Engaging the Experiment

Good day friends,

Student Pastor Molly here. I want to offer some words of reflection and encouragement from my experience and perspective in being a part of this past month with the worship collaboration.  Some have called the collaboration with Acts on Stage, Townsend School of Music and Performing Arts and University Gathering an “experiment.” The excitement and hesitation with experiments are that we do not know what the outcome will be. We can give a prediction or hypothesis and hope for the best also knowing that experiments sometimes can go very wrong. I have had the privilege of being a part of this experiment in many different capacities. The first week, I watched online from Ohio. The second week I was able to sing with the worship team. It brought comfort to me being able to sing songs and be a part of a worship style that was familiar to me as I was immersing myself in a new, unfamiliar city.

One thing I really appreciated about this experiment was the community conversation that was held at the end of the collaboration. I have been in churches and part of worship teams in the past where decisions have been made without the consideration of the congregation. I loved hearing not only the things that resonated with folks but also the moments of disconnect or tension. Rev. Sam Townsend and Michelle Lang-Raymond both alluded to the fact that we do not need to shy away from moments of tension. They encouraged us to lean into them and take a deeper look at ourselves. We can also take pause to think about the broader community and what the needs and desires of our growing community may be.

I applaud you, University Gathering, for showing up on Sunday mornings during the past month, whether it was in person or online, to experience this experiment. While there may have been moments that felt uncomfortable, you embraced them and opened your hearts and minds to something that may have felt very different from what you are used to. Pastor Paul, I, and other leaders have reflected on this experience with the feedback we have received throughout the month. Paul was most excited to hear feedback from new folks and longtime members and one of his takeaways was that we have desire and the need to infuse new styles of worship while also holding on to favorite hymns that were the foundation of the Wesleyan tradition. Pastor Paul stated, “My takeaways from the conversation are that our church is ready to move towards more vibrant worship with innovative music. We are ready for a worship leader to engage us on Sunday mornings – someone who can incorporate our favorite hymns, inclusive language, and social justice themes.”

I encourage you to reflect on what worship means to you and how we as a church can move into more lively, vibrant, innovative worship.

In Christ,

Molly Collier