by J. Fred Kauffman, MCC East Coast, Philadelphia Program Coordinator
On Saturday, May 4, 2013, at Philadelphia Mennonite High School, twenty musicians exercised their creative talents at the Sing a New Song workshop. Kingdom Builders Anabaptist Network of Greater Philadelphia (KB) organized the event, and James Krabill of the Mennonite Mission Network provided leadership.
Krabill engaged participants with an interactive style of teaching as he reviewed the Biblical roots of worship and the shift from “place-centered worship” (Jerusalem) in the Old Testament to “person-centered worship” (Jesus) in the New Testament. He then led the group in reflections on Biblical texts related to Pentecost.
The group then divided into five small groups that spent two hours composing new songs based on the Pentecost texts. It was a wonderful challenge, full of interesting conversations, creative brainstorming, tentative suggestions, and lots of laughter.
Near the end of the workshop, the groups performed their new songs for each other and talked about how they approached the challenge. Some worked out lyrics first, while others started humming tunes and supplied the words later.
As people gathered for a final prayer there was a sense that new ground had been ploughed and new seeds planted—both in the music written and the relationships formed.
Musicians from a variety of ethnicities participated: Vietnamese, Indonesian, African American, Hispanic, European American, Haitian, Taiwanese and Cambodian. Ten churches were represented, five from Franconia Conference, two from Lancaster Conference, and one each from Eastern District, Alliance of Mennonite Evangelical Congregations, and Harvest Fellowship of Churches.
The musicians will perform/lead these new songs at KB’s joint Pentecost worship service on Saturday, May 18th at Philadelphia Praise Center, 1701 McKean St in South Philly. Want to join the celebration? There’s a 5:30 PM potluck, and worship begins at 6:30.