Anamnesis 33: Spring 2015 Edition

From the Editor: Worship Renewal Requires Wisdom and Courage

By Kent Walters, D.W.S.

We recessed at the conclusion of the January 2015 Opening Convocation with the words: “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days,” from the hymn God of Grace and God of Glory. My heart stirred with gratitude to be able to pray this with the entire community since those words had been my prayer for our students and alumni in the days preceding the January Session.

There is no shortage of vision, creative ideas and zeal for worship renewal in the IWS community. Students leave IWS and return to their ministries with a passion for renewing worship in the lives of their parishioners and in the planning and doing of their worship services. But lasting worship renewal is a hard-fought battle that is fiercely opposed by Satan and, unfortunately, often resisted by culturally conditioned churchgoers. One must know and love their congregants and be committed to intentional, long-term teaching both formally and informally. Worship renewal is a long, Spirit-generated process.

The challenge of changing the course of a church’s established worship practice, sometimes in the face of resistance, can be discouraging to the point that one loses the courage needed to move forward toward the glorious realization of biblically rooted, historically proven worship renewal.

Leaders need wisdom and courage if worship renewal is to be realized. Wisdom is one the goals of an IWS education. Courage is the unction one needs to put wisdom into practice. Lord, “grant us wisdom, grant us courage, lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.”

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance (2 Thes 3:5).

The Lord be with you!

President’s Column: Right Worship

By James R. Hart, D.W.S.

The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies forms servant leaders in Christian worship renewal and education through graduate academic praxis, grounded in biblical, historical, theological, cultural, and missiological reflection in community.

Dr. James HartSo, what is Christian worship renewal? I submit to you that it is a call to right worship, to “orthodoxy,” to “right doxology,” to “right glory.” It’s a call to right “adoration.” The word “adoration” comes from the Latin word adoratio, or “ad ora,” which means “to the mouth of,” or mouth-to-mouth. Adoration is this intimate mouth-to-mouth relationship which is the essence of right worship. The Song of Songs begins, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” According to Fr. Robert Barron, the Great Tradition interpreted this as the song of the soul singing to God for union. Union with God through Jesus Christ is the aspiration of right worship. Celebrating the mighty works of God in Jesus Christ in the posture of adoration is the proper aim of right worship. Right worship leads to the rightly ordered or integrated life, the rightly ordered family, the rightly ordered city, culture, even cosmos. If you want the key to reading the entire biblical narrative, this is it—God calling his creation to right worship. What does God ultimately want for his people? He wants them to worship him aright. Because he needs our praise? No! He has no need of our praise. But, WE need to worship because in that great act we become aligned to God through Jesus Christ, the primary worshipper. [Read more.]

In Memoriam: Stephen Littlefield, Thom Martin, David Witt

The IWS family grieves the passing of three members of our community in recent months.

Alumnus Stephen Bryan “Steve” Littlefield died March 5, 2015, after a long and brave battle with cancer. He was a member of the Rho class.  Steve graduated from IWS in June 2013 with an Advanced Graduate Certificate of Worship Studies. He worked on his dissertation, intending to complete the doctorate, but chose to take the certificate while he fought the disease. He was the Minister of Music for First Methodist Westchase Church of Houston.

Master of Worship Studies student Thom Martin, a member of the Kaph cohort, died suddenly on the night of Saturday, December 20, 2014. Tom began serving in music ministry at the age of thirteen, and never doubted his call to lead God’s people in song. He had been serving as the Director of Music Ministries for Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Georgetown, SC, for eleven years.

PatriciaWitt01-15IWS trustee David Witt died on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, after suffering a debilitating stroke. He was 72 years old. David was a strong supporter of IWS, serving as the vice chair of the Board of Trustees, chair of the Audit Committee, a member of the President’s Advisory Council for Excellence and as organist for several convocations and commencements.  David’s wife, Patricia, was on campus in January and was honored with a tribute to her husband, who had so faithfully served IWS.

Faculty Column: How Can I Keep From Singing?

By Eric Bolger, Ph.D.

Eric D.W.S. (Alpha, 2002) served as Academic Dean and Professor for MWS 501. He is Dean of the College at College of the Ozarks in Branson, MO.

Dr. Eric BolgerWhile preparing a sermon recently on John 2:13-22, I was reminded of the lyrics to an old and familiar song. The original lyrics to “How Can I Keep from Singing” center squarely on Jesus, the One who enables us to keep singing through any circumstance:

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

But these lyrics have often been adapted and de-Christianized to make “love” rather than Jesus the center:

Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

This replacement of Jesus with something else that is significant and even transcendent, in this case love, is appealing and popular in today’s culture. It is much safer and less threatening to proclaim the greatness of love—who could disagree? The New Testament authors, however, were adamant that Jesus alone is worthy of this adulation. For them, he is the center of all reality, the only trustworthy foundation upon which to build our lives. Even something as biblically important as love, when abstracted from Jesus, is only a grand sentiment with no power to transform. [Continue reading . . . ]

IWS News Summary

Hot topics from IWS: read an overview or click to get the entire story.


