Posts Tagged Presbyterian

Come to #MusiCon15


simple_graphicNew City Music Conference 2015 is shaping up. We are getting registrations slowly but I fully expect 2/3 of the conference to register at the last minute. I’m so thrilled to have our line up of speakers and breakout leaders. It seems to get better and better every time we pull one of these together. If you haven’t done it yet, please check out the conference details and register at www.ncfmusic.com/conference/

Carrie Jones is the conference director this time. Carrie was involved in the 2011 conference we had here in St. Louis as the graphic designer and she created the conference notebook which was so full of information and resources that people wanted to get the notebook even though they couldn’t attend the conference. Carrie is also a long time member of NCF (@NCFStLouis) and as well as a highly qualified musician on our team.

The conference steering committee was made up of myself (@kirkwardmusic), my dad (@jcalvinward), and my long time friend, Michelle Higgins (@fast_foodie). We went out to lunch when my dad was here in March and hammered out the rough outline of who and what will be featured at this year’s conference.

I hope that you consider coming. If you are from the local region, we would love to meet you or connect again with you to be able to encourage each other in the struggle. If you are from out of town, we would to meet and connect as well and to hear what is going on in other communities. So much has happened in our nation this year that has served to break down our facades and to reveal the areas where we are divided and broken. The gospel has the power to heal communities when it is planted in soil that will let it thrive and produce fruit. Let’s live the gospel of reconciliation and justice that is available to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Coming Down from the Mountain – New City Music Con

God is good! I know you are thinking that I need to take a break, but I can’t sleep in and my house is quiet so it’s a good time to reflect. It was great to see the pics that Neil Das has already posted froom the conference. Check them out here.

I want to share my personal favorite moments from this weeks conference:

  • The absolute explosion of celebration and activity on Tuesday night as Voice of Africa led us in worship. Emmanuel on the hand drums was a real treat.
  • Tony Myles sharing that he doesn’t know what a “Plenary Address” is so he’s just gonna preach.
  • My kids dancing and playing with Pastor Kevin VandenBrink’s daughter
  • Playing a “stankin” set with the NCF U City crew – God, my God, God is good!
  • My dad’s talk – a reminder that this is hard work, but the fruit is evident in the lives of the young people he has mentored
  • Jim Payne’s songs which revealed a deep passion for the gospel and a love of the craft of songs
  • Aloo Gobi – Zack said he’d make it “American Spicy”
  • Malcom Speed’s revealing personal experiences with some of the legends of gospel
  • It was great to see my Congolese friend, Nestor Biayi, affirmed in the African Style Class as he was called in from the back of the room to demonstrate Saben
  • Dr. Sánchez – conga, guitar, upright bass, vocals, and bringing some cool hard truth with wonderful class. We were so affirmed and challenged by his words. (Yes, that talk was recorded and will be available as soon as possible)
  • NCF- Chattanooga successfully did the work for me of picking tunes for the next year. I’m not sure that my team will let me rest until every one of those tunes is in our set.
  • Doing the electric slide – can we do that in church?
  • Jumping in on “Glorious” with Dr. Sánchez on the congas and clave
  • Redeemer PCA in Jackson standing as a family together as their composers shared their songs.
  • watching half the people in my “Into to Improvisation” class falling asleep – What do you expect when you put exhausted people  in a warm room on couches, after lunch. Next conference we’ll ask everyone to bring a yoga mat so that we can have nap time once a day.
  • Watching Paul Neeley get Joshua Saleem playing hand percussion
  • seeing my friend, Odetta Fields, come into her own as a choir director
  • Jeff Rakes humbly taking us to school with his tune “All Honor and Glory” – man, Jeff set a new standard for my flute player.
  • Seeing this cross cultural body of believers express their “heart song” in the form of “O Lord, How Excellent”
  • Carrie Knapp – that girl can sang.
  • Mike Higgins bringing us back to the promise that the curse is broken and the accuser has no power over me
  • I loved the spontaneous expression in singing “You Are Good” at the end of the night. I wish that we had been able to hear more from Jonathan Gramling from Dorchester.  What a voice!

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Why is October going to be “the jam”?

