Calvin Symposium on Worship – by Ellie Keller

March 17th, 2014

During J-term break, I had the privilege of attending the Calvin Symposium on Worship in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I attended the conference with 9 other students, and Doug Curry, the worship pastor at Messiah College.  Over the course of the three days, I attended workshops ranging from how to design a worship service, to contextualizing worship for Native American peoples.  Within the main worship services, Exodus was the chosen scripture for the week.  It was integrated into all of the services and was shared through song, scripture reading and drama.  Seeing scripture come to life is always a special experience, because it becomes more personal; seeing the story before you allows it to become more tangible.  Another aspect I really appreciated and was blown away by was the diversity represented at the conference.  There were over thirty countries at the symposium, all united for the purpose of learning about worship and how we, as leaders, can become more attune to the details of worship services.

If I had to choose a favorite seminar, I think it would be the workshop on contextualizing worship for Native American peoples.  I felt that it was important to attend this workshop as I am spending time on a Native American reservation this summer for missions work.  In this workshop, we learned about the history of the Native peoples, and there aren’t as many Christians among their people.  I learned that it is because of the white missionaries and the religion they forced upon the Native Americans that they drew away from the Christian faith.  As such, there are many even now that will not go back to Christianity because of everything that was impressed upon their ancestors long ago.  Our speakers gave tools to approaching the subject with Natives, and ways in which we can help make Christianity accessible to the Native American people.

One final key element I took away from the conference was related more to worship and Christianity as a whole.  And beyond that, what our faith should look like.  Dr. Constance Cherry shared tools with creating worship services that flow, that they are meaningful, that worship is about the community of believers, and so much more.  At the end of her workshop, she shared this Latin quote with us, and it has made an impression on my views of worship and my personal faith.  “Lex orandi, lex credendi, est.”  Translated, it means, as we worship and as we pray, so we believe.  Simply, it means that believe what we profess, and what we profess, we believe.  I think it’s a powerful statement even in its simplicity; what I say and do isn’t just for show, but it’s what I believe and profess to be true.

Being able to attend this conference was a blessing – I learned so much as a worship leader, and now have so many tools that I can use in my leadership, both here at Messiah College and out in the real world.  I am so thankful for everything I learned and I look forward to utilizing everything I was taught at Calvin.

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