  • Accreditation Reaffirmation
  • Faculty Changes
  • Scholarship Fund Report
  • January Session Resources (Chapel series, bulletins, audio and more)
  • Video Contest Winners

[Read the stories . . . ]

Alumni Focus: Stories of Worship Renewal

KhietLinServiceIWS is passionate about change–in our personal lives and in our places of ministry. We may not learn about all the worship renewal taking place through the members of the IWS community around the world. But it is always encouraging and motivating when we hear accounts of vision applied and fruitfulness experienced in worship ministries. These stories are examples of the renewing work of the Spirit through our alumni: Vinnie Zarletti (MWS 2013), Khiet Lin (DWS 2013), Bob Myers (DWS 2007), Chris Cook (DWS 2011), and Rob Burns (DWS 2013). Read, be encouraged, then send your story to the Director of Alumni Activities. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thes 5:11). [Read more . . . ]

News from Alumni, Faculty and Students

IWS alumniThis article includes updates from persons in the IWS community: Rebecca Abbott, Pi 2010, Chris Alford, Alpha 2002, Steven Brooks, Upsilon 2012, Kai Ton Chau, Pi 2011, Khiet Lin, Sigma 2013, Michael Wong, Mem 2013, Constance Cherry, Simon Miner, Gimel 2010, Lester Ruth and David Yauk, DWS candidate. [Click here to read the details.]

Carla Waterman Seminar Reflections

“I was once again refreshed being with you at IWS.” (Carla Waterman, January 2015).

Dr. Carla WatermanSeminar attendees took a journey through lament in the Psalms of the Sons of Korah and emerged encouraged and renewed by hope from Carla Waterman’s two-day seminar, Lament and Longing: Songs of Hope in Personal and Corporate Prayer.

Here are a few quotes from attendees:

  • Carla’s seminar both scratched an “academic itch” that has been festering since completing my course work and ministered to my soul.
  • For those of us who know Carla Waterman, you understand that my blessing went way beyond my expectation. I already have my sights set on going back for another seminar.
  • The seminar could have been billed as IWS 901.  It felt like “being home” again in the doctoral program, only this time without a doctoral project or thesis hanging over our heads. All delight and no worry.
  • Vintage Carla. Deep, reflective, formative. [Keep reading . . . ]

June 2015 Seminar with Mark Labberton

Dr. Mark LabbertonAfter a long series of communications to coordinate with his busy schedule, we are very pleased that Dr. Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, will be our guest speaker for the June Worship Seminar at IWS. Anticipation for the event, June 15-16, 2015, has been growing since it was announced.

Seminar title: Worship That Shows and Matters

Description: This seminar will explore the biblical, theological, pastoral, liturgical and missional themes and practices in which worship, preaching and justice cohere. The evidence of faithful worship is measured by how it fosters lives that reflect the God we worship, especially in the stewardship of power. Public and private worship nurtures public and private lives meant to mirror and embody God’s reign of love, mercy and justice. Why? In what ways? To what ends?

Seminar Objectives:

  • To examine biblical and theological convictions that underlie our expectations and intentions of worship;
  • To consider the internal and external, personal and public nature of worship in light of the transformative influence of worship;
  • To reflect on the criteria we use in our experience, planning and leadership to measure or evaluate the integrity and faithfulness of worship;
  • To practice designing worship that seeks the convergence of worship, preaching and justice in community.

Plan now to “come home” to IWS for this event, June 15-16, 2015. Click to access seminar details and registration information. Check out the Facebook event here. Please share, join and invite!

June 2015 Alumni Event Activities:

  • IWS Alumni Lunch, Saturday, June 13, 12:00 p.m.
  • Commencement, Sunday, June 14, 5:00 p.m. (Alumni are invited to process in regalia.)
  • Alumni Dinner Reception, Sunday, June 14, 7:30 p.m. at Santioni’s Italian Restaurant, Fleming Island
  • Worship Seminar with Dr. Mark Labberton, Monday-Tuesday, June 15-16

Myanmar GROW Center Trip Report

By Nancy Nethercott, D.W.S. (Iota 2006)

Nancy has been a TEAM Missionary in Japan with her husband Paul since 1987. She serves as Worship Coordinator at Kurume Bible Fellowship, Tokyo, and Associate Director of the IWS GROW Center.

David & Niiang Suum with Nancy Nethercott, 2014I was invited by David (DWS candidate) and Niiang (MWS candidate) Suum to teach at the Grace Music Institute (GMI) in Yangon, Myanmar for a week in December 2014. Under the fine leadership of David and Niiang and their staff, GMI is doing an amazing job of training future church leaders in Myanmar. Each year the graduates return to their home churches, equipped for ministry, having grown in the Word and in community. With the desire to expand the training at the school beyond music to include worship, David asked me to come and help with that. What an honor!

Niiang worked closely with me in preparing for the classes, interpreting, translating handouts and coaching the 67 students. I taught each morning on “Worship Renewal through the Renewal of Scripture Presentation in Public Worship.” After some foundational teaching each day, the students worked to prepare Scripture presentations. Beyond their practice in class, they had opportunities to present the readings in two church services in which I preached on Sunday, during the graduation banquet, and also at GMI’s 10th graduation ceremony. Student groups gave six unique presentations, four in Burmese and two in English. They did a great job and it was very exciting to see them enjoy and become equipped in this important area of church ministry. They headed home to 66 different churches in Myanmar to impact their local communities with these newly formed skills.

Please pray for the school leadership and new students who will begin a new academic year in April. Please pray for David and Niiang as they prepare to graduate from IWS in June, Lord willing, having done their graduate work in their third language.

IWS launched the GROW (Global Renewal of Worship) Center to recruit high-impact global students who will influence worship renewal in their nations, and to support our international students (25% of the student body) and alumni in their ministries. This was my first trip in my role with the GROW Center. I hope to return to Myanmar in October to teach at a Worship Conference David is planning. I am very thankful I could make this trip to encourage the Suums and take part in training their students.


Read the Webber Quote of the Week


About the author

Alumni Director, Practicum Professor, and DWS graduate.