Anamnesis: The IWS Community Newsletter



From the Editor

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

Allegiance to Christ–Or Not

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Phil 3:10).

I’ve been meditating on this verse during Lent and Holy Week and have been challenged by what it means to really want to know (ginóskó) Christ–experientially. The desire to immediately experience his resurrection power is somewhat like skipping from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

Paul’s desire to really know Christ included a Holy Week-like experience with Jesus: “participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” One cannot experience resurrection living without first dying–death to sin and self, which is a supernatural work of God.

Do you want to know Christ? He was HATED (Is 53:3).

Allegiance to Christ brings hatred from the world (Jn 16:33). Unreasonable, cruel hatred of believers is first of all hatred of Christ (Jn 15:18-19).

Do you want to know Christ? He was CANCELED. (Is 53:8-9)

Canceling of words and beliefs comes first. When Christ’s teachings and actions couldn’t be stopped he was canceled once and for all, or so they thought.

Hatred and cancellation by the world are what Christ-followers can expect. Unless they choose to keep their allegiance private. Perhaps silent allegiance is no allegiance at all.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery
established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all
who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body
may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for Thursday in Easter Week, Book of Common Prayer

In Case You Missed It


NEW: IWS Interactive Webinars!

I’m excited for this new, creative alternative to our on-campus worship seminars during this season of pandemic-induced distance learning. You can easily “bring” your entire staff!

We launch the first in a series of four Spring webinars on Sat, April 17 with IWS grad and author Rory Noland.

See the article below for more information and how to register.

“We need to be as serious about developing godly character
as we are about honing our talents” (Rory Noland).


President’s Column: Ancient-Future Worship: What is it?

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

Dr. James Hart

As you probably know, the Apostles’ Creed is the faith statement for the IWS community. The historic creeds, Apostolic, Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian, provide excellent boundaries to theological beliefs and practices, as do other resources, such as homilies, apologies, essays and devotional writings of the fathers and mothers of the Church, medieval mystics, saints and theologians. Simply put, it is scripture as interpreted through the historic Great Tradition that creates the philosophical, theological, moral and devotional framework for our reflection on worship at IWS, but more to it, for how we should then live our lives in constant worship and mission.

[Continue reading and access the video recording of the Presidential Address here]


Congratulations, June 2020 Graduates!

The Alumni Association joyfully celebrates and welcomes the Class of 2020–thirty-four graduates who represent 8 nations and 3 continents.

  • IWS Thesis15 D.W.S.
  • 3 A.G.C.W.S
  • 16 M.W.S.

First virtual IWS Commencement

You are invited to join the pre-recorded Commencement ceremony that will premiere on Saturday, April 24, at 10:00 a.m. EDT (GMT -4) on the IWS Facebook page, allowing us to watch together and interact in realtime. Click here for more details on the virtual Commencement ceremony.

Plans are in process for the 2021 Commencement. An announcement is forthcoming.


Psalm-Shaped Worship: Reflections on Faithful Worship in the Psalms

By Eric W. Bolger, Ph.D., D.W.S. (Alpha 2002)

Dr. Bolger is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO, where he also teaches courses in Bible, theology, and worship. He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the IWS Board of Trustees. Eric taught MWS 501 Biblical Theology of Worship for 14 years, beginning with the inception of the MWS program, and served as the academic dean of IWS from 2007 to 2010.

Dr. Eric BolgerThe Book of Psalms is well known as the prayer book of Christians and Jews. Its 150 psalms explore the depths of human relationship with God, and therefore of human worship. This essay aims to reflect on some of the ways the Psalms shape (or should shape) our worship as Christians.

Worship is a central part of human relationship with God. David Peterson defines worship as “an engagement with God on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.”

The Psalms teach us how to engage with God. [Continue reading …]


Called Home

We mourn with those who mourn (Ro 12:15b).

We grieve the loss of treasured IWS family members who have been called to their eternal home in recent months.

