An Editor’s Review
Instead of printing book reviews this time, we’ve asked Emily to offer a brief review of the last twenty years of Reformed Worship from her perspective as outgoing editor. —RW Staff
Without a doubt, I’ve enjoyed most the opportunities I had to meet with many of you, both in worship and in workshops across North America and beyond. As much as I enjoyed editing articles and resources, and consulting by phone calls and letters, face-to-face contact with people was most rewarding and kept my feet on the ground.
I’ve found that direct listening and learning is needed to balance the studying and editing. Just now I’m thinking of a visit to a church with a reputation as—well, don’t try to fill in the blank. I’ve also found that it’s too easy and rarely helpful to put a label on a faceless place. Whenever I visit a church, labels and stereotypes melt away as we meet each other, worship together, and together learn more about what it means to grow in our understanding and practice of faithful worship. Every church has its own story, its own history, and it is a great joy to be part of different worshiping communities.
My joy increased when the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) began in 1997 under the leadership of John Witvliet. RW moved from cosponsoring regional summer conferences to gladly benefiting from the larger annual Calvin Symposium on Worship sponsored by CICW. Now CICW sponsors many regional events as well.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to participate in workshops, conferences, and consultations in twenty-five states, four provinces, and several countries overseas. I started as a staff member in the Christian Reformed Church, and that’s where I still have my church membership, gratefully so. But the broader experiences have increased my joy and my hunger for the day when denominational labels also will fade away, as we celebrate our unity in Christ.
Here’s a challenge to RW readers and the churches they represent. Consider worshiping with other Christians not only in small delegations at conferences, but also with whole congregations. Too many of us are too focused on our own local setting and miss the joy of richer contact with other Christians, as well as opportunities to deepen our prayers and service to others. I wish more people could have the experience of meeting face to face with Christians in other places, tasting as I have the beauty of fellowship with Christians whose challenges are very similar to and very different from ours.
This year, ask your worship committee to consider what it would be like to worship with other churches. Imagine choosing three congregations with whom to engage in a long-term partnership, preferably churches very different from your own:
- a congregation in your own neighborhood or nearby town. Perhaps you could hold an annual joint service, taking turns, with time for fellowship around tables afterwards.
- a congregation in another part of North America. After the devastation from Katrina, every congregation that subscribes to RW could partner with a congregation in the south of the United States. Think of ways that your youth groups and older members could join forces on trips to lend support. And think of ways that you could learn from them and receive from them as well. Our prayers and our worship would change.
- a congregation in another country. Even the smallest congregation has contacts with Christians in other countries, through family members, business contacts, or missionary support. Consider ways you could visit and be visited by members of a congregation in an Africa, Asia, South America, or Europe, if not through direct visits, then by correspondence and video-visits. One of the pastors who attended Symposium is about to start a ministry among Muslims in Paris. Talk about a challenging ministry! Praying at a distance is one thing, visiting and praying face to face is something quite different, as I learned on a trip to Egypt this past October.
Go to your council or session to build support for these partnerships. Brainstorm about how you could support one another, pray for each other, worship together. Your worship will deepen, as will your love for the Body of Christ.
The Next Twenty Years
Several challenges for RW have already been laid out this anniversary year by three wise leaders in guest editorials: Robert Webber (RW 77), Bert Polman (RW 78), and John Witvliet (RW 79). These challenges now face Joyce Borger, the new editor, and the rest of the staff. My prayer is that Reformed Worship will thrive, but more importantly, that the churches RW serves will be blessed by at least another twenty years of RW, as we listen and learn together.
CICW, REC, and WARC
I’m writing just now with two hats on: outgoing editor of Reformed Worship and ongoing Senior Research Fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW). Last July a worship team from the CICW joined delegates to the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC, www.recweb.org) meeting in Utrecht, the Netherlands. We were asked to prepare and lead worship each morning for two weeks with this very international group, with delegates mainly from Africa and Asia. During the meetings, the REC adopted a proposal to study worship and culture issues in member churches.
These meetings were very stimulating for all of us, especially for the Calvin College and seminary students to worship with and share three meals a day for two weeks with people from so many countries. Those contacts have resulted in many ongoing relationships.
At the REC meetings, CICW extended an invitation to the REC delegates in Utrecht to attend the January 2006 Symposium on Worship at Calvin. That invitation generated a great deal of interest; altogether more than fifty overseas guests from sixteen countries were able to attend the Symposium, joining more than 1,500 others who came from across North America. For our worship services at Symposium, we decided to build on that same rich theme, and we used the same two theme songs.
Right after Symposium, eight delegates from REC and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC, www.warc.org) met in Grand Rapids in a historic meeting, proposing the dissolution of their two bodies and the creation of a new body to be called the “World Reformed Communion.” There was rejoicing among the delegates at this historic step forward to strengthen the unity and witness of Reformed Christians. Some denominations are already members of both organizations; in the next few years all the member denominations of both REC and WARC will be considering this new communion.
These collaborations are wonderful, offering tangible expressions of the unity we have in Christ. For more reports, pictures, and sound files on Symposium 2006, see www.calvin.edu/worship.
The two theme songs chosen for the 2005 REC Assembly and for the 2006 Calvin Symposium on Worship are included in this issue: “Yesu azali awa” (p. 5) and “Surely, Surely” (this page). I composed “Surely, Surely” in Nigeria during the summer of 2004 as part of my preparation for the REC Assembly. We sang both of these songs many times, and have since started receiving notices of it being sung around the world with translations into many different languages, some of which we’re able to include here. I initially wrote “Surely, Surely” as a unison round, but so many requests came for accompaniment that I provide it here as a parting gift for RW subscribers and their congregations.
