Lord is willing to go to those lengths for every single one of us, and that, to me, is what’s really inspiring,” Emily says. “Gerry is faithful, and he follows the Spirit. To see the hand of the Lord in his story is really the miracle.”
Hyrum also emphasizes the miraculous timing of Gerry’s story. “The gospel has now been able to bless his life, and others through him, in a way never before possible,” he says.
Gerry says he is grateful for all the people he has been able to meet and for the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Everything I experience is through the love of God and Jesus Christ, and without [that], I wouldn’t be here,” he says. “What I needed, I found in this Church.”
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