November 2010                                                            Fall Edition                                                   Issue #24

In This Issue

Click to go to the article.

·   From the editor

·   President's column

·   Faculty column: Eric Bolger on catechesis

·   Alumni focus: Chris Alford's ruinous story

·   Simon Chan endorses IWS

·   January worship seminar

·   Constance Cherry teaches in Europe

·   Alumni and student news

·   New academic dean

















January Worship Seminar

January 10-11 with
Dr. Don L. Davis

Founder and Director of The Urban Ministries Institute
























Robert Webber a Wheaton Hero

Bob was dubbed the "Twilight Convergence" hero on the humorous, not to be taken seriously blog, Wheaton Heroes.  Click the link to read the article, "Liturgical Attraction," which includes a Christianity vs. vampire worldview quiz!























Congratulations Rev'd. Dr. Wilde

Greg graduated this spring from the School of Theology at Sewanee and was ordained to the priesthood in August at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus, Georgia.





















Carla Waterman launches new Website and blog

Check out Carla's new site where, among other things, you may interact with her in "A Sparrows Nest" and read about her newest venture, a Faith Formation partnership between Northern Seminary and the Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center.






























What is your "ruinous" story?

Everyone of us has one. In God's plan, he has chosen to "ruin" many through IWS. Please contact me and share your chapter.







































Simon Chan Seminar Audio

MP3 files of the June worship seminar along with seminar notes (PDF) are available on the IWS website. This is outstanding teaching by "one of the very best in the world" (quoting IWS Board Chairman, Luder Whitlock).


























Don Davis on
the Apostolic Tradition

"In order to renew our personal and corporate walks in the contemporary church we must simply return and rediscover our Sacred Roots, i.e., the core beliefs, practices, and commitments of the Christian faith. These roots are neither sectarian nor provincial, but are rather cherished and recognized by all believers everywhere, at all times."

(Don L. Davis, Sacred Roots: A Primer on Retrieving the Great Tradition, (Wichita, KS: The Urban Ministry Institute), 2010), 53.





















Cherry interview on "Centered"

An interview with Constance Cherry on the topic of Christian worship was broadcast on the radio program "Centered" on August 22. Click the link to access the interview: Centered Online. An mp3 file is also available on the IWS website.

















Book for the January Session

IWS endorses and recommends all members of the IWS community read James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009). Plan to hear Dr. Smith at one of our 2012 worship seminars.








From the Editor: Ancient Future Applied

More and more, we are hearing of churches that are strategically applying ancient future principles to the benefit of their congregations and the praise of God. This edition features two such stories from the IWS community: Eric Bolger shares how his church is doing catechesis in a free church setting, and Chris Alford describes a new ancient future church plant in Sacramento called Epiclesis.

Sharing our stories, no matter how small they may seem, is significant. They often provide inspiration, encouragement and resources for our colleagues who are seeking to impact their churches with biblical worship principles.

Please share what is happening in your area of ministry. Contact me via email--let's talk!

The Lord be with you!

Kent Walters, D.W.S. (Alpha 2002)

President's Column: Transcultural Worship
by Dr. Jim Hart

Over the past four years it seems that God has been leading IWS in a previously unplanned direction. In February of 2007, we discovered that we needed to add a class to the Masters curriculum to meet accreditation standards. Dr. Eric Bolger, then Academic Dean, and I suggested to Bob Webber that the class be titled, “Worship in a Transcultural World.” The emphasis was to be on multicultural/intercultural/transcultural developments and sensibilities in worship with a focus on contextualization of biblically, theologically and historically informed worship practices. Dr. James Abbington was the first professor for that course. Because of  Dr. Abbington’s very busy schedule of teaching at Candler School of Theology, guest lecturing, writing and doing GIA workshops, we have had to add other professors to that course. Dr. C. Michael Hawn started teaching in the “rotation” last summer, and this winter we are adding Paul Neeley, President and CEO of the International Council of Ethnodoxologists. 

Several IWS students have significant involvement with this discipline of ethnodoxology, or transcultural worship, including DWS student Frank Fortunato, who is a published author on the subject, and MWS student Bill Drake, International Music Minister for Operation Mobilization. Of course, many of our graduates and students are leading worship and teaching in transcultural contexts such as Argentina, China, Costa Rica, France, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and Vietnam. This semester we will be welcoming our first African student from Ethiopia.