Here’s a gift idea for or from musicians in your congregation. Mercy, Mercy! is the title of an album of songs, many of which were arranged or performed by well-known church music composers and performers who suffered loss during the disaster in the Gulf Coast region last fall. One hundred percent of the retail cost ($20.00) will be split between the American Guild of Organists Hurricane Relief Fund and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians Hurricane Assistance Fund. Contents include “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” (arr. Boyer), “Nothing Can Trouble” (Taizé), “Adoramus Te” (Dubois), “Nobody Knows” (arr. Bell), “Healer of Our Every Ill” (Haugen), and many others. Order from GIA Publications:
1-800-442-1358 or www.giamusic.com.
The Reformed Worship Staff
My grateful thanks to a great staff to work with. Each of them works on any number of other products in addition to Reformed Worship at Faith Alive Resources (www.FaithAliveResources.org). —Emily R. Brink
Joyce Borger will become editor beginning with RW 81. As you might expect, that means that she has already been hard at work, since every issue begins more than six months before it is published. She joined us two years ago after graduating with an M.Div. from Calvin Theological Seminary and working as a research assistant at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. RW needed an associate editor, and both John Witvliet and I did our best to persuade her to apply for the position of associate editor. On a personal note, the whole staff has been cheering her on in another new role—as a single mom. In January she adopted a beautiful little girl, and I’ve been adopted as honorary grandmother.
So Joyce and I will continue to have lots of opportunity for interaction!
Administrative assistant Isabel Castro began working on RW a year ago, taking over from Lynn Setsma. Isabel organizes all materials from authors and keeps records. She recently also began taking over the copyright permissions process from Lynn, a major task, since we seek permissions not only for use in RW, but for churches to use those copyrighted materials with no need for further permission.
Frank Gutbrod is our designer. We send him the typed manuscripts, with layout ideas described in general terms, and he works to present each piece attractively. Attention given to the visual arts has increased greatly since we began twenty years ago, and Frank has greatly contributed to the look of RW.
Judy Hardy is managing editor for RW, and is also the journalistic editor, fine-tuning each article after I have edited for content. She is also the first person to see all the e-mail requests that come in via firstname.lastname@example.org. Many readers would be surprised to learn how often RW staff members serve as consultants to our readers.
Dean Heetderks is our art director and has been part of the staff since the very beginning—he predates me at CRC Publications, even though he’s much younger! He is the one who always starts drawing as we brainstorm together on visual ideas for RW, and he’s also gifted with words. A few years ago he started contributing the back cover column “Come and See,” which continues to generate much interest and appreciation.
There are other staff as well—our contract copyeditor Jodi VanWingerden (not pictured), and Tim Postuma and Rebecca Gigous of the marketing department of Faith Alive. Tim and Rebecca work on promoting RW, sending out thousands of subscription offers each year to mailing lists. You can do them, and all of us, a favor, by sending in gift subscriptions, or names and addresses of people who should be getting Reformed Worship!
Choristers Guild Directors Enrichment Conferences
Ashville, North Carolina, June 16-17
Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 16-17
Led by Mark Patterson, director of the Choristers Choir at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas. Contact the Choristers Guild: 972-271-1521, registrar@
Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) Conferences
Montreat, NC, June 18-23 and 25-30 (two identical conferences) “Look Who Gathers!”
Westminster, PA, July 9-14
“Extraordinary Stories for Ordinary Time”
PAM West, July 23-28
“A Cup of Cold Water: Ministry Mission Music”; 1-888-728-7228 ext 5288; email@example.com.
Seattle, WA, July 7-9
Annual meeting of the Association for Reformed & Liturgical Worship (AR&LW); contact Bruce Taylor for information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle, WA, July 9-14
“Worship in the Global Village: Diversity as Gift” is the theme of the annual Seattle Summer Institute of Liturgy and Worship at Seattle University. Contact www.seattleu.
Wenham, MA, July 9-15
“Contemporary Textiles: Beyond Banners,” a CIVA summer workshop at Gordon College featuring contemporary textiles, taught by Joanne Alberda. Contact http://www.civa.org/workshops.php
St. Paul, MN, July 11-15
Global Consultation on Music and Missions 2006, Bethel College. Over forty seminars and panels discussing topics related to music and the arts, missions, and indigenous worship around the world. www.gcommhome.org.
Grand Rapids, MI, July 12-14, 15
“Starting Here, Starting Now: How to Launch and Maintain a Successful Church Theater Group” In-depth, three-day drama workshop led by Friends of the Groom.
A separate one-day overview workshop on Christian drama will be offered the following Saturday. Cosponsored with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. www.calvin.edu/worship; 616-526-6088.
Greencastle, IN, July 16-20
“Hymns of the Heartland” is the theme for the annual conference of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, to be held at DePauw University. wwwthehymnsoci
ety.org; 1-800-the hymn; email@example.com.
Waco, TX, July 18-21
“Alleluia! Many Voices, One Song,” an annual church music conference at Baylor University, with the Choristers Guild. Contact www.baylor.edu/christian_music.
Grand Rapids, MI, July 24-28
“Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, and Other Occasional Services.” A course for audit or credit at Calvin Theological Seminary, studying the biblical, theological, and pastoral dimensions of celebrations of baptism, weddings, funerals, and occasional services such as ordinations, dedications, and commissioning services. Taught by John D. Witvliet. www.calvin.edu/worship; 616-526-6088; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gaithersburg, MD, August 9-12
Worship God 2006, a conference sponsored by Sovereign Grace Ministries at Covenant Life Church, with Bob Kauflin, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and others. Contact www.sovereigngraceministries.org/conferences/worship/.