May 2008                                                             Spring Edition                                               Issue #15

In This Issue

Click to go to the article.

·   From the editor

·   Faculty column

·   Worship Renewal in Canada

·   IWS News

·    Alumni Event 2008

·   Alumni Updates

·   Denver Regional

·   IWS Authors

























100 Years of Black Gospel Music in a Hour

James Abbington, MWS 504 professor, taught a session on Black Gospel music in January at Calvin College.  Click here for more info and to download the video or audio file of the session.























Book for the June Session

Jim Hart selected the book Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God's Narrative by Robert E. Webber for the June book discussion. It is published by Baker Books, 2008. Bob wrote this book just before he died.























Tribute to Bob Webber

On this first anniversary of Bob's homegoing (April 27), be inspired by a tribute written by D. Bruce Lockerbie, founder of Paideia, Inc.-- A Prophet's Call to Worship: Robert E. Webber To see other tributes and related links, click here.





















Don Saliers on music in worship

"Assessing the adequacy of music in praise of God is both aesthetic and theological. The musical idiom conveys a great deal about how the community conceives of God. Acoustic images reflect theological imagination at work. When the quality of music is grandiose or pompous, the projected image of God may contain more of the self-image of the worshiping community than the community realizes. When the quality of music is pleasant and folksy, the projected image of God may be strong on intimacy and ease, but lacking in awe or mystery. . . . Much depends on the language used to address God or to describe God's relation to the world and to human beings" (From Music and Theology, 28).


















Anamnetic minds want to know!

Please share your news with the IWS community.  Send me an email with a few details about your life, family, ministry. Anamnetic minds want to know!


















AEF 2008 Conference

On the Church:
The Continuation of God's Narrative

October 9-11
Northern Seminary, Lombard, IL

Intro letter from David Neff of the AEF Center.

Click here for more details.


















IWS Web site unified

The IWS Alumni Web site has been incorporated into the main IWS site, unifying our resources for ease of navigation.  All our pages can now be easily accessed from the dropdown menus on the IWS site. Have a look.

















Bob speaks

As most of you know, we have recently begun emailing the Webber Quote of the Week to the IWS community and other interested subscribers each Monday. You may easily forward any quote by using the link at the bottom of each email. Anyone may subscribe to receive the quotes on the Webber Quote of the Week Web page.

Add this or a similar icon as a hyperlink on your Web site.  Contact Kent Walters for more info.




From the Editor: "We're not exploring worship renewal"

It was a year ago today (May 1) that I began a season of sabbatical after resigning from the church where I had served for many years. Among the interesting experiences of the past year have been visits to numerous churches of various denominations in order to better understand the state of worship in our area. Sadly, much of what we have experienced is highly presentational, revealing, among other things, underlying values of consumerism and narcissism.

I have found similar sensibilities among pastors with whom I have spoken in my search for my next place of full-time ministry. For some, it appears  that worship style trumps all other concerns--including content. In a conversation with one pastor about the direction of worship in his church, he informed me, "We're not exploring issues of worship renewal." I consider this my latest example of "suffering in Bob's name!"

Worship in the church has always been threatened by voices that speak convincingly from culture. The pressure to attract and keep congregants drives worship choices in many churches. There is a desperate need for thoughtful, biblical theology applied in historically informed and culturally sensitive worship practice.

Through IWS, the voice of truth is sounding in and to churches today. You are on the front lines and you have a strategic role. Be encouraged and persevere faithfully in your high calling to celebrate the Gospel Story of Jesus Christ and bring worship renewal in your ministry context.

"May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance" (2 The. 3:5 NIV).

Grace and peace,
Kent Walters, DWS (Alpha, 2002)


Faculty Column: Intercessory Prayer

by Eric Bolger

Eric Bolger is our Academic Dean and MWS 501 professor. This Faculty Column features an excerpt from his recently published book, Journey into Intercession: A Practical Exploration of What the Bible Says About Intercessory Prayer, in which he examines ALL of the biblical passages dealing with intercessory prayer so that one may learn to pray biblically. The passages are presented in canonical order as 72 daily readings, each including both a commentary on the passage and also a practical exercise.


Day 10 - Jesus and the Blind Man at Bethsaida

Read Mark 8:22-30


This passage is unique in the gospels in that it shows Jesus performing a healing that is not instantaneous.  As in so many passages, others bring someone in need of healing to Jesus, who uses physical touch to bring healing.  After the second touch, the man’s eyes are opened and his sight fully restored.  Mark has placed this incident immediately before Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ (that is, the expected Old Testament Messiah).  This placement is probably to highlight the similarities between the physical blindness of the man, and the spiritual blindness of the many that do not recognize who Jesus really is.


