Anamnesis: The IWS Community Newsletter


In this issue:


From the Editor

By Kent Walters, D.W.S., Director of Alumni Activities

NIR–News, Inspiration, Resources

This edition of Anamnesis is full of NIR. The Spring 2020 Edition was a special issue dedicated to Darrell Harris, so I have saved up a lot of content to share with you. First, some quick NIR items.

Worship Seminars

  • January 2020 Jeremy Begbie Seminar photo gallery
  • The Emmett Price Seminar, It’s More than Entertainment: The Biblical and Theological Considerations of Black Christian Worship has been rescheduled for January 2021. See more information below.
  • Announcing the June 28-29, 2021 seminar speaker: Dr. Edith Humphrey

In Case You Missed It

Congratulations 2020 Graduates!

The official Commencement activities have been postponed until 2021. Nonetheless, we celebrate with and welcome thirty-two new graduates to the community of alumni: 14 D.W.S., 2 A.G.C.W.S., and 16 M.W.S. Congratulations to the Class of 2020! We look forward to celebrating with you in person, once it is safe to do so!

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Gloriously Ambushed!

By Darrell A. Harris, Dean Emeritus of the Chapel

The March 2020 Edition of Anamnesis was a special edition tribute to Darrell Harris in honor of his 20 years of faithful service as our Chaplain. After being totally surprised when it was published (thank you, everyone, for keeping the secret!), he wrote to me saying, “This is just so, SO much to take in. I am rarely beyond words but this may well be one of those few moments. . . . I am humbled, gratified, honored, and blessed beyond words.” Here is Darrell’s response to us all.

Such joy has never blindsided anyone I know!

Darrell A. Harris

Dr. Kent Walters had just asked me for a reflection on my 20 years of IWS Chaplaincy for the Spring edition of Anamnesis. However, I had no idea what was coming. All your affirmations and expressions of love in that newsletter overwhelmed me beyond words. I had to stop reading multiple times, wiping away copious tears of joy and catching my breath, before finishing.

Welcome, so welcome, all! You are all so precious in our Lord’s Kingdom work of servant leadership in Christian worship renewal! My service at IWS has been all joy and a sacred honor for me.

In times past I deflected such affirmations as those afforded me in Anamnesis. However, now I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s declaration that “they glorified God in me.” (Galatians 1:24).

Shalom, all!

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President’s Column: Justifying God in the Midst of Suffering

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

“Count it all joy” (Jas 1:2).

Dr. James Hart

What a strange time this has been in our history, an unprecedented, life-altering and defining moment that has not left anyone in our world untouched. Not only have we faced a deadly pandemic and worldwide economic collapse, but we have endured plagues of locusts and murder hornets, intensification of political posturing and polarization, acute racism, political protests and unrest in the U.S. and around the globe, and wars and rumors of wars. Just last week, one of our IWS doctoral students, Emmanuel Bileya was brutally martyred for the faith, along with his wife Juliana and their unborn child. They were killed while trying to advocate for the peace of Jesus Christ to reign in the midst of a tribal war in Northeast Nigeria. All of these crises have affected members of the IWS community in significant ways. These global events may feel like the end times as depicted in media, even in some interpretations of holy writ.

I was asked recently if I thought these are the end times. Yes, for at least 2,000 years now. [Continue reading, or access the audio or video recordings of this homily …]

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Remembering Emmanuel and Juliana Bileya

IWS Grieves the Death of a Dear Brother and Sister

Emmanuel and Juliana

The IWS community was rocked by the tragic news of the murder of Emmanuel Bileya and his wife Juliana, June 1, 2020, in Nigeria where he served as a pastor and seminary professor. By God’s grace, they had taken their eight children to the safety of a mission headquarters.

Emmanuel enrolled at IWS in 2014 and was in the final stage of the DWS program, having taken the 801 thesis course in 2019. His thesis was to be titled, “Promoting a Formative Post-Baptismal Discipleship Class for Learning God’s Word in the Christian Reformed Church, Nigeria.” According to his thesis instructor, “His goal was to help local churches, including his own, but also his denomination form and grow to maturity young Christians in the faith.” Emmanuel taught and influenced hundreds of Nigerian pastors.

