Anamnesis: The IWS Community Newsletter
From the Editor
By Kent Walters, D.W.S., Director of Alumni Activities and Editor of Anamnesis
A Tribute to Darrell A. Harris, Dean Emeritus of the Chapel
This is a special edition of Anamnesis: The IWS Community Newsletter dedicated to Darrell A. Harris, who served as our beloved Chaplain from the inaugural session of the Institute for Worship Studies in June 1999 to June 2019.
After 20 years of faithful, impactful, and anointed ministry to hundreds of students, alumni, faculty, and staff, Darrell retired in June 2019. During the 2019 Commencement service (pictured at the right), Darrell was awarded the title, Dean Emeritus of the Chapel.
The impact Darrell has had on the IWS community cannot be measured. Nonetheless, we offer this edition of the IWS newsletter as an insufficient yet overflowing measure of the love and appreciation we all hold in our hearts for our dear brother.
Here is a very brief bio to remind you that Darrell has had a richly influential life and ministry outside of the IWS community: Darrell Harris is the founder of Star Song Records, a contemporary Christian music company. He developed and marketed the music of Twila Paris, Newsboys, Bill Gaither Trio and Vocal Band, and was the original publisher of The Complete Library of Christian Worship. Darrell is the recipient of the D.W.S. Honoraria from the Institute for Worship Studies.
Darrell, Thank You!
Darrell, God used you to inspire and nurture us, to bless and convict us, to console and goad us. You spoke his words to us; you listened to us with his heart. And you prayed for us and with us, corporately and privately.
Thank you for being faithful to your calling at IWS and faithful to who you were created to be. Thank you for your courage and candor. Thank you for your grace and wisdom. Thank you for your humor and truth-telling. Thank you for your passion and prayers. Thank you for your creativity and vulnerability. Thank you for your compassion and care. Thank you for living the life of a servant among us.
With hearts full of love and immeasurable appreciation, we say, thank you, dear friend. Thank you!
By James R. Hart, D.W.S.
From the Beginning
In June of 1999, the first session of the Institute for Worship Studies (IWS), Darrell Harris began serving as the Chaplain of the Institute. Dr. Harris’s experience in chaplaincy ministry, his dedication to spiritual formation, his knowledge and appreciation of worship, music and the fine arts, his willingness to connect the leadership of IWS with valuable resources and persons, his willingness to be transparent in his own spiritual journey, and his enthusiastic and sacrificial chaplaincy service have been critical in the growth of IWS. Additionally, when IWS suffered the death of its founder, Robert Webber, Darrell helped significantly in guiding the Institute through this difficult time. Although Chaplain Harris is officially stepping back from active service, he is still involved with IWS as a special spiritual advisor and valued mentor.
Darrell A. Harris: Man of Many Meaningful Stories
By Nancy Nethercott, D.W.S.
Darrell was my Chaplain when I was a student at IWS 2003-2006. Warmth and love radiated from him wherever he went. Darrell had a quick smile, a hearty laugh, and a story that broadened and deepened any conversation. The stories permeated his chapel homilies making the scriptural text hit home in our hearts. Darrell’s humility and sweet spirit drew people to him, and thus to the Savior he serves. Darrell didn’t try to hide his weaknesses, instead, he allowed them to shape him, and through vulnerable sharing, shape the IWS community as well.
Darrell became my mentor-Chaplain when he asked me to be his Associate Chaplain beginning in January 2017. During the next 3 years, Darrell not only trained and shaped me, he became my friend and confidant. Darrell prayed for me, encouraged me, and challenged me to be who God had equipped and called me to be. As Dean of the Chapel, Darrell released me for chaplaincy ministry within the IWS community. He now shared his stories not only publically in Chapel, but with me around the Refectory table after chapels were over, and they formed me and let me see into his godly life.