I’m swamped with extra work these days which is why my blog is being neglected. Here’s some of the stuff that’s going to rock about October (dare I say it – “ROCK-tober”):

October 3 – The Congolese Sunday

We’re going to stack the deck in favor of Congolese music and musicians. We’re even going to have the French house church basically function as the vocal team. It’s an experiment in reconciliation. We’ll be singing in French, Lingala and Swahili. If you’ve been to our church, you know that we usually sing one or two songs from African origins every Sunday. This Sunday will be a big shock for some. Here’s a taste:

October 8-10 – NCF Church Retreat

Our annual church retreat is a great time to relax, meet people, and jam for Jesus in the back woods. We usually have an opportunity to worship in a more informal and extended context at some point in the weekend. I look forward to that time to pull out all the songs that people love to sing with gusto. Let’s not forget the S’mores, too.

October 16 – NCF Choir rehearsals begin!

I am especially looking forward to this year’s choir season because for the first time, we’ll have a part-time choir director! Odetta Fields has accepted the position and I am confident that she will do an excellent job. We’ve already got the tunes for fall picked out and we’re totally pumped about what’s in store. I am hoping that being free of the leadership of the choir, I’ll be able to sustain more focus on the general aspects of worship and music shepherding. Here’s a taste of one of the choir tunes we’ll be singing. Notice the tasteful use of stage ferns in the clip:

October 20 – Jammin’ for Justice 2

I’ll be playing a short set of solo jazz guitar at this event for my friends, Joshua and Taylor Saleem. Hudson and the Hoodoo Cats are the headliners. Here’s some info from facebook:

MCU (Metropolitan Congregations United) for St. Louis presents a night of live music, food and fun to highlight our recent victories and to thank business and civic partners for their continued support for justice in our City. Featuring music from Hudson and the Hoodoo Cats, and food and beverages from Schlafly Tap Room. Fabulous silent auction and raffle along with great door prizes. Tickets are $30 each or $50/pair. Contact Kim Smith for tickets (314) 322-2389.

October 23 – Restore St Louis Benefit Dinner

The NCF choir will be singing a few tunes for the RSL crowd. I’m glad that we can be part of supporting this event. I’m working on a choral arrangement of the Compassion Art Project’s, “You Have Shown Us”.

October 31 – PCA Reformation Service at Chesterfield Presbyterian.

Despite the fact that Mike Honeycutt will be preaching, Chesterfield is hosting, and the choir anthem is my dad’s tune, “Who Can Separate Us?” I will not be in attendance. (It’s Halloween night, people! Is it wrong to skip the celebration of the Reformation by participating in a enculturated, glutonous, semi-Catholic holiday whose origins stem back to pagan rituals?) Here’s a taste of what I’ll be doing:

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Who Is Coming to the New City Fellowship Music Con?

Our church is participating in an exciting conference of music ministries who are committed to mission driven, multicultural music ministry. The conference is just two days in Chattanooga TN and it’s hosted by New City Fellowship in Glenwood. We’re bringing a few of our leaders and few of our up-and-coming leaders to both share and to learn with other ministries. Here’s a list of churches that I know of who have registered to participate (check out each church – how each is pursuing the same goals and mission as NCF. It’s so exciting!).

New City Fellowship  Glenwood – Chattanooga TN

New City Fellowship East Lake – Chattanooga TN

New City Fellowship University City – St Louis MO

New City Fellowship South City – St Louis MO

New City Fellowship – Ventnor NJ

Northminster Pres – Pheonix AZ

Pinelands PCA – Homestead FL

Redeemer PCA – Jackson MS

University Church – Athens GA

CenterPoint Church – Tallahassee FL

Faith Christian Fellowship – Baltimore MD

added 8/3/10 – Cornerstone Presbyterian – Stone Mountain GA

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New City Fellowship Music Conference

This August, our sister church New City Fellowship in Chattanooga TN is hosting a conference for churches that share a commitment to missional worship music that reflects cultural diversity. My dad, James Ward,  is putting it together and my church, New City Fellowship in St Louis is hoping to send a group of our music ministry leaders as well. It’s a great opportunity to learn from each other, encourage each other, and build a network of churches that can support and encourage each other toward the common vision of every tribe and tongue and nation worshiping together in unity. Here’s a link for you to learn more.

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The Boomers and another Twin Oaks visit

It was a pretty full weekend for me and my family. My fingers are hurting from so much playing. That’s a good feeling.