Just two weeks before his death, Emmanuel wrote of the dangerous and volatile situation in his immediate area caused by tribal conflicts. You may read Emmanuel’s last recorded communication and more background information on the IWS In Memoriam web page. You will also find there a video that Emmanuel made explaining why he came to IWS, as well as a video of him reading Scripture in his final doctoral practicum on campus.

You may read a description of the sad circumstances of the Bileyas’ death at this weblink.

Emmanuel among the devastation in 2014.

While Emmanuel was at IWS for the June 2014 session, he received word from his family that violent fighting between religious groups had broken out. Many buildings were burned down including churches, a mission hospital, and numerous houses. Some homes belonged to members of Emmanuel’s extended family. Read the article on this event and view additional photos in the August 2014 Edition of Anamnesis.

Personal Memories

Jeff Barker, Professor of DWS 702

Emmanuel was not a man of brief words. His passion wouldn’t let him stop short. One morning in class, I asked the students what was on their hearts. Who could blame Emmanuel for taking some time, because what was on his heart was the shed blood of his people in Nigeria. He schooled us that day in a story that was not yet on our radar. His passion changed us. It changes us still.

Mark Murray, Vice President of Enrollment Management and DWS candidate

It was no easy task for Emmanuel to be a student at IWS—the language barrier, the cost of airfare, the unreliable electricity and internet in his village—and every time he submitted his assignments and made it back to campus for his next course, it was no small miracle.

I was blessed to share many conversations with Emmanuel before and during his time as an IWS student, but my favorite memory of him involves a conversation I witnessed between him and some other students.

A group of MWS students were playing a pick-up game of basketball during a break. Emmanuel happened to be walking by and they asked him if he’d like to play. He told them he couldn’t—not because he was running late for class or a meeting, but because he had never played basketball before. Rather than leaving it at that, the students said, “That’s okay, we’ll teach you!” And with a smile, Emmanuel joined them.

They spent the rest of their break teaching him how to dribble, how to pass, and how to shoot. The look on his face the first time he bounced the basketball and caught it again was priceless. I can’t say with certainty that he ever made a shot that day, but he was smiling the whole time, as were his new friends.

The next morning I walked into the office and found Emmanuel, all by himself, standing at the free throw line and shooting some hoops before chapel. He still had that big smile on his face.

Jeremy Rose, DWS candidate

On the final day of the January 2020 session as students prepared to leave for their homes, there were only a dozen or so left in the dining hall that afternoon. We were grabbing lunch as we waited for transportation to the airport. I sat with Emmanuel. The topic on our minds that day was travel and getting back to our families. I asked Emmanuel about his travel plans and about his journey. I will never forget him telling me about the grave danger he was going to be in on his journey home. He used the term “bandits” and told me of the troublemakers who threaten violence along major portions of the road between the airport and his home. I remember how foolish I felt because I was dreading my 5-hour flight to California. We prayed for one another before going our separate ways. I will never forget Emmanuel’s kindness and spiritual depth.

Eliseus Voma, Lutheran Church of Christ Nigeria, DWS student

Rev. Emmanuel & Juliana Bileya Saba,

Eliseus with Emmanuel & Juliana

My heart still bleeds at the reality of your brutal murder by those bloodthirsty folks who cherish taking the life of innocent people. I kept vigil throughout the night I was told the terrible news of your death with your dear wife Juliana, trying to figure out what the wickedness meted out by those evil folks could mean. And I have since been so devastated at the thought of your eight children whom your murderers have forced to suddenly become orphans in a difficult time like this.

How could I have believed that our recent talks about planning more elaborate worship trainings, symposia, and concerts for our two denominations (CRC-N and LCCN) would end there on the phone?

Emmanuel with Eliseus and former IWS Trustee Don Moen

Tears still roll with pain down my cheek as I remember the jokes with which you responded to our mentor Don Moen that day at the dining table at IWS when he asked “how we cope with the deadly insurgencies he reads about going on in Nigeria.” You prophetically spoke like a life-sacrificing man of faith, who, like Paul, would say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). True to your words, you chose not to run for fear of the threats of insurgents on your mission field, but rather you remained with your flock (the congregation of the Christian Reformed Church—Nigeria Mararaba Taraba State) where your life was eventually taken. I believe your lives are not lost in vain, rather your blood and that of your wife are seeds of sacrifice sown on the fertile hearts of a thousand and one unsaved souls that will eventually be yielded to the Lord of the harvest, to whom I am optimistic you and Juliana have gone.

