From the Editor: Establish the Work of our Hands
By Kent Walters, D.W.S.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands (Ps 90:17).
This verse is my prayer for everyone in the IWS community today, inspired by evidences of the Lord’s favor in the fruitful labor of our alumni, students, faculty and staff. This newsletter celebrates the work of our hands around the world for God’s glory.
In addition to what you will read and be linked to below, be sure to access the resources from the June Session (audio files, worship bulletins, photo galleries). May God establish the work of our hands!
Expand the circle of celebration! I encourage you to invite your Facebook friends to like the IWS Facebook page. It takes a few moments to do, but it’s really valuable. Also, you extend the work of our hands every time you share IWS posts on FB. Thanks!
The Lord be with you!
By James Hart, D.W.S.
I want to write briefly about two seemingly diverse topics, but two topics I believe are at least somewhat related to each other. The first has to do with a recent national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. This survey revealed that in the past five years there has been a significant uptick (almost 5%) in the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated, or “nones”. This is not only a huge increase but a huge increase over a very short time span. “Nones” generally believe that religious organizations are too focused on the human-centered issues of money, power, rules and politics.
These survey results reveal a disconnection, or worse a disenfranchisement, from organized religion, especially the American church. These “nones” don’t have a problem with spirituality in general, or religiosity, or even religion for that matter, at least not as they may define it. They actually think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor. They think prayer is important as well; they just don’t do it as much. What has happened? It seems that the reality of God is missing from their lives, and certainly from whatever worship they have experienced. There is also a loss of faith, perhaps even a boredom with the God they’re not even sure exists.
I want to suggest that worship renewal can and will reverse this human-centered focus on money, power, rules and politics by advocating for Gospel-centered worship which primarily remembers and celebrates God’s great story of love, redemption and reconciliation, expressed in the life, work, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession and parousia (second coming) of Jesus Christ. But, we must give careful and vigilant attention to our worship practices and reflections. We absolutely must.
[Continue reading . . . ]
In Memoriam: Dr. Mike Wiebe
Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013 was a celebration of the resurrection like none Mike had ever experienced. After a year-long battle with kidney cancer, Mike entered his eternal rest Easter morning. Mike (D.W.S., Delta 2004) had served as the worship pastor at Nampa First Church of the Nazarene in Nampa, ID since 1990.
Mike sent an email to me (the Editor) a few months before his death and gave me permission to share this. He wrote: “This journey has made me very aware of my weakness, and forced me to recognize that the Lord is my only strength. There have been lots of positives in this journey with cancer. I think they far outweigh the negatives. My main concern is having strength to lead worship and choir each week. So far, God has come through amazingly, even when I don’t think I have the energy to do it.
“IWS has had a huge impact on my life. I started writing worship songs for the church year and arranging them for trio, quartet, and choir. So far I have written about forty songs, arranged about twenty for choir and about the same number for quartet and trio. This all happened because of God visiting me in the middle of the night during my second session at IWS. My life and walk with Christ has been dramatically changed since then, and our church people have told me that something is different about my worship leading. And the past year’s battle with cancer has grown my faith even more. I thank God for those two pivotal events in my life.”
By Reggie Kidd, Ph.D.
I’m hoping this is an OK place for me to say that I’m bugged by one of the so-called truisms that our evangelical subculture has come to take for granted: that you can “love Jesus” and “hate religion.”
When I was doing high school ministry we used Fritz Ridenour’s Bible study on Romans: How to Be a Christian without Being Religious. I knew what that “without” was about, but it always made me queasy. I knew we were trying to communicate that Christianity was not about rules, or about dressing up and pretending to be good. Being a Christian was about receiving a gift from God, and experiencing a relationship with Jesus based on grace.
Still the “without being religious” part has never sat quite right. [Continue reading . . . ]
By Gary Matthews, D.W.S., Alpha 2002
Editor’s note: Gary serves as Pastor of Worship Arts at Christ Memorial Church in Holland, MI, a 3000-member congregation that is a member of the Reformed Church of America. He leads the 180-member Sanctuary Choir and 45-member orchestra, along with overseeing the Worship Arts ministry. A member of the Alpha class, the first graduating class of the DWS program, Gary says, “My work at IWS prepared me for what I bring to worship creation in both classic and contemporary worship.” Gary is instrumental in maintaining a network of local worship pastors and music directors for mutual encouragement and support. He also has a nationwide concert ministry with his brother, Ron Matthews.
“I don’t like what I am seeing in your blood work.” These are definitely not the words you want to hear from your doctor at your annual physical! It was those words, however, that began a journey that has led to life.
It was determined that I had a kidney disease called IGA Nephropathy, which ultimately stops your kidneys from functioning correctly. In approximately 20% of cases it leads to renal failure, which was the kind I had. So, over the next 6 years, each blood test showed a decrease in kidney function until May of 2012 when I was told that a kidney transplant was in my future. [Read more . . .]
Student Focus: Global Worship Ministry
By Kenneth Wallace, Jr., D.W.S. candidate
Through God’s blessing, my wife and I started a worship ministry several years ago called Kingdom Reflections Multi-Ethnic Worship Ministries. We teach, train, and model what it means to reflect the kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven. This year God has opened many doors of opportunity for us to serve as Kingdom Reflections around the world. The week of Easter, we were invited to serve with the People’s Church of God Ministries in L’Artibonite, Haiti. We sang, preached, and even baptized (my first as an ordained pastor) in that beautiful country. Not a month later we were serving World Harvest Mission in Islantilla, Spain alongside World Music Mission. We blessed their missionaries from around the world by leading musical worship in English, their heart language.