Woodrow W. “Woody” Nail, D.W.S. 2012 (1940-2020)
Gordon Edward Jensen (1949-2020)

Rev’d. Dr. C. Wayne Freeberg (1941-2020)

Click on the individual names to read a commemoration of their lives and relationship with IWS.

We also grieve with several members of the IWS family who have recently lost close loved ones and dear friends. Thankfully, we do not grieve as others who have no hope (1 Th 4:13).


Alumni Updates

We rejoice with those who rejoice (Ro 12:15a).

Ro 12:15 comes to mind as I read these reports from fellow alumni! We celebrate the goodness of God in each story of blessing, ministry opportunity, and kingdom work. And each of these alumni would echo the psalmist’s prayer, “Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Ps 115:1).

Justin Addington (D.W.S. 2019)

Dr. Justin AddingtonJustin recently accepted the call to serve as Minister of Music and Organist at First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia. The congregation prides itself on being a historic yet progressive body with worship that is characterized as “liturgical and vibrant.” Justin will coordinate the church’s worship life, and he will preside over services each week from the console of the church’s 100-year-old pipe organ, the largest in the region. 

Jim Altizer (D.W.S. 2008)

Jim recently released two eBooks: Morning Conversations: Meditations from the Predawn Hours. Including declarations, admissions and confessions, the book plunges the reader into a raw and honest expedition of faith. Born from the author’s early morning rhythms of prayer, these offerings enable the reader to taste, feel and follow the trek toward Jesus. Solstice Souls: Compelling Stories from Extraordinary Lives. Step into the stories of ten compelling people who experienced life beyond their control. These short stories of real people, both familiar and not, will give a new feel of what life at the tipping point of history might have been like. Visit Jim’s webpage, Roadmaps for Worship.

David Belt (D.W.S. 2020)

Belt FamilyA few weeks after graduating in June 2020, I moved to Nashville, TN with my family for a wonderful job opportunity for my wife. After leading my family as full-time primary caretaker to our two beautiful toddlers, I occasionally serve as a worship director at different churches in the area while also working with children at LifeTime Fitness. My hope is to be in steady vocational music ministry at a local church in the near future, Lord willing. Lastly, I get to serve as the Songwriter Director for Art House North, connecting with artists around the country to facilitate “creative community for the common good.” If you’d like to share your song with other songwriters for feedback over Zoom, shoot me an email for details. Praying you all are safe, healthy, and walking in the awareness of God’s deep love for you. Peace! Visit David’s website here.

Steven Brooks (D.W.S. 2011)

Steven recently released The Week That Changed the World. The book reflects on the footsteps of Jesus as he walked through the last week of his earthly life. By reflecting upon the events of Holy Week, we gain a greater understanding of the mission of Jesus. It is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching week, one that leads to the most important event in history: the resurrection of Jesus, our Redeemer and King.

Linda Borecki (D.W.S. 2005)

Since the closing of Concordia University, Portland, I have become the editor for the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians magazine, In Tempo.  I would be glad to include articles by IWS grads regarding worship practice in sacramental communities. Contact me here.

Erik Buxton (D.W.S. 2014)

Buxton FamilyThis summer I will celebrate five years at the Fort Mill Church in Fort Mill, S.C., where I serve as the Worship Pastor. I oversee the single largest ministry in our church which is comprised of all artistic expressions in worship including music, drama, dance, spoken word and media production. I lead an enthusiastic team of paid and volunteer staff who faithfully serve our community week after week. I recently presented a session entitled, “The Rise of the Worship Performer and the Fall of Congregational Singing” at the Arise Music Conference in Cleveland, Tennessee. I offered them my rubric of “Theology, Text and Tune” to filter the myriad musical options available to worship leaders. We enjoyed an engaging and spirited discussion on the importance of thoughtful planning of the words we put on the lips (and hearts) of congregants. I encouraged attendees to prioritize the communal beauty of congregational singing above soloistic, performer-centered singing and to eschew the default of picking popular music over poignant messages. Thoughtfulness in planning lays the foundation for developing a worship community that keeps God as the object and the people as active participants.