Two key issues regarding intercessory prayer come to our attention in this passage.  One is the possibility of gradual or stepwise answers to our prayers.  The healing of the blind man does not occur instantaneously, and many times God’s answer to our prayers will not be immediately apparent.  This does not mean that we lack faith or that God is not hearing and responding.  John Calvin, the great sixteenth century reformer, believed that this stepwise healing showed that God is truly free in how he responds to our prayers.  Jesus has what John Calvin called “full liberty” in the way he heals, and sometimes his healing moves like a slow, steady stream rather than a raging rapids.  These are important points to remember when we pray for others.  God is the one who heals, and he does it in his way and in his time.  Once again, our faith is in his hearing and responding, not in how he will answer. 

The second key issue is the comparison of physical with spiritual blindness.  God is able and willing to heal both types of blindness.  As intercessors, it is important to pray not just for obvious physical needs.  We must also ask that God would, for example, lift spiritual misunderstanding from a person.  Such misunderstanding can keep a person from experiencing the many healing benefits of the kingdom of God.  Paul’s prayers, such as Ephesians 1:17-19, often appeal to God to help believers “see” spiritual reality more clearly.  We can feel confident in praying the same, and we will see specific ways of doing so when we study Paul’s prayers.


Thank God that he is free to respond to our prayers according to his own wisdom and timing, and that he knows our true needs.  Pray that he would give you patience and faith to accept his sovereign will with regard to your prayers.  Pray also that he would help you to see beyond the physical into the spiritual realm, and to be able to pray accordingly.  Thank him that he has given you the Holy Spirit to help you in this task.  Finally, thank God for hearing and responding to your prayer.

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Worship Renewal in the Chinese Churches
of Canada

by Herbert Tsang

Herbert Tsang, Ph.D. (Sigma, DWS candidate) is a gifted and hardworking kingdom servant, who is impacting the Chinese church in Canada and beyond. He is the music director and conductor of Sinfonia Mosaic and the Port Moody Pacific Grace MB Church Worship Choir, and serves as Dean of the Chinese Christian Church Music Institute for Worship (Canada). Herbert is busy as a guest conductor, lecturer and clinician, and is a published author and composer. Check out his Web site.

Canada is a country that is proud of being a multi-cultural society. According to the 2006 census by Statistics Canada, 31 million people called Canada their home with visible minorities making up 16% of the total population. South Asians became Canada's largest visible minority group in 2006, surpassing Chinese who had accounted for 24% of the visible minority population and 3.9% of the total Canadian population (approximately 1.2 million).

I have been living in Vancouver, British Columbia for over ten years. The Chinese community here is vibrant with the majority of the people coming from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. On any given Sunday morning in any Chinese church, you may expect to be presented with more than one worship service that share these three characteristics: 1) a minimum of two different languages being spoken (often three, Cantonese, Mandarin and English), 2) the blurred distinction of denominational characteristics, and 3) the English service almost exclusively attended by the younger generation.  These “characteristics” are due to the influx of Chinese Christians coming from different denominations and joining together to worship.  Among these worshippers there are also many newly converted Christians. The lack of inter-generational worship services is due to the language barrier. As a result, the English service is almost exclusively attended by the second generation CBC (Canadian Born Chinese).

In most Chinese Canadian churches the highest priority has been managing the tension that results from the complexity stated above.  Therefore, I felt the need to deepen my understanding of worship and be a better worshipper.  For that reason, I pursued studies in church music, theology, and recently I started the doctoral program at IWS.  After completion of the IWS program, it is my goal to serve the Chinese church community by introducing the biblical, historical, theological, spiritual, and cultural aspects of worship, and to promote and facilitate worship renewal.

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IWS Granted Candidate Status with ABHE

On February 19, 2008, the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) granted IWS Candidate Status, commending the Institute for its “progress and innovation.”

Candidate Status grants the Institute membership in the association, and also provides pre-accredited status. Pre-accredited status is granted by the ABHE to institutions that meet its Conditions of Eligibility, and provide a basis for achieving accreditation status within four years.

President Jim Hart commented, “This is a significant and critical step for the Institute.  It represents an outside independent organization’s affirmation of the quality of an IWS education, and its integrity in carrying out its mission and goals." (Click here to read more).

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Alumni Event 2008: June 14-17

There is still time to register for our fifth annual Alumni Event, which will feature a two-day workshop filled with wisdom, inspiration, and worship resources taught by Dr. Don Saliers: Humanity at Full Stretch: Worship and Spirituality Today.  Bob Webber was thrilled when he learned of his availability for this seminar.

