President’s Column, February 2013 (Anamnesis)

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore (Psalm 133 NKJV).

When Bob Webber died in 2007, many in the IWS community privately expressed concern about the viability of IWS without its founder leading the way. Chaplain Darrell Harris seemed to have the word of the Lord for us in this matter at that time. Darrell stated that, while we recognize the vacuum that our great leader had left, Bob was intentional about communicating and encouraging a strong sense of communal empowerment to carry on the mission. He conveyed that empowerment by leaving a legacy of a Christ-formed, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-sustained sense of community rooted in the perichoretic life of the Triune God. In my time as President, I have seen our community continue to grow in bonds of love, deference and servitude toward one another. As I shared with the trustees this month, the ethos of IWS is as strong if not stronger than ever! Thanks be to God.

In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Because God has already laid the foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us [brothers and sisters] who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise.” I am deeply grateful for the community God continues to form, nourish and sustain of alumni, students, faculty, staff and trustees at IWS.

Bonhoeffer ends his chapter on community by stating, “’Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity’—this is the Scripture’s praise of life together under the Word. But now we can rightly interpret the words ‘in unity’ and say, ‘for brethren to dwell together through Christ.’ For Jesus Christ alone is our unity. ‘He is our peace.’ Through him alone do we have access to one another, joy in one another, and fellowship with one another.”

Due to the faithful blessing of the Lord, the January 2013 session has again seen remarkable achievements. Below are some highlights which we can celebrate together:

  • January on-campus enrollment of 101 tied for the highest January number in our history. We currently have the highest overall enrollment in our history.
  • We have recently completed cooperative educational agreements for credit transfer with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) and Knox Theological Seminary. These initiatives enable students at GCTS and Knox to take worship studies courses that may contribute to their degree programs. Additionally, they enable IWS students to be eligible for elective transfer credit when completing a degree at GCTS or Knox. For more information on the details of these agreements, please contact me at the IWS office.
  • January’s alumni seminar with Dr. Gordon Smith was inspiring and received rave reviews from those who attended.
  • IWS extended its reach into new countries as we welcomed first-time students from Mexico, Norway, and Pakistan, as well as our second student from Myanmar. We continue to matriculate students from other countries such as Australia, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, and Turkey.

With sincere appreciation for the sustained dedication of the alumni, students, faculty, staff and board, the IWS community has continued to grow in impact, size and generosity.

We recently received this message from a current DWS student, revealing a bit of the impact that our school is having:

My experience at IWS has totally reshaped my ministry. Fifteen years ago, while teaching music in an evangelical seminary, I discovered the writings of Bob Webber and felt an increasing pull towards worship as he described it. Realizing that I could fill an important gap by developing a worship curriculum for seminaries, I enrolled in the doctoral course at IWS. My studies at IWS raised my awareness and personal experience of the transformational power of worship and expanded my missionary vision to encompass worshipers being transformed into more effective disciple makers through a more vital encounter with God in line with his biblical principles of corporate worship.

Thanks be to God. The Lord be with you!

About the author

Dr. James R. Hart has served as President of the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies since 2007. Dr. Hart was a member of the first IWS doctoral class, the Alpha class, and served as Dean of Students during his matriculation. After graduating from IWS, Dr. Webber appointed him as the Dean of Administration, and then Provost in 2006. In June of 2007, he was inaugurated as the second president of IWS. Dr. Hart holds a B.M. in Sacred Music from Oral Roberts University, an M.M. in Trumpet Performance from the University of Tulsa, and a D.W.S. from the Institute for Worship Studies. He was critical to the formation of IWS in Florida and has held administrative responsibilities since its inception in 1999. He is a professional trumpeter, choral director, and worship leader, and a published composer/arranger, songwriter, and author. He has been involved in worship leadership in various contexts around the globe for over 40 years and has taught in the areas of worship, theology, and music in various conferences, colleges, and seminaries. Dr. Hart and his wife, Carol, have three daughters and three grandchildren.