As Darrell neared retirement, he stepped up his “training” and mentoring, believing that I was to follow him in the role of Chaplain. Darrell was always kind, yet took his mission as my guide and adviser seriously. He had been the Chaplain of IWS since its inception and deeply valued the ministry and wanted to see it flourish alongside all other aspects of IWS.
When Darrell retired in June 2019 and became Dean Emeritus of the Chapel, he blessed me by humbly stepping aside in order for me to fully become the next Chaplain of IWS. Darrell continued to pray for me but never told me what to do or how to run things. He had spent years putting things into place so that daily chapel was a joy to lead not a burden to take on. He trusted me and he trusted the mentoring he had done for three years. Darrell is intentional in what he does … even in the telling of stories.
Darrell, I miss you greatly and look forward to having you come back to visit and speak in chapel once again in the near future. Tell us another story—we need them!
Feature Article: Dean Emeritus of the Chapel
By Darrell A. Harris, D.W.S. Honoraria
From the Editor: When I asked Darrell to write an article for the newsletter he had no idea this edition would be dedicated to him. But I thought it important for us to hear his voice in the context of this tribute.
My assignment in the summer of 1999 sounded easy. Our late founder, Dr. Robert Webber, asked: “Can you lead a half-hour chapel service each morning including a 10-minute “Chapel Talk?” At “first blush” that sounded very doable. When our daughters were young kids I wanted to start evening family devotions. My bride “strongly suggested” that I keep the entire program under 10 minutes.
At one time, President Jim Hart was not only a student in our inaugural IWS class but also a part-time employee of IWS and worship leader at our original host church. One day I asked him what he thought morning chapel should look like, structurally. Without hesitation, he suggested the 3-fold “monastic order” of praises, scripture, and prayers.
Although I didn’t have that verbiage then, it should have occurred to me. When leading family devotions years before, our little “liturgy” was 1) singing a praise song the kids could sing along with, 2) reading and discussing a scripture verse or two, 3) memorizing, over a period of time, the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, the Ten Commandments and the Apostles Creed, which resulted in cycling the Psalm, Commandments, and Creed in rotation, saying one each evening concluding with 4) extemporaneous prayers and the Lord’s Prayer.
I already knew how to lead a service in the 3-fold monastic structure, I just didn’t know that I did!
Faculty and Staff Tributes
Darrell’s close relationship with all the faculty and staff has been a reality since the school’s inception over twenty years ago. He has prayed for and ministered to every single one of us. Here are a few tributes that represent the heartfelt gratitude of the entire staff.
Dinelle Frankland, Academic Dean
Darrell Harris has been a consistently positive influence in my 19-year history with IWS. To sit with Darrell and chat is to drink from a well of rich experiences and servant leadership. He has willingly and selflessly shared this wealth with the IWS community. His love for God, for worship and for students is deeply embedded in the legacy of IWS. There are not enough words to express how deeply I have appreciated his calming, loving, and optimistic presence.
Lou Kaloger, MWS 503
I began my DWS studies in January of 2012. Everything was new and, at times, a bit overwhelming. Yet, during that very first week of study, there was a daily respite wherein I was able to recalibrate my soul and rediscover “north.” That place was the IWS chapel. In those chapel services, I experienced renewal through the stories and insights of a passionate Christ-follower (with crazy-cool scarfs) who effortlessly navigated his words of encouragement from Deuteronomy to Dylan, from Milton to Miyazaki—at times, all within the same sermon! Thank you, Darrell, for your friendship, for hosting “The Movie Hounds of Heaven,” and for teaching us to look up and to anticipate, not a world that is dreary and dull, but a world of enchanted beauty, wonder, and hope through the work of our Lord.
Douglas Curry, MWS 601
During my first session as a new faculty member, I recall the impact of Darrell’s leadership in the opening Convocation service, warmly executing the liturgy. In the mornings that followed, his warmth, humor, and spiritual direction spilled over in his leadership of chapel. Yet, what I found most compelling was the manner in which Darrell interacted and spent time with everyone at IWS. Not just faculty and students, but most mornings he could be found post-chapel having robust, caring conversation with the kitchen staff and others attending to the logistical needs of class and chapel. A man for all the people!
