by Robyn Winters

Have you ever experienced the power of a congregation singing together in worship led by a praise team or brass band? In those moments you can be lifted into God’s presence or have your heart rended as the Holy Spirit breathes through the Body of Christ.

Since live music not only can be edifying for the individual but is integral to corps’ health and growth, in 2011 the Central Territory set a goal of Live Music in Worship in Every Corps by 2020 (LM2020). After working collaboratively toward this goal for six years, the territory finds itself squarely in the countdown. With an intensified focus, the territorial music and gospel arts department hosted the Countdown Live Music 2020 Worship Arts Seminar.

Territorial headquarters became a retreat center in January for encouraging 176 musicians and artists from all over the Midwest in leading and supporting worship in their corps. The weekend proved to be a time for developing gifts and equipping lay leadership.

Corporate worship sessions featured the Rev. Dr. Constance Cherry, author and professor of Christian worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University, who explored themes of crafting an engaging, God-centered worship service.

“The seminar has tremendously benefited me in opening an eye to a fresh new perspective on worship,” said Peter Kim, music director at the Chicago, Ill., Mayfair Community Church (Corps). “Dr. Cherry has stirred the yearning to seek the true meaning of worship.”

Lt. Sarah Eddy, Canton, Ill., corps officer, said, “It was a great experience for me. I was part of the worship planning breakout sessions with Dr. Cherry. She had really great insight about what worship should be. Not only was she challenging, she affirmed a few things in my ministry…One question she raised, ‘What would you be willing to change within your church/ministry because it was the right thing to do even if it means it could make people mad or even leave?’ was a good reminder that worship isn’t about pleasing people most but about pleasing God.”

Guests from across the country shared how God has allowed them to bring their gifts and talents into authentic worship. Delegates participated in training sessions specific to their artistic interests with presenters who not only are experts in their field but passionate about using their gifts in worship.

Sessions included praise team leadership with Randy Bonifield and other instrumentalists, drama with Carol Jaudes and Becki Phillips, dance with Katie Luse and Erin Morgan, adult and youth vocal with Dr. Beatrice Holz and Priscilla Burgmayer, adult and youth instrumental with Dr. Jonathan Corry and Dr. Harold Burgmayer, keyboard with Jesse Fry, and media and sound with Josh Cowing and Bernie Dake.

“Something that struck me is in true worship, Jesus is here worshipping His Father through the Holy Spirit and invites us to worship God the Father with Him,” said Shirley Lawson-Carr, St. Louis Gatweway, Mo., corps sergeant-major. “That says it all for me. I pray that in whatever means of worship I’m in, I will remember Jesus is there with me.”

Perhaps an excerpt from Bob Kauflin’s book, Worship Matters, best expresses the aim of the worship leaders who attended:

A faithful worship leader

Magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ

Through the power of the Holy Spirit

By skillfully combining God’s Word with music,

Thereby motivating the gathered church

To proclaim the gospel,

To cherish God’s presence,

And to live for God’s glory.

May this ring true as we strive to worship God in our corps, hearts and lives.

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