Worship conference registration now open

Registration is now open for the eighth triennial National Conference on Worship Music & the Arts.

This year’s conference will be held in two locations: Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis., from June 13-16 and Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., June 27–30.

Thousands of WELS members have attended worship conferences in the past to be enriched by presentations about worship, music, liturgy, and liturgical art; to experience daily worship with WELS members from around the country; to participate in choirs and musical ensembles; and to be inspired with ideas for their local congregations.

Rev. Bryan Gerlach, chair of the conference planning committee and director of the Commission on Worship, says the planning committee works to offer presentations for everyone. “To see the value of topics for laypeople who aren’t musicians,” he says, “look for presentations on worship and outreach, church renovation, strategic planning and worship enrichment, and communicating Christ in the 21st century.”

This year, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, the conference also will include special presentations examining Lutheran history with application to the present and will feature five Reformation-themed services that showcase newly commissioned texts and music from 15 composers and poets.

A special Reformation 500 grant from Thrivent Financial is making it possible to offer the second regional conference in California. This conference will include many of the same presentations and worship services as the Kenosha conference, though it will be on a slightly smaller scale.

“This is a great opportunity for those who perhaps have found distance to be a factor in not attending past conferences,” says Rev. Mark Schewe, pastor at St. Peter, Clovis, Calif., and worship coordinator for the Arizona-California District. “I think it’s good for all of us to understand our deep Lutheran roots and also the Christian freedom that we have to worship the Lord in many forms.”

The regional conference also will allow more teens and children to be involved, with an honor choir and a children’s choir being planned for each site. “The 2011 conference featured a 40-voice children’s choir for the first time,” says Gerlach. “This was so successful that the 2017 children’s choir will be even larger, up to 80 voices for the Kenosha site. This choir will model possibilities with children, serving as an inspiration for both children and other attendees.” The honor choir will give high school students the opportunity to participate in the conference as well as sing in the closing service.

Gerlach says he’s excited for the opportunity to take the conference “on the road.” “We pray it will offer more people a chance to be personally inspired and then to take ideas back home to enrich worship in their own churches.”

You can register for either conference at wels.net/worshipconference. Singers (adults, teens, and children) and instrumentalists also can sign up to participate in choirs and worship. The registration deadline for the honor choir and the children’s choir is March 15, if possible, but later registrations are also welcome.