Carl Park, BIB 501
I think it was my first or second time at IWS, and I didn’t know anyone. But people, including Darrell, made it so easy to feel at home and welcomed. I remember a conversation while driving with Darrell and a couple of other faculty members. We talked about Houston in the 1960s, his interactions with the Vineyard movement, Twila Paris, his own music career, movies, and a bunch of other topics. Such an interesting and fun conversation! But more than the content, it was how welcome he made me feel. (And he welcomed me with a hug every session.) Also, I fondly remember him talking about his dad during a chapel message. His last memory of his dad was him kissing his forehead goodnight. Then, his friend said he’d love to share his daddy with Darrell, but Darrell wanted his own daddy. He related how he actually wishes the same for people who have had not-so-great fathers. Darrell, I’m so glad you and I share a great Father, and I pray the joy you have in being his child continues to deepen and mature.
Andrew Hill, DWS 701
Two things come to mind rather quickly when I consider Darrell Harris’ two decades as our Chaplain. First, Darrell’s commitment to prayer, without pretense, and deeply sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Second, Darrell’s generous spirit of ecumenism forged, in part, from his own worship life experiences. Both of these traits are core values of the Webber Institute for Worship Studies. Darrell’s ministry as Chaplain has done much to instill and nurture them as important facets of our corporate identity. Thanks be to God!
Jack Van Marion, DWS 703
Darrell, I think, was the first one to observe and state that the IWS experience is (can be) ruinous—the Spirit transforming our way of thinking about Trinitarian, sacramental worship. Darrell made that statement during the early stage of the Institute’s existence. And throughout our work at IWS, I think the statement has shown to be correct and spot-on: many students have been “ruined” and built up into strong worship leaders, providing leadership in worship renewal around the world.
Mark Murray, Vice President of Enrollment Management
Darrell was one of the first IWS staff members that new students would meet during orientation. Time and again, new students would comment that it was Darrell’s warmth, humor, and evident faith that set them at ease and helped them settle into their IWS journey. I was blessed with the opportunity to hear Darrell’s words of welcome many times during my tenure as Admissions Director, and I never failed to be touched by the way he always opened: “The most important day in my life was actually the most important day in somebody else’s life.” And then he would describe the sweet story of how his dad was brought to saving faith in Jesus and the profound effect it had on their home and on his upbringing. Darrell lives a faith that is active, curious, compassionate, and constantly growing in wisdom and rich treasures, all of which he has freely shared with his IWS family. I treasure my friendship with Darrell and bless the Lord for all this dear brother has given and continues to give to IWS. Thank you, Darrell!
Melody Kuphal, WR 501
One day before leading chapel with the praise team, I shared with Darrell that I went through a long season of living for accolades. I saw how this need for recognition hurt my overall character. After recognizing this sinful attitude and seeking to change, I realized I was now struggling with accepting compliments related to my musical gifts. I feared the dark, sinful place from my earlier years. Darrell reminded me of the importance of allowing others to express their gratitude and suggested I reframe these interactions. He said something like, “I am so grateful God has allowed me to serve his Kingdom through these gifts during this season of my life!” This short conversation has shaped how I move forward as a worship leader, teacher, and woman of God!
Jeff Barker, DWS 702
Over the past ten years, our chaplain, Darrell, has trusted me to prepare presenters of scripture for chapel. It has been a sacred trust that I’ve not taken lightly. Darrell was always attentive and interested in what we were up to, but he never hovered. He has the gift of freeing those around him, thus empowering them to do their best. During his final session at IWS, my students developed an idea of interlacing the assigned portion of the Sermon on the Mount with teeny-tiny contemporary illustrations. It turned out to be a quite successful way to perceive those ancient verses with new eyes and ears. But that morning before chapel I was nervous. I had decided to NOT tell Darrell what we were up to so that he could honestly put the blame on me if the presentation did not go well. But just before chapel, I decided to give Darrell a warning so he didn’t have a heart attack. I said, “I dunno, Darrell. We may have gone off the deep end with the scripture this morning.” I thought he may get curious and say, “Why do you say that?” But nope, he simply grinned and said, “I like the deep end.” What a beautiful leader!