Friday night, I was able to finally participate in “The Boomers”, a rotating line-up of musicians under the leadership of the incomparable, Hal Bush. I have to take my hat off to Hal for what was the most impressive birthday party that I’ve ever attended. Hal’s wife Hiroko was turning 50, and Hal went all out to show how much he loved her. Playing with the Boomers gave me a chance to work on my “wedding band” chops. We played some Beatles and other assorted “oldies”. I played my first ever Chuck Barry-esque solo on “I Saw Her Standing There”.  A lot of our church community was there as well as a lot of Hal and Hiroko’s other friends and family. It was great to spend time just having a party and enjoying the spirit of celebration and community. Thank you, Hal. (It was also great to not be in charge!)

Saturday and Sunday included our usual rehearsals, but we had a special guests on Sunday. The Visions Gospel Choir from Washington University was at New City Fellowship and they shared a few songs. It was awesome to see this large choir of young people who are excited about singing praise to the King. My favorite moment of the morning was singing “Better Than Life” and hearing the choir over to my right blasting out in harmony.

Sunday night, we headed out once again to Twin Oaks Presbyterian to participate in the Sanctity of Human Life service. Lori Pagano, Tracy Bell and Parker Loveless joined me from NCF and Ryan McMillen from Chesterfield Presbyterian was there on the keys. Dale Zarlenga directed the choir and hooked us up with an excellent drummer and bass player from Twin Oaks (Nate and Brian). It was another great opportunity to connect with the PCA community in St Louis in deeper ways.

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More on “White Culture – a subsidiary role in worship at NCF”

My cousin, Sam, (yep, “Sam Ward” is a recurring name in our family tree) is a worship music guy over in Fort Wayne, IN and has an excellent blog that you should all read called Worship360. Please refrain from writing comments about how weird it is that my family produces so many creative types and have a look at Sam’s questions and comments in response to the stuff I posted the other day.

Here’s a few of Sam’s thoughts and my responses. (Dude, this is what I love about blogs!)

“… the question was asked, “How can your church still be recognized as a Presbyterian church?” as if the only distinctive was the version of hymnal in the pews…”

For me this question in the interview seems so odd. Why do we care about being recognized as Presbyterian? Don’t we care more about being recognized by a family resemblance to our big brother, Jesus Christ? And isn’t racial segregation one of the major signs of hypocrisy that make people reject the church?

“…we are to sacrificially serve each other as Christ did in all areas including our music choices…the way this plays out in a specific congregation might change based on the cultural make-up of the congregation…”

It’s true that if your town is all “X” and no “Y” then it would be silly to try to incorporate “Y” style music into your service. But what’s God’s universal will in this situation. Sam had an excellent post on his blog a few weeks ago about the difference between God’s universal will vs. God’s individual will (universal will=care for orphans; individual will=adopt an orphan.) God’s universal will is that we are all called to break down walls, be reconciled, and love our neighbor (and our enemy). How that looks for individuals will change. We have a sister church in Kenya, New City Fellowship in Nairobi, whose mission is to see Africans and South Asians reconciled in a worshiping community. That’s a unique vision that applies in Nairobi but would be kind of weird to attempt in Springfield, USA. I believe that every church is called by God’s universal will to humbly and honestly look at themselves and decide if their music planning is intentionally building trust between diverse tribes of people or whether their music planning is just building up taller and thicker walls of division. Mercy, mercy mercy! We can only do this by grace.

“Through my adoption experience, I’m realizing how much we as Christians define ourselves based on physical characteristics. It also seems to me that Paul encourages the church to attempt to avoid those types of classifications such as Jew or Greek, slave or free. So while we are to serve each other sacrificially, are we continuing to define ourselves simply based on biology instead of the spirit who makes us one family?”

Sam, this is a profound statement. Reading through “Adopted For Life” I am growing in my own appreciation for how amazing the doctrine of adoption is for all of us. In fact, this is one of the strongest arguments for reconciliation. We are new creations in Jesus, a family by his grace! However, I don’t believe that our adoption creates a “color-blind” church. There’s a temptation to say that God doesn’t care about race. God made a beautifully diverse world that Revelation 7 shows us will be diverse even in the new heavens and new earth.

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