Worship conference celebrates Lutheran worship

The WELS Commission on Worship hosted the 2017 National Conference on Worship Music and the Arts June 13–16 at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis. More than 1,000 people attended the conference, which included a focus on Martin Luther’s contributions to worship as part of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Rachel Crites, the sole organist/pianist at Shepherd of the Hills, Anchorage, Alaska, is grateful that her congregation sponsored her conference registration and travel. She notes, “Being around other musicians is really a boost for me. I’ve attended the last four conferences. The last two have had a lot of sessions about the new hymnal, which have helped me understand how it will—or won’t, in some cases—work for our small congregation so far away from the epicenter of WELS.”

Rev. Bryan Gerlach, director of WELS Commission on Worship, says that the conference is planned with attendees like Crites in mind. “Attendees will gain some practical ideas and be challenged by fresh insights. But perhaps for most of us the conference is a triennial battery charge—an inspirational encouragement to return to parishes of any size and do our best.”

This particular conference included

  • morning and evening worship services;
  • a plenary address by Rev. Michael Schultz, the director of the WELS Hymnal Project, who offered a Reformation perspective on worship;
  • more than 50 breakout sessions;
  • performances by WELS musicians in a wide variety of styles;
  • a children’s choir and high school honor choir;
  • a collaborative art project that was displayed at the closing service; and
  • a juried art exhibit.

For Dawn Torth, though, the highlight is always the same. “I love the worship services and to see the variety of things that can be done to praise God,” says Torth, a choir director at St. John, Mukwonago, Wis., who attended her third worship conference this year. “At this conference, I particularly liked the chanting in worship, including the lessons. It really gave me new perspective on familiar verses.”

Funding from Thrivent Financial made it possible for leadership teams from around the country to attend the conference.

To view the conference’s opening festival concert or closing worship service, visit livestream.com/welslive.

View photos from the conference.