Don taught with distinction at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta where he served as the William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship and Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program before he retired last year.  He continues to be active in speaking, writing, composing and leading retreats.

Dr. Saliers has written, edited and contributed to numerous books. Students of worship will be familiar with his works Worship as Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine (1994), Worship Come to Its Senses (1996), Worship and Spirituality (1996), and Music and Theology (2007). He also wrote a book with his daughter, Emily: A Song to Sing, a Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice (2006).  His most recent publication is a hymn collection, Sounding Glory: Hymns for the Church Year (2008), which includes traditional texts set to new tunes, new texts set to familiar tunes, and new texts set to new music in hymn style. 

Click here to see a more detailed biographical sketch.

The Alumni Gathering begins on Saturday, June 14, with a lunch hosted by President Jim Hart and Chaplain Darrell Harris and continues with a visit to a DWS or MWS class, social opportunities with fellow alumni, and participation in the Commencement Service on Sunday evening, June 15, in which alumni are invited to wear their regalia and process as guests of honor with the faculty and staff.

Follow the link below for more details and registration options. Please contact Kent Walters if you have questions.

See you in Orange Park in June!

Alumni Seminar 2008 Link

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Alumni Updates and News

Janie Blough, MWS (Beth 2006, DWS candidate)

Bob Webber’s influence extends to France.  Janie Blough recently taught a seminar at a church in Alsace (eastern France) that included three sessions on worship and a morning service. Janie and her husband, Neal, have served with the Mennonite Mission Network in Saint Maurice, France since 1975. They are on staff at the Paris Mennonite Center. Neal also teaches at the Vaux-sur-Seine Evangelical Seminary, the Mennonite Theology School (Bienenberg), and the Catholic University of Paris. Janie teaches adult English classes at the Center and worship in various settings. Both Neal and Janie serve as worship and preaching resources to the Mennonite congregation in Châtenay-Malabry and in other French Mennonite congregations.

Perry Chow, DWS (Theta, 2007)

Perry has accepted a visiting faculty member position at two Chinese seminaries in the San Francisco area (Christian Witness Theological Seminary and American Chinese Evangelical Seminary) where he will teach worship courses for Chinese worship leaders. Also, after serving as pastor at the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church for 11 years, God clearly led him to a new church. He has recently moved back to Hong Kong to serve as Senior Pastor at the ShauKeiWan Swatow Baptist Church.  Perry is pictured here with his wife Peggy at the 2007 IWS Commencement.

Bill Davis, DWS (Lambda, 2007)

Along with his work as Minister of Music at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Bill is teaching the course Worship Alive! at the Center for Biblical Studies in Tallahassee.  Bill writes, “The [content] is basically the DWS program crammed into one course!  I am also establishing a summer worship arts camp for children in south Alabama, north Florida and Southwest Georgia to be held at The Vineyard near Dothan, Alabama this June 9-13. It will feature the premiere of the musical Makin’ Room by Dennis and Nan Allen.  The camp will also include drama, painting as a worship art, video production, stomp, and more.  The goals of the camp are to assist in igniting a passion for worship in campers and faculty, and to develop talents that can be employed for worship over a lifetime."

Larry Ellis, MWS (Beth, 2005), DWS (Nu, 2008)

This past March Larry and his wife Jill, and Laura Ritter (IWS Registrar) enjoyed a trip to the Holy Land.  Jerry Borchert, who has led numerous trips to the region, organized the tour but was unable to lead the group due to a severe eye infection. Larry shared, "We were part of a 25-member group that went on an extensive tour of the Holy Land.  We were able to have a closing service together at the traditional site of Jesus’ tomb (one of the two claimed in Jerusalem). I was privileged to be the celebrant at the Eucharist at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem on Friday, March 14, 2008.  While from varied backgrounds, we all received the Eucharist using the Rite II Liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer. To see and experience the many sites that are discussed in the Bible was truly life-changing for us all."  Click on the photo thumbnails below to see larger pictures.

David Leetsma, DWS (Zeta, 2005)

As of February 1, Dave began serving as Executive Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas. His son-in-law, Brian Mann, is the Worship Director.  Click here for his new contact info.

Dan Perrin, DWS (Beta, 2002)

Dan lead a team to Spain last November where he taught sessions on worship.  Click here to read Dan's ministry report of the trip.  His current project is Generations, a musical production Dan wrote to reach Jewish audiences.  The production premiered the last weekend in April at Cedar Park Church in Bothell, WA  where he serves as Pastor of Choir and Productions.  He takes the production to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in October.

