Alumni Focus: “My IWS Experience”

Alumni experience a sense of “coming home” when they return to IWS for Commencement, a worship seminar, or to worship in chapel or a practicum service. Beyond the warmth of community, being back on campus is often an experience of “anamnesis” because of the profound transformation that is not atypical in this place. Here are testimonies from two alums who returned to campus for the June 2015 Worship Seminar. Heather Hood has served as the Minister of Worship & Music at Christ Presbyterian Church (Edina, MN) since 1985. She is also on the faculty of the University of Northwestern–St. Paul, teaching classes in the Music Ministry degree program. Evelyn (Evie) Martinez and her husband Edwin are missionaries with One Challenge (OC International Ministries). They have been serving Spanish-speaking countries for 42 years focusing on evangelism and leadership development of pastors and worship leaders.

My IWS Experience: “Like a Blood Transfusion”

Heather Hood, D.W.S., Gamma 2003

Dr. Heather HoodI recently returned from the June 2015 IWS Worship Seminar and am feeling energized for ministry in ways that I was not expecting. I should have known that would happen considering all that I gained from studying at IWS. But when I am away from the IWS environment for a period of time, I forget the power of the IWS experience: having my mind and spirit deeply enriched; growing in my understanding of worship and the world; being inspired by what I see/hear/experience; catching a glimpse of the work of God in people and faith communities from around the world; being surrounded by folks like me, who are seeking to understand God more and live that out in meaningful ways as we minister in the Church. It’s like having a blood transfusion for life and ministry at a fuller and richer level!

Alumni Dinner 2015

Thanks to Mark Labberton for stretching and challenging us with a broader perspective of worship and how it can truly transform lives, to Kent Walters for organizing all of the details, and to IWS for providing these opportunities for alumni to remain not only connected to the school, but empowered for our work in the Kingdom.

My IWS Experience: “The Best Booster Shot”

Evie Martinez, D.W.S., Delta 2005

Evelyn MartinezWe are full-time missionaries in the Spanish-speaking world. After years of ministering to worship leaders and pastors in Latin America and Spain, I now raise our grandson as my husband travels the world. Moving from Georgia to Washington State has made it more difficult to get back to IWS. But, when I received an email from Kent Walters announcing the seminar and my 10th year class reunion, my husband immediately said, “You should go.”

My expectations were high in returning to IWS. I can truly say that it was all I expected, wanted and more. It represented a huge boost in every area of my life bringing physical, emotional, mental and spiritual renCommencement  Alumni, 2015ewal. Upon arrival, I was met with a huge welcome. I felt that every person was a member of my family even though I had not yet met many of them. I found it hard to sing in the first chapel service. I had tears of joy running down my face. It was like being in heaven hearing the angels sing to God Almighty. I know that most of you know what I am talking about.

The seminar with Dr. Mark Labberton was exceptional. He stretched me in areas that hadn’t been visited in a while. The entire time was blessing on top of blessing for me. To sum up my experience back at IWS, I would have to say it was the best booster shot I could have imagined. Bottom line, I would encourage all alumni to make time to get recharged for ministry by coming to an IWS seminar and spending time with fellow graduates. It will be by far the best investment you could ever make.


Labberton seminar media (audio and video)
Labberton seminar event gallery
Labberton seminar reflections
Seminar description and overview

About the author

Alumni Director, Practicum Professor, and DWS graduate.