7/16/2015 3:15:00 PM
CHICAGO (ELCA) – Gathering under the theme “Called to be a Living Voice,” members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will meet in Atlanta July 19-23 for the ELCA Worship Jubilee and the biennial conference of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.
“One of the gifts of this event is it offers an opportunity for people to truly share their voice, to share who they are as a Lutheran Christian in their own specific way. But to do it by collaborating with brothers and sisters you have never even met,” said the Rev. Kevin L. Strickland, ELCA director for worship.
According to Scott Weidler, ELCA program director for worship, the event theme includes three components that will help shape the week’s events: vocation, reformation and mission. He said the first focuses on “Martin Luther’s understanding of vocation, especially because it’s the part of the week that’s specifically designed for the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, which is about the vocation of the church musician.”
Weidler said the focus on reformation is two-fold, helping members prepare for the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, as well as providing avenues to consider the ongoing reformation and explore how God is calling the church today.
“One of the underlying goals is to help congregations start thinking now about appropriate ways to observe that anniversary in their congregations and in their synods and areas,” said Weidler, who emphasized that mission, the third component of the theme, “is at the heart of all worship.”
“Worship of the triune God is the very center of our life together as Christians,” said the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta. “It’s fitting that we should gather from time to time to look at how well our worship points the community to God and to our neighbors as a living voice of the good news we share in Jesus. We welcome the ELCA Worship Jubilee to Atlanta and look forward to introducing participants to our vibrant city and its historic places of worship.”
The Worship Jubilee will offer a diversity of worship experiences held at Atlanta’s churches. On Tuesday, July 21, participants will choose from among three evening worship locations: Central Presbyterian Church, the House of Rock – an emergent community out of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer -- and Ebenezer Baptist Church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., both served as pastors.
A music and arts event will be held Wednesday, July 22, at Atlanta’s historic Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. “The Church’s Journey in Art and Song” will feature chant and praise songs, German chorales and English hymns, contemporary gospel and American folk as well as songs from Asia, Africa and Latin America. The event will begin at 7 p.m. EDT. A live-stream of the event will be available at www.LivingVoice2015.org beginning at 6:45 p.m.
“We might worship differently, it might look and sound different, but the core is the same, and we can still be church together,” said Weidler. “That’s a huge emphasis that we’re trying to put forward and participants will see it in the worship life of the event.”
Participants will also have the opportunity to attend sessions and workshops led by prominent musicians and worship leaders from a variety of faith backgrounds. ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, along with the ELCA’s Strickland and Martin Seltz, publisher for worship, music and congregational life for Augsburg Fortress in Minneapolis, will lead a discussion based on Eaton’s four emphases for the ELCA: “We are church, we are Lutheran, we are church together, and we are church for the sake of the world.” Reflecting on this session, members will break into small groups to respond to questions about the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the future of worship in this church. Augsburg Fortress is the publishing ministry of the ELCA.
Other event speakers include: the Rev. R. Guy Erwin, bishop of the ELCA Southwest California Synod; James Abbington, associate professor of church music and worship at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta; Maggi Dawn, an ordained priest in the Church of England, composer of contemporary songs and hymns and a professor of performative theology and theology and poetry at Yale; and the Rev. Jan Michael Joncas, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, who is artist in residence and a research fellow in Catholic studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
“I look forward to great experiences of worshiping together, thinking deeply together about what God is up to and what we are up to in worship, and reflecting on our worship practices in Atlanta,” said the Rev. Jon V. Anderson, bishop of the ELCA Southwestern Minnesota Synod who is attending the event. “We are called to be stewards of the gospel. What happens in our communal worship life is one of the key places that stewardship unfolds.”
Scholarships to the event were awarded to 28 ELCA seminarians. Peter Carlson Schattauer, who is preparing to start a pastoral internship at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle, said he hopes the events will help him “learn about the ways in which our gatherings in communal worship can and should call us to be a living voice.
“As a seminarian, this call to be a living voice is central to my call and my understanding of the church's work in the world,” said Schattauer. “As we come upon the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the theme recalls for me the way in which worship is meant to form, re-form, and transform our lives for mission in the world. In our past, our present, and our future, worship is the place where we particularly encounter our living God who forms, re-forms and transforms us to be that living voice. It is the place where God forms us to speak a word of truth to the powerful and a word of comfort to the powerless.”
A delegation from The Lutheran World Federation will also attend events in Atlanta. Representatives are members of the International Worship Planning Committee for the communion’s 2017 assembly in Namibia. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 145 churches representing more than 72 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
“We celebrate Luther's central emphasis that we are saved by grace through faith,” said Stephen M. Larson, coordinator for The Lutheran World Federation’s International Worship Planning Committee. “Our hope is to listen and learn as we enter into the worship life of the Jubilee. What experiences from ELCA worship life can come to life in the Namibian context in 2017? What new anthem will voice our praise, what (song of mourning) or kyrie will accompany our sorrow?” said Larson. “‘Called to be a Living Voice’ reminds us that reformation isn't ancient history. It's on-going and perpetual.”
More information about the ELCA Worship Jubilee is available at www.livingvoice2015.org/. Information about the observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is available at www.ELCA500.org.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.