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Denver Area Regional Launches

Nancy Beyer (Rho, DWS candidate) facilitated the first Denver area IWS Regional in February.  The next meeting will expand to include students and alumni in the surrounding area.  The following is a brief report from Nancy and Larry Ellis (Nu, DWS 2008).  Click on the photo thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.

Nancy: "We had a wonderful evening together.  I arranged for the gathering because I have realized after only two sessions at IWS that I need to keep in touch with the community that I meet there. Being at IWS is a transfiguration experience. Coming down off the mountain to your daily work is difficult without the support of those who have had the same experience. The online work with my classmates is not quite enough for me because it really doesn’t touch on the journey of living out what we are learning, nor does it allow for the fellowship time to learn the “ins and outs” of the program at IWS from those who have gone before us. I had been longing for more structured times with alums and am very, very grateful that there is such a wonderful group in the Denver area who were willing to meet. I know we will continue to do so."

Larry: "In the photo left to right are Jon and Jada Swanson (both in 701), Nancy Beyer (in 702) and Jill Ellis and Larry Ellis, MWS, (DWS 2008).  We had a great time and enjoyed a wonderful Lenten dinner together along with a harp concert by Nancy and Nick Beyer's daughter, Elizabeth, who is a secondary education/history major at the University of Northern Colorado.  We talked about worship, churches, our lives, hopes and struggles."

To learn more about an IWS Regional in your area, contact Kent Walters.

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New Books by IWS Authors

Five new books by members of the IWS community have recently been published or are soon to be released.

Eric Bolger. Journey into Intercession: A Practical Exploration of What the Bible Says About Intercessory Prayer., 2007.  (See the Faculty Column above).

Gerald Borchert. Worship In The New Testament: Divine Mystery and Human Response. Chalice Press, (June 30, 2008).

Editorial Review: Gerald Borchert provides a unique survey of the New Testament by centering on its understanding, teaching, language, and reflections of worship. He seeks to show how worship language and action lie behind much of the New Testament and how the modern church can gain a new power in worship through renewed reflection on the New Testament. The author invites the reader to enter into the worship discussion and find ways to give depth, meaning, and hope to personal and congregational worship. At each step, Borchert underlines the deep connection between worship and life.

Brian Walrath (DWS 2002) and Robert Wood. The Message in the Music: Studying Contemporary Praise and Worship. Abingdon Press, 2007. 

The book addresses the textual and musical quality of praise and worship music.  Brian explains, “We examined the top 25 songs from the past 15 years of this genre in what we believe to be the first detailed, objective study of this worship music.” Jim Hart writes in the introduction, "This book provides an excellent framework for examining the theological and artistic content and impact of contemporary worship music. Contained herein are helpful, revealing, and at times sobering analyses.  It is an essential read for all those concerned with worship in today's church, and an important catalyst for future dialogue."

Robert Webber. Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting Gods Narrative. Baker Books, 2008.

Back Cover: God has a story. Worship does God's story. There is a crisis of worship today. The problem goes beyond matters of style--it is a crisis of content and of form. Worship in churches today is too often dead and dry, or busy and self-involved. Robert Webber attributes these problems to a loss of vision of God and of God's narrative in past, present, and future history. As he examines worship practices of Old Testament Israel and the early church, Webber uncovers ancient principles and practices that can reinvigorate our worship today and into the future. The final volume in Webber's acclaimed Ancient-Future series, Ancient-Future Worship is the culmination of a lifetime of study and reflection on Christian worship. Here is an urgent call to recover a vigorous, God-glorifying, transformative worship through the enactment and proclamation of God's glorious story. The road to the future, argues Webber, runs through the past.

Robert Webber. Who Gets to Narrate the World?: Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals. IVP Books, (May 30, 2008).  

Editorial Overview: Who gets to narrate the world? The late Robert Webber believed this question to be the most pressing issue of our time. Christianity in America, he preached, will not survive if Christians are not rooted in and informed by the uniquely Christian story that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the burden of Webber's final book. Convinced that American evangelicals are facing the demise of their entire way of life and faith, Webber challenges his readers to rise up and engage both the external and internal challenges confronting them today. This means that Christians must repent of their cultural accommodation and reclaim the unique story, the Christian story, that God has given them both to proclaim and to live.

Bob's books are available at a discounted rate through  For fast service you may call Sheryl Watkins at 630-510-8905.

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© 2008 The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies

Contact Information
Robert E. Webber
Institute for

Worship Studies
151 Kingsley Ave.
Orange Park, FL 32073
Ph: 904.262.2172
Fax: 904.278.2878

Director of Alumni Activities and Editor of Anamnesis
Kent Walters
7323 Westlane Ave.
Jenison, MI 49428
H: 616.457.5234
M: 616.304.9363