I recently received this message from DWS student Alan Shoumaker (Minister of Music at Jefferson Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, LA), which reveals a truly unique and moving approach to transcultural ministry:

Since August, I have been involved in a very unusual teaching assignment. I have been traveling to Angola State Penitentiary each week teaching the course Worship Perspectives for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. My class is made up of 90 murderers and rapists, 85% of which will die at Angola. This has been a life-changing experience for me, and it has profoundly impacted the way I think about the church year and marking time. For the past three weeks we have been studying the Christian Year, and the PowerPoint presentations from DWS 703 have been very helpful. My students especially enjoy the colorful charts of the Hebrew Festivals!

Part of my project for 703 originally called for producing an Advent Devotional Booklet for use with my congregation.  But I have changed the nature of the booklet, instead using it as a publication for the prison. My students have each written Advent devotionals that I will compile into a booklet and circulate at the prison for the inmates to use during Advent. I believe this could really have an impact on the students/inmates who have a very different perspective on marking time, which is reflected in their writings relative to Advent—very touching stories in many cases.

As America gravitates toward becoming a minority nation (with no single, identifiable ethnic majority), the profile for needed training in transcultural worship is significantly raised. Dr. Don Davis, our worship seminar speaker this January, will be addressing this issue in his talks relating to the Story of God as it is contextualized in postmodern culture. I strongly encourage you to attend this timely seminar as we explore together how we can reenact and embody the Gospel through worship that is expressed in multiple cultural contexts.

The Lord be with you!

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Faculty Column: Free Church Catechesis
by Eric Bolger

The church I attend, Harvest Evangelical Free Church in Branson, Missouri, is doing something most members thought we never would: talking seriously about catechesis

People who attend Harvest typically come from the Free Church tradition. Words like catechesis and catechism, for them, raise fears of stale, lifeless memorization of information. Some associate these words in an unfortunately negative way with Roman Catholicism.

There’s a change in the wind, however.  Harvest’s leaders recognized the general lack of knowledge about The Faith that characterizes even the most passionate, God-loving people. This same recognition is common today throughout evangelicalism. In fact, two authors with impeccable evangelical credentials, J. I. Packer and Gary Parrett, have written a detailed defense of catechesis called Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way (Baker, 2010). This book provided impetus for Harvest to develop a Free Church-friendly approach to the historic discipline of catechesis.

So what is Harvest doing? Our emphasis on catechesis began the first Sunday in September. On that day I began a month long sermon series that gave a biblical basis and historical overview of catechesis and an overview of the Apostles’ Creed (audio recordings and PowerPoint presentations of all the sermons referred to in this article are available at The Apostles’ Creed was chosen because, as Packer and Parrett state, it is one of four historic pillars in the Church’s catechesis. The others are the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Sacraments. 

After each of the sermons, the congregation was invited to discuss the teaching as part of our second hour activities. (We have only one service each Sunday, which is at 9 a.m. We have, for many years, discussed the teaching of the sermon during the 10:45-11:45 hour.) These discussions provided opportunity for clarification of key points, and for some who were struggling with aspects of catechesis to express their questions and concerns. 

For example, some of our people come from traditions that are non-creedal, or even anti-creedal (“No creed but Christ!”). These people were able to ask about why we would use a creed when we have the Bible. Others were able to ask about the meaning of difficult parts of the Apostles’ Creed such as “He descended to the dead” and “holy catholic Church.”

We also took steps to make the church’s focus on catechesis inclusive of all ages. During the worship service we handed out printed copies of the Apostles’ Creed and challenged the children who could read to show their parents how well they could memorize it (which they did in record time).  We also made the Creed a part of what our children and youth study this year, and many of our community groups are centering their discussions on the Creed.

Two books that were very helpful in this emphasis are by the respected British theologian Alister McGrath. The first is “I Believe:” Exploring the Apostles’ Creed, which offers an accessible introduction to the Creed. The second is Theology: The Basics, which provides an overview of the Christian faith following the outline of the Apostles’ Creed. Many in the congregation chose to purchase one or both of these books.

In October we began a sermon series that explores the Apostles’ Creed in some depth. The topic this month is “faith,” corresponding to the first words of the Creed, “I believe.” In November the topic will be “God,” corresponding to the next part of the Creed, “in God, the Father almighty.” 