Alan Rathe, DWS 701
Years before joining the IWS community, I saw a photo of Darrell Harris, chaplain at IWS. I remember vaguely wondering: could this good-looking music industry guy really be a good chaplain? Years later, as I sat alone at a table with Darrell, still a near-stranger to me, I found myself easily giving him wide-open access to my troubled heart. It was then that I knew I had been, in a sense, right. Darrell was not a good chaplain. He was a great one. I’ve been perpetually amazed that when he offers reflections to the larger community, Darrell’s creative, insightful, authentic wisdom is nearly always exactly what I need to hear. But still: the experience of being “chaplained” by him, in generous friendship? That’s the part of Darrell Harris I treasure as sheer gift.
The genuine affection for Darrell Harris, our 20-year-long Chaplain, is represented in the beautiful memories and sincere words of appreciation from our alumni.
The following quotes were specifically solicited for this special Tribute Edition. Here is a randomly assembled sampling.
Dean Moyer, D.W.S. 2003
On more than one occasion I arrived on the IWS campus in a state of unrest. I remember clearly one of those times, Darrell, in his ever-gracious way sat, eyes fixed on my soul, and listened, and prayed. I don’t recall his counsel, but I do recall he was present; fully present. That is what I needed. I didn’t need someone to tell me what to do. I just needed someone to hear me. Darrell’s gift to me, and I imagine many in our IWS family, was his gift of being genuinely present, through which the grace of Christ and peace of His Spirit were shared. Thank you, Darrell.
Natasha Schmidt, M.W.S. 2011
Darrell Harris was a shepherd in a time of ministry where I felt surrounded by wolves. His gentle manner and the way he presented truth in love brought healing and light to my darkness. Thank you, Darrell, for being a faithful light-bringer. May God bless and provide for you in all things as you live and serve in this new chapter!
Erik Buxton, D.W.S. 2014
Having worked in the local church for more than three decades, I have listened to countless sermons, talks, teachings (some were sleep aids!). What struck me the first time I heard Darrell speak was his brilliant ability to pack truth, thoughtful insight, challenge, wit and humor into a few minutes. I loved my professors at IWS, but my experience was enriched exponentially by the myriad ways his talks called me to listen more intently for God’s voice, pursue more passionately his presence and inquire more ardently how I can live out a better witness of my relationship with Christ in my community. More personally, Darrell encouraged me to stay the course when I was wavering in my own resolve to complete the program. He managed, at the most curious times, to speak heartening words that always impacted me. It is an understatement to say that Darrell’s shepherd’s heart and well-cured words were key components in my transformation as a spiritual leader. I am and will always be grateful for Darrell’s selfless investment in my formation.
The photos below are only three samples from the full gallery that spans the two decades of Darrell’s IWS chaplaincy from June 1999 to June 2019. Click here to go to the Darrell A. Harris Gallery of Memories!
Darrell Harris IWS Resouces
Search the online resources that preserve and extend the life and legacy of Darrell’s IWS ministry. Thankfully, most of Darrell’s chapel talks are available for your inspiration and personal renewal.
Chapel talks (audio and video), articles and links may be found by clicking on the search icon at the top right of this webpage and typing in Darrell’s name.
Here are a few links to get you started.
Chapel Series search (video)
Chapel Series search (audio)
Archived Chapel series (2006-2011)
Worship: An Emergency Mandate [June 2009 audio, 12:18]
A Meditation on Healing (Service context and photos, September 11, 2006)
Articles and more . . .