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Global Praise Songleader Training Held in Richmond, VA, May 2009

by R. DeAndre Johnson

R. DeAndre Johnson (left) and Mark Bowman.
R. DeAndre Johnson (left) and Mark Bowman participated in the Global Praise Songleader training.
Image by: Felipe Castillo
Source: GBGM Administration
Participants in the Global Praise Songleader training gathered with instruments and music to work together to share and improve their skills.
Participants in the Global Praise Songleader training gathered with instruments and music to work together to share and improve their skills.
Image by: Felipe Castillo
Source: GBGM Administration

Liturgical interpathy is the effort to span the breach with others who may not share one's values, cultural assumptions or worldviews. It is the role of the [songleader] to facilitate liturgical interpathy at the crossroads of the axes of music and prayer.
--from Gather into One: Praying and Singing Globally by C. Michael Hawn, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003.

Earlier this spring, the Global Praise program of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church together with the United Methodist Women's division of Global Ministries held a weekend training event in Richmond, VA. The event gathered seasoned and upcoming songleaders from around the country together to share resources and experiences in hopes of providing a unique opportunity for cultivating the art of songleading and a passion for global music among United Methodists. Workshop facilitators included noted global songleaders such as Mark Bowman, DeLyn Celec, Andrew Donaldson, Dr. C. Michael Hawn, Jorge Lockward, Greg Scheer, and Rev. Debra Tyree. Together they led masterclasses in songleading with practical advice on issues ranging from teaching congregations how to sing in harmony to the fine art of drumming to vocal improvisation to learning how to incorporate global music into the liturgical framework.

The event also served as a recruitment tool for songleaders needed at the Schools of Christian Mission facilitated by the United Methodist Women. For the sake of contextualizing the need for more songleaders particularly gifted in global music, songleaders at the training event in Richmond were given extensive detail on the work of the United Methodist Women and their Schools of Christian Mission. These Schools utilize music and worship, with particular emphasis on global song, to educate those who attend on matters relating to social and spiritual concerns around the world. This year's plenary sessions will, among other things, focus on the plight of those living in Sudan as well as the nature of faithful Christian witness to Native Americans. Thus, global music plays a significant role in teaching others how to pray and stand in solidarity with those who live in a different cultural context, and the need for songleaders abounds.

Surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of the Richmond Hill Retreat Center those attending the Global Praise event found encouragement in their gifts and renewed passion for leading congregational song. Not only so, but many of us left having found new friends and comrades in the effort to enliven the Church's worship and unite its prayer through song. In my own ministry, while I have "dabbled" in the occasional Spanish or African refrain for World Communion Sunday, I received from this event a calling to dive deeper into the music and prayer of the Church universal. With capable leaders and friends to offer guidance and support, I now feel confident in leading my local congregation in prayer with those living in Palestine or Taiwan or Trinidad and Tobago, not patronistically, but with humility and sincerity of heart as befitting a people of God called to go into "all the world." To that end, I strongly encourage all pastors, church musicians and laity who have a passion for congregational singing and the faithful witness of the global church to be a part of any future global song training events; so that, "with one heart and mouth we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 15:4 NIV).


R. DeAndre Johnson is Director of Music and Worship at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Bryan, TX. May, 2009.


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Date posted: Jul 07, 2009