Eliseus at the Bileya funeral

My tears aren’t drying over your sudden demise. The pain of losing a pillar like you cannot be ignored in any way. The heartbreak your murderers have caused the entire CRC-N family and the whole community of the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies are unquantifiable. However, I join those families and many more as we comfort and encourage ourselves in the Lord over this ugly situation. Our song at this point is: It is well with our souls.

Rest on! Rev. & Mrs. Saba. Rev.

Ricky Wong, DWS student

I met Pastor Emmanuel Bileya when I attended my first session at IWS in January 2019. He impressed me as a humble, kind, and humorous pastor. I introduced myself and said that I came from Hong Kong where the Kung Fu movie star Bruce Lee was born. He was interested in Bruce Lee and humbly asked me to teach him kung fu. Throughout the course, he imitated the weird cries of Bruce Lee to play with me every time I encountered him on campus.

In August 2019, he sent me a private message and prayed for the violent situation in Hong Kong. At the end of March, he sent another message saying that he was praying for the coronavirus pandemic in Hong Kong. I will not forget his kindness and sense of humor. I will see you, Pastor Emmanuel, one day with Jesus. May God comfort and take care of his children.

Jim Hart, D.W.S. 2002, IWS President

Jim shared personal memories of Emmanuel in a video conversation with Faith McDonnell.

Emmanuel’s Testimony

Emmanuel gave his testimony during the IWS Worship Seminar on January 7, 2019. In the audio recording [7:48], Emmanuel shares the dangers that are common in Nigeria. Click on the streaming audio below. The video recording [1:52] is an excerpt from the audio recording.

Emmanuel Bileya testimony. Introduction by Dr. Jim Hart.

Help the Bileya children

A designated fund has been established for Emmanuel and Juliana’s eight children. Please follow this link for information on how you may assist.


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Alumni Focus: Worship Course Launches in Hong Kong

By Cazaria Choi, D.W.S. 2020

Congratulations to Cazaria for her vision and zeal, and also to the fellow IWS alumni in Hong Kong who are working to bring worship renewal through training leaders in a new academic program at Evangel Seminary! This is HUGE! Bob Webber would be thrilled. It was his expressed vision that IWS graduates would initiate programs of worship study in their countries around the world. Thanks be to God!

Cazaria at Evangel Seminary

My IWS journey has been a gratifying experience. I believe God has used my studies at IWS to contribute to worship renewal in the churches of Hong Kong. Through my teaching in different seminaries in Hong Kong, the rich and mighty acts of God’s story can be reflected in various churches.

Last January, four IWS alumni—Philip Chan (D.W.S. 2005), Cheryl Hung (D.W.S. 2018), Irene Ku (D.W.S. 2020), and I—were encouraged and blessed to witness God’s great work in seventy-two graduates who completed the first Worship Studies Certificate course at Evangel Seminary. (See photos of the worship faculty and first graduating class below.)

After beginning my studies at IWS, I kept asking God how I could bring what I was learning at IWS to Hong Kong. In 2017, I proposed the need for a systematic course on worship studies for lay leaders at Evangel Seminary. As a result, the two-year certificate course on Worship Studies was designed. The curriculum includes four core modules: theological and biblical foundation, music, prayer and Scripture reading, and the four-fold order; and four elective modules: worship design, worship space, worship and spirituality, and the Church year. One of the most precious assurances is that God prepared the other three IWS alumni to be my co-workers. Surely the Almighty One is totally capable of accomplishing whatever he purposes.

The graduation ceremony was filled with the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. We were full of joy and gratitude. The students led worship through scripture presentation, choir, and worship teams. (It was like our practicums at IWS!) We were so grateful that we could apply what we had learned at IWS in designing the ceremony. I would like to express my deepest thanks to all the IWS faculty members for their impactful teaching.

