Blogger Brian Hehn is the Director of The Center for Congregational Song.
The Original Post
On September 25th, I posted this onto my personal FB wall:
My heart aches for my black sisters and brothers for yet another result that denies their basic humanness based on the color of their skin. This is the latest example of both an inherited and perpetuated trauma to our fellow humans and God’s creation. Racism kills in so many ways… #BreonnaTaylor is one of many. May her memory be blessed. While feeling helpless to enact real change in moments like this, the least I can do is re-dedicate myself to working toward being anti-racist and helping others along a similar journey. Now’s not a great time to ask for resources or ideas from your friends of color as they grieve and feel deeply this latest injustice. If you are beginning to work toward anti-racism or want to know what that is, feel free to PM me. I’m certainly not an expert, but I am learning and can point you toward good resources and people to follow.
Soon after, I got a message from a colleague that said this:
Hi Brian, in response to your Facebook post this week, who do you recommend I follow or read to develop an understanding of non-white hymnody, history of worship, and even church history more generally. Any suggestions or starting points would be amazing. Thanks.
Below is my reply, which I hope will be a helpful guide to anyone who is at the beginning of their journey.
Thanks for reaching out.
Below are some resources that I hope will be a good start. If you’re looking for something in particular, let me know and I can be more specific. I don’t know what kind of tradition/piety you are coming from, which means some of these things might not hit the mark for you. It’s a bit all over the place as far as traditions/theologies represented. The important thing is that you’re engaging in this and that we’re here as conversation partners, not as experts! We’re all on a journey and have a lot to learn from each other. We at The Center for Congregational Song are grateful to have met lots of wonderful people along the way who we have learned from and continue to build relationships with.
Free Resources to Read/Watch/Use
Use these resources an entrées into expanding your vision for what God gets to delight in each and every day from Christians around the world. Pick one that sounds interesting, then explore the resources and ideas that they suggest to continue your journey.
- African American Church Music – Beyond The Myths
- Cuban Hymnody Plenary by Amós López
- Asian Hymnody Plenary Video from The Hymn Society
- Introduction to Bi-Lingual Worship Leading – Video
- Podcast with Guest Artist Ana Hernandez
- Podcast about new bi-lingual Spanish/English hymnal
- Native American Pastor and Scholar Mark Charles on the Doctrine of Discovery and Christian History
Books/Resources to Consider Buying
Investing in resources by people of color and citing their work is an important and practical way to live into being anti-racist.
- Readings In African American Church Music
- Next Worship: Glorifying God In A Diverse World
- Gather Into One: Praying and Singing Globally
- Liturgies from Below – A collection of prayers, songs, rituals, rites of healing, Eucharistic and baptismal prayers, meditations and art from four continents: Asia-Pacific Islands, Africa, Americas, and Europe curated by a Brazilian-American professor
- Sound the Bamboo (hymnal of Asian song from over 20 countries)
Music/Worship Organizations Doing This Kind of Work
For more resources and ideas from folks who are deep into this work, here are some places to continue learning.
- Global Ethnodoxologists Network (GEN)
- Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
- Common Hymnal
- The Porter’s Gate Worship Project
People/Groups to Follow on Social Media or via their scholarship
Most of these folks don’t pull punches, so be ready! Some of them often speak directly to worship or music-specific topics. Others are not worship-specific teachers, but we are firm believers that good worship leaders must also have training outside of music and worship in order to be faithful leaders.
- Multicultural Worship Leaders Network & Nikki Lerner
- Mark Charles (Native American Teacher/Preacher)
- Alisha Lola Jones (Black Church Music Scholar)
- Wil Gafney (OT Biblical Scholar)
- Margaret Aymer (NT Biblical Scholar)
- @TruthsTable Podcast
I’m sure I’ve left out a lot of helpful things/people/organizations, but this is what comes to the top of my mind. I hope this helps!
If you know of other worship leaders, scholars, hymnologists, and musician/groups who are actively engaged in teaching worship and anti-racism, please post them in the comments below. Thanks!