IWS Degree Opens Doors in Academia

While IWS offers professional degrees, institutions have pursued our graduates for academic positions given the proven nature and breadth of our programs and the reputation of our graduates. Recently, three alumni were appointed to influential positions in major institutions due, in part, to the their D.W.S. credentials. We celebrate these appointments! Bob Webber’s vision for worship renewal throughout the church continues to unfold to the glory of God!

Marc Brown, D.W.S. 2014

Assistant Professor of Church Music and Worship, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

“The search committee viewed my D.W.S. degree as a significant asset.”

Marc Brown

On August 1, after serving local churches for twenty-five years in full-time worship ministry, I began a full-time teaching position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as Assistant Professor of Church Music and Worship. With enthusiasm, I am looking forward to teaching courses in worship planning, methodology, theology of worship, applied voice, as well as directing a choral ensemble. While I will eventually work with bachelors, masters, and doctoral students, I will focus most of my efforts on the worship students at Texas Baptist College, the undergraduate students of Southwestern’s School of Church Music and Worship.

Southwestern is a Southern Baptist seminary but trains students from different worshiping traditions. Because of the diverse worship cultures represented at Southwestern, the search committee viewed my D.W.S. degree as a significant asset. IWS’s reputation for strong academics in worship renewal played a strong role in helping me follow God’s call as He focuses my work from leading in the local church to training the next generation of worship leaders. I will always be grateful for the friendships, mentoring, and learning I received during my time at IWS.

Jonathan Powers, D.W.S. 2013

Associate Dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of Mission and Ministry, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky

“IWS has played a significant role in my formation not only as a worship pastor but also as a scholar, teacher, and author.”

Jonathan Powers

In July, I was named the Associate Dean of the newly formed School of Mission and Ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary. In addition to my role as Associate Dean, I continue to teach courses in worship, sacramental theology, and lyrical theology. I’ve been blessed to contribute to a number of recent publications, including a chapter on worship and liturgy in the book The Next Methodism, a chapter on baptism in the book Exploring the Call, and a chapter on worship and preaching in The Cambridge Companion to American Protestantism. I served as general editor for the book New Life in the Risen Christ: A Wesleyan Theology of Baptism and the hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise, both of which will be released in the late fall of 2022. 

IWS has played a significant role in my formation not only as a worship pastor but also as a scholar, teacher, and author. My time at IWS helped me think critically about relationships that exist in worship, such as practice and theology, doxology and mission, congregational participation and cultural expression. These relationships have helped me navigate important issues of ecclesiology and lead conversations on what it means for the church to be both a gathered and sent people. These skills are part of what led to my appointment as the Associate Dean. Additionally, much of my writing and academic study has focused on topics that first piqued my interest during my time at IWS. For example, my IWS doctoral thesis has served as the basis for three chapters that have been published in collective works. I have been given numerous opportunities to speak and write on Robert Webber’s unique contributions to worship studies, especially given my current PhD work, which focuses on Webber’s practical worship theology. Students, administrators, and church leaders alike have appreciated the way IWS grounded me in historical and theological aspects of worship while helping me remain mindful of practical and contextual dynamics. Every day I am immensely grateful for the education and formation I received while at IWS.

Bill Wolf, D.W.S. 2018

Associate Professor of Worship & Theology and Director of the Worship Leadership and Creative Arts Ministry programs, Johnson University, Knoxville, Tennessee

“What I learned and experienced at IWS prepared me for this new position and I could not be more thankful.”

Bill Wolf

Last month, after eleven years as Dean of the Chapel at Johnson University, I was appointed to the faculty as Associate Professor of Worship & Theology and Director of the Worship Leadership and Creative Arts Ministry programs. To call this a dream position would be an understatement because when I started my career as a worship pastor I honestly never even dreamed such a position would be in my future. Eleven years ago, however, a single conversation took place that changed everything. 

As I was starting my new role as Dean of the Chapel in 2011, Johnson’s then president, Dr. Gary Weedman, introduced me to his friend and former colleague, Dinelle Frankland. “I know you are passionate about Worship Ministry,” Dr. Weedman began. “If you want to pursue it academically, there is no one better you could talk to.” Dinelle and I met in her office on a cold December day. She introduced me to the field of worship studies and, most importantly, to the place where I could go to fully immerse myself in it: The Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies. It was like the moment in 2 Kings 6 when Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened and he immediately saw the hills around them protected by a heavenly army. My eyes were opened to a reality of which I was, up to that point, completely unaware. Dr. Weedman was right. I had always been passionate about worship leading; Dinelle helped me see that worship leading could include worship teaching. 

I owe everything about my new position to that conversation. The years I spent at IWS earning my D.W.S. not only provided the academic credentials needed for such a position but also opened my mind and transformed my thinking about worship. What I learned in the classroom and experienced in chapel at IWS prepared me for this new position and I could not be more thankful. As with any new job, I recognize there will be an enormous learning curve. I am humbled and even nervous by all that I do not yet know about this role. But I am encouraged as there is no doubt God has been preparing me for such a position. And there is no doubt IWS played an integral role in that preparation. 

Click here to learn more about Master of Worship Studies and Doctor of Worship Studies degrees as well as our non-degree Graduate Certificate Programs.

About the author

Alumni Director, Practicum Professor, and DWS graduate.