We collaborate with university and college music departments to provide their students with workshops on church music. The Center for Congregational Song provides all of the programming, two clinicians, and all materials so that the workshops are free for the students and provided at no cost to the University/College. All students that attend receive a free 1-year membership to The Hymn Society and are provided with a packet of choral anthems that lend themselves to including the congregation’s voice.
The Ambassadors Program is designed to achieve 2 primary goals:
The Ambassadors Program provides:
Cristen Mitchell is a native of Draper, Virginia and currently lives in Christiansburg with her husband, Brandon and daughter, Anna She is the full-time Director of Music Ministries at Blacksburg United Methodist Church in Blacksburg, VA At “BUM-C” she oversees the music ministry and works with a variety of choral and instrumental ensembles in leading worship She is an assistant director for the Blacksburg Children’s Chorale, and president of the Professional Choir The Voices of Appalachia Cristen is a Doctor of Pastoral Music Candidate at Southern Methodist University, holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from James Madison University, a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Radford University, and a Church Music Certificate from Virginia Wesleyan College Cristen frequently travels with her choirs to perform at venues such as Carnegie Hall, and she has been a soloist on stage at the Lincoln Center She was the 2018 recipient of the John & Mary Virginia Foncannon Choral Conducting/Sacred Music Scholarship, and the 2019 recipient of the John & Mary Foncannon Choral Conducting/Coaching Scholarship
Matthew Boutda is a conductor, organist, and singer from Toronto, Canada He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Sacred Music degree from the University of Toronto Currently, he is pursuing his Master of Music in Literature and Performance, studying
choral conducting with Mark Ramsay at the University of Western in London, Ontario
With a passion and desire for choral music, Matthew is delighted to be a part of the rich music program as Director of Music at Leaside United Church, in Toronto Here, he plays the organ, conducts, and oversees the Leaside Chancel Choir, Junior Choir, and C-Flats Youth Jazz Band
As a conductor, Matthew has been the Assistant Conductor of Pax Christi Chorale, one of Canada’s finest oratorio choirs in Toronto for the past three years
Recently, Matthew helped to form the Uniting Voices Collective This is a group of musicians that are dedicated to sustaining community through shared song during this time of physical distancing Uniting Voices Collective has provided and continues to provide interactive virtual sessions that inform and uplift choristers, directors and musicians
Anneli Loepp Thiessen is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Music Research program at the University of Ottawa, where her studies with Dr Jada Watson promote an interdisciplinary musicological approach to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the contemporary worship music industry Anneli is the co-director of the Anabaptist Worship Network, and was a committee member for the new Mennonite hymnal, Voices Together She holds her ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music, a graduate diploma in Arts Management from Queen’s University, and was named a Yamaha Fellow of the Eastman Leadership Academy in 2020 She enjoys writing music for worship, guiding youth in uncovering their song leading abilities, and helping communities consider how their congregational song can be more inclusive
Brett Pardue proudly serves as Minister of Music and Outreach at Rolesville Baptist Church, where he shepherds a variety of musical ensembles, coordinates the church’s community outreach, and assists in pastoral duties
Prior to joining the staff at RBC, Brett shared his passion for worship as a church musician for congregations in North Carolina, Georgia, and New Jersey During his time in the Northeast, Brett held the title of Sametz Artist-in-Residence at Lehigh University, acting as lecturer for introductory voice and voice pedagogy classes, instructor of private voice study, and tenor soloist for the Department of Music Brett has held additional positions at Rowan University and the University of Georgia
Brett has completed graduate studies at the esteemed Westminster Choir College and the Princeton Theological Seminary, and he holds degrees from Mars Hill College and the University of Georgia He is currently pursuing his doctoral degree through the Robert E Webber Institute for Worship Studies
As a performer, Brett has been blessed with solo performances at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Cincinnati Opera, as well as internationally in Italy, Canada, Austria, and as an ambassador in Japan for Project Hand-in-Hand: an international music exchange designed to support disaster relief efforts He holds awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Bel Canto Institute of Florence, Italy
Megan Mash began serving as the Music Minister at Sebastian United Methodist Church in August 2010 She attended Simpson College in Indianola, IA and graduated summa cum laude earning a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Religion In May 2010 Megan graduated magna cum laude with a Master’s of Sacred Music with a concentration in organ from Perkins School of Theology at SMU Here she studied with Larry Palmer, David R Davidson, Julie Scott and Michael Hawn and Christopher Anderson She served as Dean of the Treasure Coast Chapter of AGO for the 2017-2018 season
Slats Toole is a musician, writer, educator, preacher and theater director/sound designer based in Minneapolis, MN They are an active member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and have had formative experience in Baptist (CBF and Alliance), United Methodist, Episcopal, and Reformed churches They hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a Master of Divinity and Certificate in Theology, Women and Gender from Princeton Theological Seminary They serve on the Friends of NEXT Church team, and are the resident sound designer for the In[heir]itance Project
Slats’ Lenten poetry series has been compiled in the collection Queering Lent, and their work has also been published in “History of Hymns”, Call to Worship, Sacramental Life, and The Presbyterian Outlook They have been a featured guest artist with A Sanctified Art Slats has led workshops on expansive language and queer theology (with a particular emphasis on gender identity) throughout the United States and Canada Slats’ work centers around creating space in the church where all are welcomed, embraced, and loved
Joslyn Henderson is a full-time graduate student at Truett Seminary and Baylor School of Music, having first earned her Bachelors of Vocal Performance from Spelman College in Atlanta She is a prolific gospel singer and worship leader In addition, Joslyn is also an active member of the Waco Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated
If you would like The Center for Congregational Song to come to your University or College, please contact us so we can begin the scheduling process. We currently have openings for the Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Fall 2020 Semesters.
We are grateful to our partner organization for this program, Choristers Guild.