The Worship and the Arts Symposium, entitled “Putting Words Together,” will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12, on campus, and is for anyone interested in singing in church.
The biennial symposium was delayed a year by the epidemic. Daytime activities are by registration but the finale, Community Evensong at 7pm in the Memorial Hall, is open to everyone.
Online registration is at https://www.bethelks.edu/worship-arts-registration-2022 (or call 316-284-5250). The cost per person is $35 (which includes lunch and dinner at Bethel’s cafeteria) but drops to $20 when three or more members of the same congregation register together.
The theme of the symposium is a new song, Words Together, that the Mennonite Church USA (with which Bethel is affiliated) was released in 2020, but it should be of interest to anyone for whom congregational singing is an important part of the Christian worship experience.
Henry Waters, Bethel’s new orchestra director and a member of the conference planning committee, who is also the music director of Plymouth Congregational Church, Wichita, said: “This is a song of excellent praise. Words Together is one of the hymns used.
“They come from so many styles, sounds, backgrounds, writers and designers. It’s really amazing.”
Resource persons for the symposium include six members of the Mennonite Worship and Hymn Committee, charged with planning, creating and producing the hymn, including Bradley Kauffman, Goshen, Ind., director of the project and the chief organizer (who managed the music groups at Hesston College) .
The others are Katie Graber, Columbus, Ohio; SaeJin Lee, Chicago; Cynthia Neufeld Smith, Topeka, Kan.; Adam Tice, Goshen; and Isaac Villegas, Chapel Hill, NC Rachel Epp Buller, professor of art and design at Bethel College, will also be a resource for the symposium.
Participants can attend general meetings and select discussion sessions on topics such as assembling a 21st century soundtrack; cultural worship; language and how it shapes and affects worship; Practical advice for keyboardists and accompanists to use Words Together; and the addition of visual arts to singing and worship, among others.
The latter is a special purpose Community Evensong at 7pm, open to anyone whether or not they attend the entire symposium.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own copies of Words Togetherbut there will be hymns that can be borrowed or purchased from the service.
Renee Reimer, a former Mennonite minister who is now a Bible and religion teacher at Bethel and on the conference’s organizing committee, said: “One of my favorite things . Words Together that is, it includes visible opportunities for worship in the midst of song.
I think the churches should do more in this, and this conference gives us opportunities to learn more about how we can do it.”
The Evensong program is built around 12 images found within Words Togetherand the worship images will include banner-sized images of the images in the hymnal.
Sister Renae Schmidt Peters, who teaches music at Bethel, added, “’Evensong’ is a service of music, readings and prayers held at the end of the day.
“Songs and Scripture readings [for this service] they are deliberately integrated with every work of art on view. ”
“I’m excited to sing … in the midst of worship,” Reimer said. “My hope is not only to hear the spirit when I sing with others, but also to see the spirit live among us.”
“This is a unique opportunity to perform music chosen by the people leading Evensong,” added Waters. “These are people who chose music for a reason and a purpose, and you get to experience singing with them [those] who did that. It is truly a wonderful opportunity.”
Heidi Regier Kreider, minister of the conference of the Western District of the Mennonite Church USA, said that she is very eager to connect with the members of the church and the wider community to have “singing, art and learning about the rich resources found in the church. Words Together a song of songs.
He continued: “In a world divided by pandemic and politics, the symposium is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with others, to celebrate the different perspectives we bring to worship, to highlight the gifts we share, and continue to innovate. a sense of hope and purpose.”
“The Words Together it’s clear that the songwriting is the result of a lot of care, collective effort and determination,” Peters said. “Most of the songs were written over the last 20 years.
“I look forward to learning new music and seeing the ways in which this rich resource can expand the language of religion and grow communities of worship.”
The Worship and the Arts Symposium at Bethel College is made possible by the Reimer-Boese Worship and the Arts Endowment, which celebrates the lives of Katharina Voth Reimer and Thomas U. Reimer, and Maria Schroeder Boese and Abraham L. Boese. The former are the parents, the latter are the birth parents of the donor Dr. Rosella Reimer Duerksen, whose birth parents died in infancy.
The workshops are intended to help Bethel College deliver lectures, music events, workshops or gatherings that focus on the arts as tools for faith communication. It is expected that, while some events may serve a group of college students, others will also serve the wider community.
Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is ranked #14 in Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor Colleges,” and #24 in US News & World Report rankings of “Best Regional Colleges in the Midwest,” both for 2022-23. Bethel is the only college or university in Kansas to be named a Campus Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT). For more information, see www.bethelks.edu