First Baptist Church, Huntsville, AL
Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Minister of Music & Worship

Billy Orton - Minister of Music and Worship
Email Billy Orton

Serving as Minister of Music and Worship at Huntsville’s First Baptist Church since August of 1998, Billy administers a growing program of music ministries that now encompasses choirs, instrumental groups, bands, ensembles, masterclasses, and an artist series.  In addition to his role as a worship leader, he also conducts three choirs (youth, adult and senior adult) and the orchestra of the church.  

Billy believes that responding to God’s grace and love is the essence of worship and of life itself.  That response finds such fulfilling expression in the development and use of talents in the name of Christ and His Church, giving our very best to the Master.  

A native of Greenville, Ky., Billy graduated with highest honors from Western Kentucky University (Bachelor in Music Education, recipient of The Ogden Award) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Master of Church Music), where he was vice-president of the graduating class. Prior to answering the call to Huntsville First Baptist, he served for ten years as Minister of Music at Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, VA, and earlier in churches in Bowling Green, Ky. and Winston-Salem, NC.

Rev. Orton has been a teacher, conductor and performer in various states throughout our nation, specializing in instrumental leadership and choral conducting of all age groups. He has organized and led music mission endeavors both at home and abroad. He has performed and taught in Russia, Zimbabwe and Germany, including a leadership role at the Baptists In Worship international conference in Berlin. He has served as guest conductor in numerous settings, including several honor choruses, workshop/festival events and Baptist All State orchestras.  Billy has also served as an adjunct, part-time instructor at the collegiate and graduate levels.

Billy is quite active in the community, serving as the Artistic Director for the Huntsville Community Chorus Association and conducting its symphonic chorus and chamber chorale.  He is an active member of the Brass Band of Huntsville, the  ensemble he helped start in 2001 and one that he has served as conductor, member of the euphonium section, and presently as the bass trombonist.  He is also chorus master for the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and has prepared numerous groups for performance of major works with the HSO.

Billy was part of the team that produced the recent Celebrating Grace hymnal and has been on their Board.  He also served on the Executive Council of the Baptist Church Music Conference, and was elected to national office of that organization in 2004 as the Vice-President of the Local Church Division.

His wife, Jane, is a social worker (MSSW) and therapist (Clinical Director of the National Children’s Advocacy Center) with degrees from Western Kentucky University and the University of Louisville. Billy and Jane have two adult children, John (married to Rebecca Kearney Orton), and Mary (married to Michael Nelson).  They also have two grandsons, Jack and Ryan (born to John and Rebecca in 2011 and 2015).

In addition to absolutely loving his work at First Baptist, Billy enjoys studying music and theology, practicing his horn, exercising, watching movies and the SEC Network, and has been known to still pick up a basketball for one-on-one and h-o-r-s-e!