Cazaria Choi (D.W.S. 2020)

Dr. Cazaria ChoiI’m rejoicing in how God is opening doors for worship studies in Hong Kong. In the past three years, more than 140 lay-leaders have been equipped in a two-year certificate course on worship studies at Evangel Seminary. God has been working out his plan and his timing is the best. After graduation from IWS, my next challenge will be serving as Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Program Director of Worship Studies at Evangel Seminary beginning in August. I will be in charge of a new master program on worship studies to be launched next year.

Bob Davies (M.W.S. 2008)

Bob retired in October 2019 after 40 years in full-time ministry. Since then, he has enjoyed being interim/sub organist at two local churches as well as recording many piano/organ duets and other music for virtual services at his home church, University Presbyterian in Seattle.

Larry Ellis (M.W.S. 2005, D.W.S. 2008)

Called Together coverLarry has just completed his sixth book, Called Together: Biblical Leadership for Women and Men, in which he concludes that the spiritual leadership of both women and men is critical for an authentic expression of the vision of Jesus for the church. The book will be released in the coming weeks. Larry continues to serve as a Teaching Assistant in Greg Wilde’s MWS 502 History of Christian Worship course.

Don Fugate (D.W.S. 2004)

Don FugateI just celebrated my 38th anniversary as Senior Pastor of Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose, California. I spent 24 of those years as Associate Pastor of Worship Ministries. I continue to serve on the Adjunct Faculty of Gateway Seminary teaching Pastoral Ministry, and I enjoy composing worship songs and choral pieces for our church. I wrote a new song during the COVID-19 season titled, “Jesus, I’m Sheltering in You.” We had some great Christmas outreach in 2020 through drive-in movies, a drive-through living nativity, and our online Christmas musical. I am greatly blessed to have my two sons serving as our worship leader and worship team drummer. That means that I get to see my 3 grandkids regularly! God is good. Deltoids forever!

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. Tony McNeil (D.W.S. 2009) was the first director (2014-2017).

Ouida writes: “Melva W. Costen, whose specialty is African American Christian worship, was my first instructor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA. Her leadership and inspiration reinforced my desire to establish standards for music ministry in the Black Baptist Church, which led me to study at IWS to pursue that goal. Upon hearing of my appointment as the director of the Costen Institute for Worship Leadership, Dr. Costen awarded me the designation of Melva Wilson Costen Scholar, and challenged me to continue the dialogue concerning the Racialdemics of our society in worship, in life, and in our communities. Guided by the Holy Spirit, I pray my work helps to strengthen the global community of faith.”

Brian Hedrick (D.W.S. 2008)

"Music of Darkness" book coverBrian is Assistant Pastor, Instrumental Music at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA. He writes: “On March 13, we live-streamed a concert to the people of Romania through a partnership with Global Missions Project. In a time when actual mission trips are not possible, this was a virtual mission trip for my 47-piece orchestra that reached as many as 6,000 people. My book, Music of Darkness: The Peril of Worshiping the Creation Over the Creator, has been well received. The dean of the music school at Southwestern Seminary is using it in his Theology of Pedagogy class already.

Cheryl Lindsey (D.W.S. 2018)

In November 2020, Cheryl became the Sermon Seeds Writer and Editor for the United Church of Christ, providing a weekly theological commentary based on the Revised Common Lectionary for use in sermon preparation. Sermon Seeds are published on the UCC website and used by pastors and preachers around the world. Read the official announcement of Cheryl’s appointment.

