James Abbington, known affectionately as “Jimmie” to his many friends, is a an amazingly versatile musician/scholar who is committed to the study and practice of worship music from the African American heritage. He is equally at home playing the piano, Hammond organ, or pipe organ; directing a choir; directing a conference; or composing, writing, and editing books and music on aspects of African American church music (see box).
Can Songs Bring Reconciliation? A Conversation I-to Loh, Patrick Matsikenyiri, Mary Oyer, and Pablo Sosa, with C. Michael Hawn, Moderator
The following conversation was recorded at Symposium 2003, the conference on worship and the arts held at Calvin College each January. Participating in the conversation were several giants in the field of global song for Christian worship who have much to offer Western Christians from their years of ministry throughout the world:
When I was the minister at a chapel situated on the edge of the University of Michigan campus, I would prop open the door to the outside so that I could watch the students walk by. As I sat in my office preparing the Sunday service or working on some of our weekday activities, 1 would frequently glance out the door, wondering who these students were and what it would take to engage them with the good news of Jesus Christ.
It isn’t often that listening to Scripture in a worship service is absolutely riveting. But listening to Dennis Dewey proclaim Scripture was one of the most powerful parts of COLAM 2001, a worship conference cosponsored by Reformed Worship and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Wheaton, Illinois. I spoke with him one afternoon during that conference.
Quentin Schultze asks many questions here that churches should be asking. Author of Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age (Baker, 2002), Schultze continues to study technological issues that affect worship planning and leadership. After reading “all of the literature I could find on technology and worship,” Schultze offers the following list of questions as a place to begin thinking, not as an exhaustive list.
We seem to be in the midst of a sea change in attitudes toward the visual, even in worship. For one thing, since the middle of the last century, a major change has been taking place in our visual environment. Whereas previously print culture predominated, with the rise of television and movies we have entered an era in which visual images are dominant and inescapable.
When we build, let us think that we build forever.” Nineteenth-century critic James Ruskin’s comment certainly doesn’t qualify as the watchword for today’s church architecture. These days, it might be more appropriate to think in terms of a decade.
Brother Ã‰mile (last names are not used in Taizé) is a French Canadian from northern Ontario. We met under an awning in the garden at Taizé during a hot July day. Little groups clustered nearby. In a place that avoids titles and roles, Brother Ã‰mile does a number of things, including Bible studies with the young adults who come to Taizé for a week and with the international team of volunteers that stay for a year.
John Bell has been avoiding me.
In the past few years, I’ve been increasingly nurtured by the music the Iona Community produces and distributes. But for most of that time, the hope that I would ever encounter Bell, perhaps its best-known member, had been diminishing.
WORSHIP COMMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
Members of the Worship Commission of the Christian Reformed Church who contributed to this discussion:
Victoria Cok, student, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Lisa De Boer, professor of art, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California.
Wayne A. Brouwer, pastor, Harderwyk Christian Reformed pastor, South Bend (Indiana) Christian Reformed Church.
David J. Diephouse, academic dean and provost, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.