I was then excited to spend time on campus at IWS learning about the renewal of Sunday worship through the arts and music. Three days later, Kingdom Reflections flew to Madison, WI to serve InterVarisity Christian Fellowship USA and Fountain of Life Family Worship Center, where people commented that it was a breath of fresh air to see elements of old “liturgy” incorporated in these more contemporary settings! What they experienced was intentionally designed convergence worship.
Currently, my wife and I are serving in Montreal, Quebec. So far we have preached the word, lead musical worship, and soon will be training young leaders. All said and done, I feel that as I have been faithful in pursuing education toward renewed worship, God has blessed our ministry extremely to carry it out in so many different contexts. I look forward to the next stage of this journey with IWS.
Read updates from IWS alumni and students around the world. Here’s a glimpse:
Kai Ton Chau (Pi 2011), Khiet Lin (Sigma 2013), and Michael Wong (Mem 2013) are presenting at a Christian Communications (Canada) event . . . Phil English (Rho 2010) and his wife are preparing for a missionary vocation in Mexico . . . Frank Fortunato (Psi 2013) is helping IWS apply its global mission and vision . . . Don Fugate (Delta 2004) celebrated 30 years of ministry in his church . . . Ruth King Goddard (DWS Candidate) presented a paper at a conference in Oxford . . . Kely Hatley (Kappa 2009) and Dyton Owen (Kappa 2009) have new ministry positions . . . Sam Horowitz is wearing yet another “IWS hat”. . . John Kreutzwieser (Iota 2006) testifies to IWS’ impact in his ministry and teaching . . . Gabe Loving (Teth 2011) has been incorporating worship renewal into his mission efforts . . . Kara Mandryk Hyde (Iota 2006) was ordained a deacon and got married this summer. . . Tony McNeill (Nu 2009) was selected to participate in the inaugural Black Theology and Leadership Institute of Princeton . . . Simon Miner (Gimel 2010) has recorded a new album for a very special purpose. [Read the rest of these stories . . .]
Read current news from IWS faculty and staff.
Eric Bolger recently took a ministry team to China . . . Constance Cherry and Lester Ruth have published new books, and recently taught in Singapore . . . Darrell Harris was interviewed on the topic of the Christian music industry . . . Reggie Kidd was ordained a deacon . . . Eric Ohlmann assumes the role of Academic Dean. [Read the rest of these stories and more . . .]
Leonard Sweet Seminar Reflections
Len’s two-day seminar, Worship in a Karaoke Culture, was enthusiastically received by the over 50 people who attended the June 2013 event at IWS.
Here are a few quotes from seminar attendees:
Superb! This was the most seminal event of my year! Thanks!
Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. Applicable to my context, challenging, theologically grounded (ancient), forward-focused (future).
Very engaging and thought-provoking. I appreciated the way Len challenged us with the importance of getting people involved in the story, and the left brain/right brain implications for worship.
I received more challenges and, at the same time, confirmations in this seminar than ever before.
Good for post-grads. The depth and breadth of the content was stimulating.
I really appreciated the Bible study methodology Len shared along with the rich content. The event was personally renewing.
What did Len Sweet think of IWS after his first visit on campus? Read his comments here.
Audio files of the seminar sessions are available to download or listen to online.
Next Worship Seminar: January 13-14, 2014 with Dr. John Witvliet.
Click on the pictures below to see the full version. To see more pictures from the seminar, go to the June 2013 Worship Seminar Gallery.
Congratulations 2013 Graduates!
On Sunday, June 16, 2013, the sanctuary of Grace Episcopal Church, Orange Park, FL was filled for IWS’ 12th Commencement Service. Worship was led by David Mardura (D.W.S. candidate), Dr. Dan Sharp conducted the choir, the Right Rev. Dr. John W. Howe delivered the sermon. (Listen to the commencement sermon. See the worship bulletin.) 40 graduates received their degrees: 25 D.W.S., 13 M.W.S., 2 A.G.C.W.S., swelling the ranks of the IWS Alumni Association to 371. To view the Commencement Service press release, click here.
Click on the photos below to see the full-size version. For additional photos of Commencement and the graduates, follow these links: 2013 Graduates Photo Gallery; Commencement and June Session 2013 Photos.
YOU in the IWS Directory
The IWS Office encourages all of our alumni and current students to check their directory information and update it as needed. To verify your record, sign into Populi and click on the “Info” tab on your profile. You can make any necessary changes there. Note that line items marked with a lock symbol are hidden from students and alumni, but visible to staff members. Out of date photos may be updated by clicking on one’s photo while in the Info tab. If you need help accessing your Populi account, email Sam, the DDLT.
IWS Video Contest
The goal of our contest is to generate heartfelt videos that tell of the impact IWS has had on the lives and the ministries of our students and alumni. Your video can be as simple or as creative as you like; simply answer the question, “What does IWS mean to you and your ministry?” First place will win a $1,000 scholarship. [Read more . . . ]