Johnny Markin (M.W.S. 2015, D.W.S. 2020)

Johnny Markin 20212021 is turning into a hopeful year following the challenges of 2020 when I lost my role as a pastor and a university lecturer due to COVID-19 restructuring. Recently, I have been recording an album of original contemporary songs based on the liturgy. It will be released in late spring. The support and affirmation of friends and colleagues have been life-giving. Beginning in late March, I will be doing a series of video blogs with Ryan Dahl, founder of PraiseCharts.com, in which we discuss liturgy and worship renewal from an evangelical point of view. Finally, Apologetics Canada will be interviewing me about my role in starting Worship Leader Institute, a mentoring ministry to worship leaders and churches in Canada and beyond. My time at IWS has richly prepared me for the doors that God is opening. I am looking forward to the day when we can gather in chapel again in Jacksonville to worship our God together!

Mike O’Brien (M.W.S. 2016)

Mike continues to serve the church at large through his church consultant company Three Streams Worship Training. He recently completed an interim assignment with Living Hope Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Kennesaw, GA, and is currently serving as interim worship director for Westminster Presbyterian, Charlotte, NC. Mike is also developing curricula and events for Vineyard Worship USA, which served over 600 students via online training in 2020.  Mike recently interviewed Marty Reardon (M.W.S. 2016), who is the worship pastor at Trinity Anglican Church in Atlanta, GA, on the Ferment Podcast. They discussed their studies at IWS and the joys of including liturgical structure in contemporary worship settings.  

Dyton Owen (D.W.S. 2009)

Dr. Dyton OwenEffective May 1, 2021, I will serve as Senior Pastor to Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. In addition to serving as the lead pastor, I will be working with the staff to enhance their current worship services, as well as develop new forms of worship to reach a broader segment of the city.

Bill Price (D.W.S. 2004)

Like many churches, mine was adversely affected by COVID-19. In July it became necessary to layoff eight staff members including me. My position was choral ministry director, not the primary worship leader, and since it’s not medically safe to have choirs singing, I was dismissed. Everyone grieved these staff changes, pastors, elders and congregation alike, but I understood the financial realities. 

But God is faithful and has provided. One of the elders recruits civilian contractors to work with the Coast Guard to do instructional design, and, with my degrees and experience in education, I was able to secure a one-year contract position, working from home (actually a pay increase from my church position!). Several church members generously shared with us financially to help during the interim. My hope is to stay here in Williamsburg, work from home. At least there’s some breathing space and a steady income for the next year while I discern God’s leading. I’m grateful for the IWS family and your prayers for me. I wonder if other IWS grads have similar COVID stories; maybe we could encourage each other during these difficult days.

Renée Runyon (D.W.S. 2018)

Renée and her husband, Rev. Dr. Daniel Runyon, have published 40 Days of Worship:  Rehearsing the Story of God. This dialogical worship resource uses the Revised Common Lectionary to create 40 worship experiences for churches, house fellowships, and individuals, following the liturgical calendar through Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. In each service, God speaks through his word and his people respond in prayer and singing. God speaks through his preaching servant in the homily and his people respond with obedience. Used in worship services for a Michigan retirement community, IWS President Dr. James R. Hart says this book is “a theologically rich and highly practical and accessible resource for church leaders, pastors and musicians, adaptable to numerous worship contexts.” 

Vinnie Zarletti (M.W.S. 2013, D.W.S. 2017)

Vinnie was recently named Dean of the College of Fine Arts at North Central University in Minneapolis, where he has taught the last six years most recently serving as Director of the School of Worship Arts and Associate Professor in the College of Fine Arts.

In making the announcement, Greg Leeper, VP for Academic Affairs, wrote, “During his time here, Dr. Zarletti has embodied what it means to be a North Central faculty member through his faithfulness in teaching, scholarship, service, and spiritual leadership. He is a beloved and effective teacher who cares deeply about both practice and theology in the worship life of the Church. Dr. Zarletti writes and publishes original music, leads worship at his church, and writes on the topic of worship.”

Vinnie says, “This is a huge honor for me and quite unusual considering my short tenure in the academy. Certainly, IWS has played a huge role in my career advancement including this new role.”