This year, the second course with new students is taking place. By God’s grace, we have about seventy students. It is my hope that worship renewal can be achieved among churches in Hong Kong through equipping servant leaders in a vital manner.

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Presidential Address: Communion in a Time of Pandemic

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

In preparation for the June 2020 Session, which was totally online distance learning, Jim Hart discussed and explained how IWS would approach Communion during the session.

Dr. James Hart

In this coronavirus pandemic, the worship of God by his people has been significantly altered all over the world. The Christian faith is incarnational, predicated upon God himself taking on flesh, becoming human so that humans could become divine, or Christ-like. This is the foundation of our incarnational faith, and it is revealed in worship that is enfleshed, active, participatory, face-to-face. But, alas, in this pandemic, we have not been able to be fully incarnational in our worship experiences. We have been restrained from active participation in worship through touch, smell, taste. We can see and hear live streams, but we can’t fully experience the sensory incarnational togetherness of worship. How do we make sense of this longing, where do we go from here, and specifically, what are we at IWS doing this session?

The core of Christian worship has always been the two primary icons of Christ: our participation in his word spoken and broken, and our participation in his Eucharist. While the first we have been able to continue in this pandemic, the second we have not, at least not fully. Let me explain.

[Continue reading, or access the video recording …]

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Strength Out of Weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

By Dinelle Frankland, D.W.S., Academic Dean

Dr. Frankland delivered the Opening Convocation sermon, “Strength In Weakness,” in June 2019. I asked her if I could print her talk in Anamnesis. This article is a fresh version that also addresses current COVID-19 challenges.

In 2008, a golfer named J.P. Hayes was disqualified from a tournament for using an unapproved, illegal golf ball. The disqualification was not unusual or undeserved. What is striking about the loss is that the only person who knew that J.P. Hayes had used the wrong ball was J.P. Hayes. He discovered the ball at his hotel room while cleaning out his bag—no one else was around to see it. But, unable to live with the deception, he turned himself in. He lost his PGA status for the year, but his integrity was kept intact.

Sometimes a defeat is really a victory.

The Bible is filled with examples of God’s people leading out of weakness. Moses needed someone else to be his voice in order for him to speak for God. David, a boy with a slingshot, killed a giant. Gideon had an army with too many men, and God whittled it down to the appropriate size. Joshua fought the great battle of Jericho with his worship band. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and when finally reunited with them acknowledged that what they intended for harm, God intended for good.

Sometimes a defeat is really a victory. [Continue reading …]

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Alumni Updates

Bob Myers, D.W.S. 2007

Bob shares this update from Webber Institute Books.

“We have recently released two new books with a third on the way in the coming months. WIB books can be viewed and purchased through our webpage. The page also provides a link to more information if you are interested in publishing your book through Webber Institute Books.”

Recent Additions

Performing the Plays of the Bible: Seven Ancient Scripts and Our Journey to Return Them to the Stage by Jeff Barker and Thomas Boogaart

The narratives of the Scriptures have dramatic structure that suggests they were originally performed by the people of Israel. Performing the Plays of the Bible takes dramatic structure seriously and demonstrates how to move these ancient dramas from the page to the stage. Here is a book for everyone who wants to better understand the Scriptures.

Christ and Chaos: Biblical Keys to Ethical Questions by Gerald L. Borchert

This work alerts readers to crucial questions that relate to areas of concern with which college/theological students and Christians in general often wrestle. Briefly, these areas focus on ethical and theological issues under the designations of “On” Chaos, Equality/Discrimination, Integrity, Battles Christians Fight, Government and Politics, the Meaning of Salvation, Defining a Christian, the Spirit World, Freedom and the Will of God, Divorce and Remarriage, Homosexuality, Encountering the Dark Side, Death, Heaven and Eternity, and Christian Worship. A major Postscript addresses significant questions related to issues that are reaching into the future including: Refugees, Wealth, War, Euthanasia, Abortion, Birth Control and Sexual Activity, Genetic Engineering, Robotics and Transplants.

Music of Darkness: The Peril of Worshiping the Created Thing Rather Than the Creator by Brian Hedrick (D.W.S., 2008).

