Teri Vance: Minister hosts First Church of the Second Chance

Canyon White is an ordained minister, but her preaching style is a bit … unorthodox.

“I teach from the gospels of Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo and Peter, James and John,” she said. “I’m legal to marry you, bury you. I can do baptisms or exorcisms. I draw the line at circumcisions.”

Her pulpit is typically a stage, and she sings her sermons while playing guitar.

I met her when she was performing at the Red Dog Saloon, and she got me up on my feet singing along to the likes of “Drinking Problem,” and “You and Tequila.”

It’s quite a coincidence this column is running on Father’s Day weekend. I actually interviewed Canyon several weeks ago, but because of scheduling conflicts, it’s not running until today.

It’s fitting because my dad loved drinking songs. He’d often play them on our way to church, which we attended every Sunday. He’d long since quit drinking, it was against our religion.

But he’d play George Jones, Hank Williams, Jr., Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn … and we’d all sing along, much to the dismay of our mother.

His philosophy would fall right in line with Canyon, who every Sunday, from 9 a.m. to noon, hosts the First Church of the Second Chance at the Canvas Cafe in Virginia City.

“We’re all sinners,” she said. “We all need forgiveness, joy and a good breakfast.”

And a good drink.

“The first miracle Jesus did was turn that water to wine,” Canyon said. “He’s the first one you want to invite to a party.”

And she sees little difference between a bar and a church.

“Whenever people congregate and are telling their stories, they’re testifying. That’s church,” she mused. “We’re all connected in that way. It’s not just a building with a cross on top.”

Part of her ministry is to elevate the talents of her fellow musicians. She hosts several jams in the area, along with a weekly radio show, the Canyon Club, where she features musicians, comedians, singers, songwriters and more.

She interviews her guests 2-3 p.m. Thursdays — which is open to audience participation — at the local radio station KNVC, 900 N. Minnesota St. The show airs 7-8 p.m. Thursdays on FM 95.1.

“The beer is cold, the music is hot. People is cool, and the music is live,” she opens.

She plays some of her own songs (I really loved one she wrote called, “Let Your Shadow Shine”), then has her guests play.

On the day I visited the studio, she had local singer/songwriter Athena McIntyre and Tim Knecht of Susanville playing along.

When it comes to her own music, Canyon is reluctant to choose a genre.

“I usually don’t,” she said. “I just play it.”

She explained further: “I think I’m up there rocking it, but people will come up and say, ‘I love your music, it’s so soothing.’ And I think I’m rocking like Led Zeppelin. So I just play it. I don’t describe it.”

In any regard, what matters is she’s doing the Lord’s work.

“The front line is the honkey tonks and bars,” she said. “The music is going to move people in a way that a sermon won’t.”

Follow Canyon at Canyon White Music on Facebook.

To learn more about KNVC or to host your own show, go to knvc.com.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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