2019 Elevate Worship Conference Recap

On November 9-10, 2018 the American Baptist Churches of Nebraska and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary partnered together to host the Elevate Worship Conference at First Baptist Church in Norfolk, NE. Dr. Sam Hamstra, Professor and Director of the Master of Arts in Worship, gathered a team of Northern alumni and current practitioners that included, Jeff and Brittany Janiszewski (MDiv 2017), and Dan Tinquist (MA 2018) who led the conference. Together the four, along with FBC Norfolk member Jonathan Montalvo, led three meaningful and engaging worship sessions. These times of worship served the dual purpose of drawing the participants into worship while also teaching the various elements of worship preparation and leading. Creatively weaving together times of singing, prayerful reflection, video presentations, and short homilies the team gracefully guided those present in worship.

The conference was not limited to these worship experiences alone. Dr. Hamstra taught two sessions to the forty-five participants, on the five elements of worship. He taught those gathered how God summons us to worship, extends his grace, and commissions us to go into the world God created to be the hands and feet of Christ. He spoke about our call to respond to that grace filled summoning and commissioning. Dr. Hamstra and his team also led a series of break out sessions on important topics related to worship preparation like technology, song selection, the various elements of worship outside of the sermon and songs, and discipleship. The conference participants, representing nine congregations, deepened their understanding of worship preparation and participation.

The participants spoke of how meaningful the two-day conference was to them as individuals and how they hoped to share their experience with their local churches. “I learned a couple of things,” Charity Allen of Gibbon Baptist Church said, “First is to be confident in your abilities. If God is calling you do something [like lead worship] then God will help you do that. Second, is you have to be prepared by internalizing what you hope to lead in worship.” Verla Dorn of First Baptist Church Beatrice said, “The Elevate Worship Conference is an experience. You gain the most by experiencing this sort of training. If you don’t experience worship like this and training like this, you can’t share it with others.” Amanda Hayes of Beatrice, summarized her experience, “I learned the importance of understanding the context of your congregation when preparing to lead worship – it helps you lead in a way that is most effective.” Pastor Nolan Hayes summed up the weekend by stating, “There is so much to say about the Elevate Worship Conference, but to sum up the weekend in one phrase, ‘You can’t lead people where you haven’t been.’”

The 2018 Elevate Worship Conference was an exciting weekend of training and worship. Those who attended the conference shared how they hope this sort of event will be hosted again in the future. Thank you to First Baptist Church of Norfolk for hosting this event. Thank you to Northern Seminary for partnering with ABC Nebraska to lead such an impactful weekend.

Rev. Dr. Greg Mamula
Associate Executive Minister and Region Missionary
American Baptist Churches of Nebraska
2018 Northern DMin in New Testament

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