In December we will take a break from the Creed and teach on the Sacrament variously known as Communion, the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, and breaking bread.  In January we’ll resume the Apostles’ Creed, working our way through it for most of the first eight months of 2011. Another break from the Creed will occur, however, during the season of Lent, when all ages will focus on learning (and learning to pray!) the Lord’s Prayer. In September 2011 we will begin an in depth study of the Ten Commandments, thus covering the four pillars of catechesis listed above.

So far the response to this emphasis at Harvest has been enthusiastic. I believe that Christians know they should be better grounded in their faith, but are not sure how to make this happen. They also know that their church should help them in this grounding, yet so many churches seem to talk more about such discipleship than actually doing it. The enthusiasm we have seen at Harvest comes from people’s excitement that the roots of their faith are growing deeper, that their knowledge of both God and his revealed truth is increasing, and that these things are happening in the context of the entire Harvest community.

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Alumni Focus: Another "Ruinous" Story

by Chris Alford

You are about to be introduced to another story of God's incredible, "ruinous" work. Chris Alford (DWS, Alpha 2002) shares his journey of living out a passion for worship renewal that the Lord instilled in his heart through Bob Webber and IWS. I have been thrilled to follow Chris' work as it has unfolded through the unique church plant, Epiclesis. Every member of the IWS community needs to see what the Lord is doing here. You must visit the church's website. For one thing, you will discover that the church's e-newsletter is a thoughtfully crafted discipleship tool to nurture true worshipers. Check out the newsletter archive here; then page down to join the mailing list as I have.

My story is likely yours, too—or at least part of it. May I explain?

At the graduation of the inaugural “Alpha” class of IWS, our beloved Bob Webber revealed to us eager grads that he had been praying that our experience would be “ruinous.” Heaven help us, that is what he said: “Ruinous.” Mine has been. And I’ll bet yours has, too.

There is an epidemic among us, IWS colleagues. The “ruinous” part is the epidemic—and that’s almost entirely good—but the fallout has sometimes been terribly painful, especially for some who labor in difficult situations. Some have been fundamentally changed at IWS, only to return home and have little or no institutional authority to implement what was learned and experienced. Still others have returned to leaders who are even hostile to ideas of worship renewal.

Not long after my graduation, our family moved to California with high hopes and prayers when I answered the call of a large, evangelical Presbyterian church. The search committee, pastor, and leadership knew about and embraced the ruinous work of Bob Webber in my life and, in fact, wanted it for their congregation. This continued for about four years until the arrival of new leadership that wanted to go in other directions. Sound familiar, anyone?

And so I resigned—without any place to go. Ruinous. We spent the next few months looking at nearly a dozen potential jobs across the country. None were right. But God had something else in mind.

While I was scurrying around the country looking for places to land, a small team of dedicated leaders, I later learned, had been working on what eventually became “Epiclesis: An Ancient-Future Faith Community” here in Sacramento. This leadership team loved Bob Webber as much as I and, after a warm endorsement from the denomination to which I am accountable, they asked me to consider a calling as their pastor. That they called me to this work is the most humbling event of my ministry; that they want to intentionally form this community according to “Webberian” principles is the privilege of a lifetime. From “Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail” to “Who Gets to Narrate the World” (and most everything else in between), we are conspicuously and unapologetically ancient-future. And we are spending time intentionally thinking about—and living out—what it means to be ancient-future.

Now at the close of our first year, we are going about the singular purpose of the church—worship—and her many tasks with much energy and zeal, including a discipleship process with “Journey to Jesus” at its core. We worship weekly in rented space, a beautiful chapel, and are blest with a team of gifted musicians and volunteers. You’d easily recognize the feel of our worship: We surround the Table of the Lord, the pattern is four fold, and the style is convergent. (You can find copies of our weekly liturgies on our website, and I’d love for you to get to know the amazing work of our liturgist, composer, and pianist Ellen Koehler.) Our worshiping community presently numbers about 50. Everyone is in a small group that meets weekly, currently walking together through the “Journey to Jesus”. (It has been breathtaking to see lives being changed through this material and process.) We also meet for weekly prayer. In just one year, we have sponsored and participated in three major mission endeavors—one international—and done some amazing hands-on work of ministry right here in our own community.