Idolatry is a sin, but can music actually be an idol? And is musical idolatry only found outside the church, or can it also be a temptation for Christian believers? This book explores the dynamics of this phenomenon in our modern culture, then proposes a prescription to restore music to its proper biblical perspective.

Webber Institute Books

Ouida Harding (D.W.S., 2012)

Ouida was named Director of the Costen Institute for Worship Leadership at Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta in July 2020. Two of her mentors are Dr. J. Wendell Mapson Jr., and Dr. Melva Wilson Costen (IWS Trustee Emerita), after whom the Institute is named. As the Director, Ouida will help the seminary build a collaborative learning environment where musicians, singers, liturgists, clergy, and other leaders can study the liturgy, theology, and historic liberative practices of African-American Christian worship.

Rod Snaterse (M.W.S., 2010 and D.W.S., 2013)

“After completing my IWS degrees, I briefly returned to my career as a Christian school teacher. Since then, I earned a Master of Education in Adult Learning, served as Professor of Christian Worship at Taylor Seminary, taught sessional courses at The King’s University, served as a Bible curriculum writer and faith formation consultant for The Prairie Centre for Christian Education, became an endorsed worship coach for the Christian Reformed Church in North America, and began a full-time career as a mental health educator for Alberta Health Services. In the new year I will teach a worship course at Vanguard College, and serve as adjunct online faculty for Prairie College’s new Master of Leadership program in Global Christian Education. Life, vocation, and ministry are diverse and exciting!”

Jayson Tam (D.W.S., 2018)

“This coming October, my wife, son and I will leave Hong Kong and move to Calgary, Canada. A Chinese church, The South Calgary Chinese Evangelical Free Church, has offered me a position as their Cantonese Congregation Lead Pastor. As you can imagine, it will be a big change for our family as new immigrants. It will take time to adapt to a very different culture, language, environment, and weather. But by God’s grace, I believe we can handle all these challenges. Please pray for us.”

Emily Vermilya (M.W.S., 2009 and D.W.S., 2012)

In July 2020, Emily Vermilya transitioned from her work as Executive Pastor at College Wesleyan Church (Marion, IN) to the Assistant Professor of Christian Worship at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. 

James Walraven (D.W.S., 2007)

James Walraven

Jim recently published the book Will God Save Everyone? Christian Universalism, Hell, Heaven, and the Scriptures (Redemption Press, 2020). This thorough refutation of Christian universalism examines the ancient heresy that says all will ultimately be saved through Christ and outlines the truths of Scripture on salvation through faith, heaven, and hell.

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Faculty Focus

Constance Cherry, D.Min.

In August 2019, Constance undertook a three-week, three city ministry tour in Australia. Spending a week in Perth and a week in Melbourne, she ministered with the Chinese Methodist Church of Australia, a denomination comprised of Chinese immigrants largely from Malaysia and Singapore. In both cities Constance was the featured speaker at their first ever denominational worship conference [see photo of Perth conference attendees below], led district pastors meetings, and preached in local churches. DWS student, Rev. Shirley Ling, served on the organizing committee on behalf of the denomination [see photo below].

Constance was also the guest of Hillsong College and Hillsong Church in Sydney for a week. Her invitation included a taped interview for Hillsong Creative Podcast. The podcast trains 12,000-15,000 Hillsong Church worship leaders worldwide. In addition, Constance was asked to speak to upper level Hillsong College students, address Sunday morning worship leaders, meet with administrators and teachers at Hillsong College, attend a staff meeting, and connect with Hillsong pastors.

Constance was recently a guest instructor, via Skype, for a session of the Lay Certificate Course in worship studies at China Graduate School of Theology. The invitation came from Professor Cazaria Choi (D.W.S. 2020), who teaches the certificate courses. [See photo below.]

For a long time, Constance has had it in her heart to create a worship discipleship curriculum for lay persons, helping them to discover the timeless foundational principles of worship for every believer. The congregational study is here: Worship Like Jesus: A Guide for Every Follower (Abingdon Press, 2019).

