James Ward circa 1987


It’s amazing what Google can unearth from the bowels of the World Wide Web. I did a search on “New City Fellowship” and a few pages in, I discovered this archived interview that my father, James Ward, did for Reformed Worship in 1987 about being a music director in a multi-cultural Presbyterian church. It’s cool to read his responses and to think about NCF Chattanooga in those days when I was only 8 years old.
Harry Boonstra did the interview. I don’t know what his personal position on worship was but he asked some great questions that Reformed Worship readers would want to know the answer to. As a NCF kid, I never questioned why we do what we do because it’s all I’ve known, but it is a good reminder to see just how bizarre NCF still is to a lot of people.
Some questions that I particularly liked:
Q. The reason for not singing from the Scottish Psalter is that it would be foreign to the church?
Q. How can your church still be recognized as a Presbyterian church?
Q. The Church Growth people say that a church is most likely to grow if it is as uniform as possible in terms of income and race and social status. Why have an intercultural, interracial church? Aren’t you putting up barriers to people joining?
Q. On the question of diversity— most of our readers are from middle class, homogeneous churches. Should white, suburban churches deliberately, in their choice of music, borrow from other traditions, such as black gospel? Or would that seem contrived?
Q. Let me put the music question another way: If New City gets rich enough to buy a pipe organ, would you vote for that purchase?

Read the whole interview; it’s worth it!

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  1. #1 by Heidi Vincent on August 4, 2006 - 2:05 pm

    Thanks Kirk, the interview was well worth a read! It made me think; if the same questions were posed to NCF today, the answers may be considered EVEN MORE stretching to the typical churchgoing reader. By this I mean, you would be able to talk not only about the need for the predominate culture (white) to borrow from the rich and beautiful traditions of the less privileged culture (black), but the additional need for the predominate culture (still white) to borrow from the international cultures joining the church as well. For us this has meant WE NEED to-or should I say-WE GET to pull from the rich traditions of the immigrant communities…Hooray to worshiping with African Americans, Africans, Latin Americans and beyond!

  2. #2 by kirk on August 4, 2006 - 2:22 pm

    amen!

  3. #3 by Rob Hatch on August 5, 2006 - 7:09 am

    Thanks for the link Kirk. Its interesting to look back and wonder at God’s faitfulness as New City has grown into the large church your dad feared. I hope we have been able to keep some distinctives, and we certainly have appreciated the changes we see in the broader church culture around us (espeicaliy in the PCA). I am glad we didn’t put a pipe organ up in the stage remodel! And that the current argument is all about where to put the leslie speaker!
    Take Care.

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