Of course, it hasn’t been without challenges and a lot of hard work. (I know more about constitutions and bylaws and 501(c)(3) and federal paperwork than I’d rather.) But I must say that it has been amazing for all of us to be on the same page—“ruined”—with the freedom and appropriate accountability to put into practice what I learned and experienced at IWS.

The mission of IWS is alive and well and vital, and her present ministry to train worship leaders is changing lives and churches across the world. To be sure, many of our graduates are able to freely and effectively implement what they’ve learned. Others are meeting with opposition, but still feel led to walk out that intentional work of worship renewal in their current settings. Many of us have also walked difficult paths that led to new and different ministries.

We are considering an additional endeavor, believing that perhaps God is leading us to establish a network of ancient-future communities of faith. Not a denomination, this non-sectarian network of like-minded churches would exist for the purpose of mutual encouragement and resourcing. First, I can imagine that it might include churches, already established, of a wide variety of denominations that want to learn more, would like access to ancient-future resources and seminars, would affirm and support the mission of IWS, and want to promote worship renewal. Second, I can easily imagine that this network would be a great resource to new church starts that need the encouragement of like-minded communities. In our few months of existence, many individuals have asked Epiclesis for a variety of resources, which we are always happy to share.

I’d love to hear from you and learn your story. And I would love for you to visit the Epiclesis website ( Even better, let’s begin talking and praying about how the Spirit may be moving when it comes to resourcing churches and even planting ancient-future churches. What a great blessing it would be to love, support and learn from one another.

The Lord be with you!

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Simon Chan Endorses IWS

Following Simon Chan's visit to IWS to teach the June Worship Seminar, he spoke very positively about the worship on campus. In one correspondence he wrote, "I follow keenly what's happening at IWS, as the worship of the evangelical church is a matter of concern to me. I am often hard put to give an example of good convergence worship for my classes on the liturgy. I've found one at IWS."

Here is Simon Chan's official endorsement of IWS:

IWS is a pioneer in convergence worship seeking to realize liturgically the Ancient-Future Church. I must say that, having attended some of their services recently, it has succeeded remarkably. The liturgy is enacted with theological integrity, and with evangelical and spiritual vibrancy. If anyone is looking for a place where convergence liturgy is done well, I urge them to visit IWS. Truly, Robert Webber’s vision lives on!


Make plans now to attend the next Alumni Seminar:

January 10-11, 2011 with Dr. Don Davis

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January 2011 Seminar with Don Davis

Our guest lecturer for the January 10-11 event, Don L. Davis, is reincarnating the vision of Bob Webber and nurturing ancient future sensibilities with passion and creativity in the urban context. His efforts are a shining example of Bob's challenge to his students to work for worship renewal in their particular setting. 

Author of Sacred Roots: A Primer on Retrieving the Great Tradition, Dr. Davis is the Vice President of Leadership Development of World Impact, Inc., and the founder and Director of The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) in Wichita, Kansas, which is the research center for World Impact, an interdenominational mission organization dedicated to evangelism, discipleship, and planting churches among the unreached neighborhoods in America's inner cities. Part of TUMI's mission is "to retrieve the Great Tradition." Here is an excerpt from their website:

TUMI is committed to retrieving the Great Tradition for the revitalization and enrichment of the urban church. The Great Tradition represents that evangelical, apostolic, and catholic core of Christian faith and practice which came largely to fruition from 100-500 C.E. Its rich legacy and treasures represent the Church’s confession of what the Church has always believed, the worship that the ancient, undivided Church celebrated and embodied, and the mission that it embraced and undertook. The Great Tradition embodies the Apostolic Tradition, i.e., the authoritative source of all Christian faith, the Scriptures, and represents the substance of our confession and faith as has been embraced and affirmed as authoritative by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant traditions. [Read more].

More interesting links:

Registration is now open both online and by mail. Register before December 1 for the discounted rate of $120. Registration after December 1 is $140.

Seminar links:

Schedule and Seminar Description

Register online / Register by mail

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Constance Cherry Teaches in Europe

This past May, Constance had two significant teaching opportunities in Paris and Brussels. Click on the pictures to see the full versions.