Constance produced an annotated worship service for Palm Sunday based on the Lessons and Carols model of King’s College, Cambridge. It is adaptable for any church size and worship style. “The Story of Holy Week through Scripture and Song: A Service in the Tradition of Lessons and Carols” has been published in Reformed Worship 134 (Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources), pp. 20-24. The Reformed Worship editorial staff has generously provided a free link to the article just for the IWS community that will be available through the end of August.

Constance was recently interviewed for a new podcast series sponsored by the Center for Congregational Song (a division of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada). “Voices United” is producing conversations with selected “congregational song enthusiasts” including John Bell, Timothy Dudley-Smith, Swee Hong Lim, and James Abbington, to name a few. Emmett Price, IWS Board of Trustees member, is also interviewed. Click here to listen to Constance’s podcast episode.

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IWS at the Calvin Worship Symposium

It was a pleasure to see and interact with many “IWSers” this past January at the annual worship symposium at Calvin University. The symposium is always a rich experience for inspiration, resources and networking. But you can’t beat the added blessing of reconnecting with IWS alumni, faculty, students and friends from around the world who attend.

Several presented during the symposium: Jeff Barker, Kai Ton Chau (D.W.S. 2011, IWS Board of Trustees), Satrina Reid (D.W.S. student), and Herbert Tsang (D.W.S. 2011).

About 46 IWS alumni, faculty/staff, students and friends attended the IWS Dinner Reception at the symposium hosted by Jim Hart and Kent Walters. See the smiling faces in the photos below.


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Accreditation Status Update

By Steve Huntley, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning

Dr. Steve Huntley has been involved with IWS since its inception, including the conducting of strategic planning workshops and serving on the Strategic Planning Committee. He earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership and M.Ed. in counselor education from the University of Florida, and the M.B.A. from the University of North Florida.

IWS is involved in a multi-year process (2017-21) of achieving institutional accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Although the Institute is already accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), an association of more than 150 predominantly undergraduate theological schools, in acquiring ATS accreditation IWS will affiliate with more than 270 graduate schools of theology.

After submitting its initial accreditation-seeking application in 2017, IWS leadership worked with ATS staff over the next few years through a variety of steps, especially as related to determining the extent to which IWS fulfills extensive graduate level accreditation standards. Included were both on-site and virtual interviews between ATS staff and IWS students, faculty, Board, staff and alumni. In 2018, IWS was granted ATS Associate Member status that launched the Institute into an extensive period of analysis and evaluation. During 2019, IWS leadership conducted a comprehensive institutional self-study focusing on various aspects of quality educational programs and services, which resulted in a formal self-study report being submitted to ATS in November 2019. Then, after reviewing the results of the self-study report, in February 2020, the ATS Board of Commissioners authorized a comprehensive evaluation team to conduct an on-campus visit.

The comprehensive evaluation team’s on-campus visit was scheduled during the June 2020 session; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s limitations on in-person meetings the team conducted stakeholder interviews via Zoom technology. A major focus of these virtual interviews was on how the evaluation team perceived IWS’s services and operations in light of ATS standards and the self-study report’s findings. Although the evaluation team’s recommendations related to its findings and ATS’s response are still being developed and finalized the visit was very positive.

The ATS Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on a recommendation to grant IWS institutional accreditation in February 2021.

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Emmett Price Worship Seminar: January 2021

It’s More than Entertainment: The Biblical and Theological Considerations of Black Christian Worship

While our June 2020 Seminar was canceled due to COVID-19, we have, at this point, rescheduled the seminar for Thursday-Friday, January 7-8, 2021, either in person or virtually.

Emmett Price

Dr. Emmett G. Price III is the Professor of Worship, Church & Culture, Dean of the Chapel, and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience (ISBCE) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies.

Seminar Description

Worship within the Afro-diasporic context is relational, experiential and transformational. Regardless of denomination, worship within the Black Christian context is liturgical. In these seminars, we will explore not only what makes Black Christian worship engaging, captivating and empowering, but also the biblical and theological considerations of how worshipers within this tradition imagine, experience and interact with God. This seminar, offered in the form of a liturgical experience, will be grounded in the Black Christian experience within the United States while referencing the broader African diaspora, with inspiration and resources applicable to all traditions and denominations.

Watch for further details.

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