Author Brian Hehn is the Director of The Center for Congregational Song
Negativity. Pessimism. Insults. Arrogance. Blame. Simplifications…These are many of the characteristics that are easy to find when browsing the internet, scrolling through social media, listening to the news, and even walking the hallways of our churches. But when I read the Gospels, when I look to inspirational leaders who make a difference in this world, and when I interact with many of my colleagues and friends, I find:
Joy. Optimism. Praises. Humility. Grace. Contextualization.
The Center for Congregational Song (CCS) is a new endeavor that I pray will make a difference in our churches and our communities. But that difference cannot and will not be made through negativity. Why? Because there is too much to celebrate and too much good work to be done. There is so much inspiration out there; so many people who are serving faithfully and striving diligently to enliven the voice of God’s people. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prophetically said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” Our song must be a light. When people struggle with the darkness of despair or depression, our song must be like David’s healing music for King Saul. When our communities are invaded by the darkness of oppression or fear, we must join Jesus as he sings with his disciples in the upper room.
I hope that you’ll join us in this work. Join us by continuing to lead God’s people in song. Join us by sharing the good resources you have found with us so that we can connect others. Join us by telling your colleagues and friends about us. Whether you become a consumer, contributor, or cheerleader, we want you to become a part of The Center’s work.
As you explore all our initiatives and resources, it’s important to know that our work is guided by a series of “guiding stances.” These stances have been carefully crafted by The Center Director’s Advisory Group as well as The Hymn Society’s Executive Leadership. To read about these guiding stances, you can click here.
This blog begins with a core team of writers in place and ready to write. Each contributor comes from a different background, different tradition, and has a different skill-set. So what you’ll get by following this blog is a variety of ideas from a variety of viewpoints, and we view that as a strength. So let me introduce you to our core team:
Rosa Cándida Ramírez is the Worship Pastor of La Fuente Ministries, an intercultural, intergenerational bilingual ministry in Pasadena, California. As a second generation Latina, she is passionate about the role of language and culture in worship, and the creation of bilingual worship resources. During her time as a student, she worked with Fuller Theological Seminary’s All-Seminary Chapel in helping create intercultural worship and is currently working as a consultant with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
Ginny Chilton is Music Minister at Church of the Ascension in Norfolk, Virginia, where she serves as organist, choirmaster, and elementary music teacher. She enjoys the variety that comes with working in a church: organ music, worship planning, choir directing, children’s music, handbells, etc. Before moving to Virginia, she had been in Boston where she completed two master’s degrees at Boston University: a master’s of sacred music and a master’s of divinity.
Adam Perez is a doctoral student in liturgical studies and music at Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC. A native of Miami, FL, Adam earned a B.A. in music education from Trinity Christian College (Palos Heights, IL) and a M.A. in religion and music from Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He has been involved in planning and leading worship in a wide variety of settings and styles, most recently as the Interim Minister of Music at All Saints’ United Methodist Church in Morrisville, North Carolina. Adam is passionate about vital corporate worship and is committed to helping communities and their leaders engage in worship with wisdom and hospitality.
Me! I am the director of The Center for Congregational Song and I love my job. Getting to spend intentional time seeking out and meeting people across the U.S. and Canada who are passionate about the church’s song and then connecting others to their work is a large part of what I do. I live and breathe congregational song and am beyond blessed to learn from and with musicians and pastors in a variety of contexts and denominations. I’m excited about what this blog and the entire Center for Congregational Song can and will do in the coming years to help encourage, promote, and enliven congregational song.