The first was taken at the Mennonite Conference Center in Paris, France with DWS student Janie Blough (MWS 2006), third from the left. Connie explains, "Janie Blough is part of a committee for organizing a hymnal for French-speaking Mennonites, primarily for churches in France and Switzerland. She and her husband Neal are Ohio natives who have been career missionaries in France for 35 years. I led a day-long seminar for this group of people related to criteria for evaluating songs for the hymnal."

The second photo was taken with students in Leuven, Belgium (near Brussels). Connie shares, "I taught a week-long intensive   Master's level course, "Advanced Liturgy" at The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, a large, interdenominational evangelical seminary. The residential program draws students from all over the world. This class included students from Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, China, and Belgium. The academic programs at ETF are conducted entirely in English--no translator needed!"

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Student and Alumni News

Chris Diffenderfer, D.W.S., Mu 2008. I asked Chris for an update on the changes in his life and ministry. He shares: "I resigned my position with Biblica (Project Relations/Ministry Resource Manager) in September as I took on a full load as an Online Adjunct Professor for Grand Canyon University (teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes in Christian Studies). I also continue to pastor a house church, Falcon Ekklesia, and I have begun a book project on mystagogical formation. The work at Biblica was helpful as it supported my pastoral ministry, but teaching is more compatible with that ministry and my writing, and working in an online environment affords me the time I need to engage in each as necessary."

Julie Janisch, D.W.S., candidate 2011. Look for Julie's article on the Stations of the Cross in the December issue of Reformed Worship. If you are not familiar with this excellent publication, follow this link to receive a free trial issue.

Kenton Lee, D.W.S., Pi 2010, was inducted into the Assemblies of God Music Hall of Honor in August 2009. While this is old news, such a distinction is worthy of mention even a year late. The Hall of Honor was established to recognize individuals who have made outstanding musical contributions to the Assemblies of God. Kenton is the Minister of Worship and Creative Arts at Life Center in Tacoma, Washington, where he has served on staff the last 29 years.

Tony McNeill, D.W.S., Xi 2009, moved to Boone, North Carolina, in August to begin a two-year appointment as Guest Lecturer in Choral Music at his alma mater, the Hayes School of Music, Appalachian State University. His responsibilities include conducting the Men's Glee Club, Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Gospel Choir.

Bill Price, D.W.S., Gamma 2004, shares this update on his battle with cancer: “Thank you so much for your prayers. My surgery to remove rectal and kidney cancer tumors was successful. After a seven-hour surgery, the surgeons felt they had identified and removed all the cancer. Just to be absolutely sure, I’m going to have a second round of chemotherapy which begins October 20. I’ll have chemo through Christmas, then another less invasive surgery in January to “reconnect all the plumbing,” then another round of chemo through Easter. God has blessed me through this difficult journey as I have prayed for spiritual renewal and physical healing.”

Visit Bill's cancer journey blog here. Bill is the Executive Pastor at Autumn Ridge Church, Rochester, Minnesota.

Herbert Tsang, D.W.S. candidate, Sigma, recently returned to Hong Kong to present a worship seminar and a conducting workshop at two churches: Evangelical Free Church of China Taikoo Shing Church and Kowloon Tong Church of Chinese Christian & Missionary Alliance Sheung Shui Church. While in Hong Kong, he purposely connected with IWS grads and students: Dr. Teresa Ho, Doris Wai, Jade Wong, Dr. Philip Chan Dr. Perry Chow and Simon Ng. Click on the thumbnails below to see the larger pictures. Visit Herbert's web site here. You might also be interested in seeing the Website for Church Music Ministry of Canada.

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Announcing our New Academic Dean

by Dr. Jim Hart

Dr. Eric Bolger announced in June that he would be stepping down from his position as Academic Dean effective November 1 due to increased responsibilities at College of the Ozarks where he is Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Chairman of the Humanities Division. He has served as Dean since January 1, 2007, assuming the role previously filled by our founder, Bob Webber. During Eric's tenure as dean, IWS achieved initial accreditation, launched a new assessment process, expanded the library resources, began a process of regular curricular review, and further developed the strategic planning process. Eric will continue at IWS as the professor of MWS 501. 

Dr. Andrew Hill, professor in DWS 701, will assume the role of Academic Dean. Andy is Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, and formerly served as chair of the Bible Department there. His graduate training includes an M.Div. with Christian Education emphasis from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. He has authored numerous books, including Enter His Courts with Praise!: Old Testament Worship for the New Testament Church.

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© 2010 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