Faculty Updates: The Personal Side

This column typically features the academic work and accomplishments of our faculty. But during an online alumni gathering in January, I asked what the participants would most like to hear from the faculty. The response was “personal stories–what’s happening in their lives?” Here you go.

Constance Cherry

CCherry FamilyI grew up in the beautiful state of Michigan, but my places of ministerial service have taken me to Ohio, California, and Indiana. Coincidently (or providentially), over time my three brothers’ families and I have ended up in Indiana in our various professional capacities, so I enjoy being relatively close to them. I am the proud aunt of 11 outstanding nieces and nephews whom I enjoy very much. As they are now having families, I currently have 20 great nieces/nephews and counting. My family is a big part of my life.

My hobbies include playing the piano, learning to play the bass ukulele, traveling, Planet Fitness, and dining with friends. Marion is a small town but hey, we recently got a Panda Express and Dunkin Donut, so I’m good.

In 2020 I followed the unquestionable leading of the Lord to retire as Professor of Worship and Pastoral Ministry after 16 years on the faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University as head of the Worship Department. I was led to shift my emphasis to a wider venue of ministry to be available for some key worship-related initiatives which are now materializing. My retirement coincided with COVID-19 mandatory sheltering in place, and the church I still serve as pastor ceased in-person worship for many months; so, it has been a rather drastic adjustment all the way around in terms of person-to-person interaction for the past year. However, silence is golden, and I am emerging from this season having gained fresh insights from the Spirit for life and ministry.

Melody Kuphal

Greetings IWS family!

We have been traveling with our daughter, Alyssa, who is muddling her way through her senior year of high school while trying to choose a college and a major (or two!) to begin her college career Fall 2021. Our travels have taken us to Massachusetts (she awaits a decision from one school in that area), Colorado (The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs remains on her list), Texas (where the University of Northern Texas has extended the most generous offer so far), and Indiana (home to the final two schools that round out her top 5). May 1st is national decision day so the suspense will end soon!

Kuphal familyWith our son, Alex, making the best of his pandemic junior year at Bradley University, Kevin and I are looking forward to a belated 26th anniversary trip in Cancun right after we drop Alyssa off at college! We trust our 2 kitties, Toby and Cinder, to hold down the fort at home while we kick off the empty-nest season of our lives with ziplining, snorkeling, and lots of sunshine.

Our children’s choir has included in-person programming with masks and social distancing while some families choose to join us via Zoom during this pandemic time. A few weeks ago, one of my 1st-grade singers excitedly reported after choir, “Ms. Melody! I lost my tooth!” “That’s so exciting, Hannah! When did you lose it?” “Just now during choir!” At this point, Hannah opened her hand to reveal the tooth she had tucked into her pocket. (This was a first for me!)

Alan Rathe

Alan and Elissa RatheLike nearly all the world, Elissa and I have been holed up in our house for most of the past year.  Sure, we’ve ventured out for work and recreation, and have even gotten away for a few mini-vacations—but we’ve been indoors a lot.  Despite Zoom fatigue, we’ve enjoyed connecting with church folks, friends, colleagues, and family.  (In this photo, we’re thanking our young goddaughter for the comic book she wrote for us, featuring us both as superheroes.)  I’m glad to report that after a year of enforced closeness, Elissa and I are enjoying each other more, rather than less (God’s mercy!), and laughing together easily and freely. We’re thankful.

Dan Sharp

Sharp FamilyI retired from church ministry in June of 2019 and have continued to write Advent and Lenten devotionals each year since 2008. Since retiring, I’ve expanded them to include the fifty days of Eastertide and each of the Sundays of Epiphany. It keeps me fresh in teaching and feeds my soul in the process. They are free and you can subscribe at: sharpdevotional.com.

Some family news: Nancy and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on June 14, the first time since 1999 that we’ll be together on our anniversary. I was always at IWS teaching!  We have two grown sons. Jonathan and his family live in northern Wisconsin on a homestead farm with horses, dogs, and chickens so far. We have two grandchildren and another on the way. Jonathan is a software engineer working remotely for NVDIA. Our other son, Andrew is single and drives 18-wheel big rig semis all over the country. He is based in Orlando.

We have farmland in Illinois which we manage and visit each summer. Nancy and I are Cradle Care Givers, which means we take newborn babies from the hospital at birth that have been adopted and keep them while the adoption papers go through. We’ve had the newborns from two days to ten weeks. Nancy is a nurse and has worked as a doula, so this is right up her alley, and I get to do the baby thing all over. We have a nursery just like forty years ago! We love it. That’s it in a nutshell for the Sharps!


IWS Awarded Initial Accreditation with ATS

Congratulations, IWS! And heartfelt appreciation to everyone who worked very diligently to bring this to fruition!

On Friday evening, February 5, we received notice that the Commission on Accrediting of The Association of Theological Schools has granted us initial accreditation for the Master of Worship Studies and Doctor of Worship Studies degrees.

IWS was commended for, and encouraged to maintain and enhance, the following distinctive strengths:

  1. A clear understanding of the mission and vision of the institution, which is shared by the school’s various stakeholders.
  2. An ethos of learning in community characterized by a sense of mutual respect and humility among teachers and learners.
  3. The exceptional dedication of the faculty, administration, and board of trustees in serving the students in the context of global worship renewal.

[Click here to read the entire announcement by President Jim Hart.]


*NEW* IWS Interactive Worship Webinars *NEW*

Learn from and talk with the author

IWS webinars are LIVE Zoom sessions that include a short presentation by the author of a recently published book followed by a discussion based on your questions. They are designed to provide ongoing education, worship resources, and inspiration for worship planners and leaders.

Four webinars are scheduled in the coming months. Beyond the personal benefits you will realize, these sessions are great opportunities for you to provide cost-effective training for your leaders. Consider registering worship team members from your church or school.

IWS webinars are offered free of charge, but each registrant must purchase the author’s book in advance of the event in order to facilitate focused discussion and to generate compensation to the author for graciously making this possible. After you have registered for a webinar you will be sent the login link.

The Heart of the Artist Interactive Webinar on Saturday, April 17, 9:00-10:00 a.m. Eastern (GMT -5)

Our first webinar is with Rory Noland (M.W.S. 2015, D.W.S. 2018) who has just published the Second Edition of his popular book The Heart of the Artist.

Rory is the director of Heart of the Artist Ministries, a published songwriter, and author of four books. He leads retreats for artists, speaks at workshops and conferences, mentors worship leaders, and consults with churches on worship and the arts.

Click here for details and to register for the Rory Noland Webinar.

Future IWS Webinar Discussions

Glenn Packiam
Cultivating a Sacramental Imagination:
Reflections on Being Blessed, Broken, and Given
Saturday, May 1, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Eastern
Pre-Register for Glenn Packiam

Jeff Barker and Thomas Boogaart
Performing the Plays of the Bible
Saturday, May 22, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Pre-Register for Barker and Boogaart

Constance Cherry
Worship Like Jesus
Saturday, June 5, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Pre-Register for Constance Cherry


Read the Webber Quote of the Week

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NEW: IWS Interactive Webinars!

Are you seeking direction for a new worship ministry position or an executive/lead pastor position? The IWS alumni listed below may able to serve you. Contact any of them as they serve with an organization that matches churches looking for candidates, with no cost to you. Presently there are more ministries looking than possible candidates. It makes this step much easier for you, and as an IWS family, we can work together to help in your discernment process.

  • Gary Matthews (DWS, 2004)
    Email Gary
    Worship/Church Ministry Employment Advisor
  • Herb Armentrout (DWS, 2011)
    Email Herb
    Worship/Church Ministry Employment Advisor
  • Brad Moffett (DWS, 2005)
    Email Brad
    Worship/Church Ministry Employment Advisor
  • Luke Gambill (DWS, 2019)
    Email Luke
    Worship/Church Ministry Employment Advisor