Tag Archives: Music

Salford’s Peace Camp joins Tom Chapin on Souderton stage

Salford's Peace Camp joins Tom Chapin on the stage during one of Souderton's Sundae  Concerts in the park.
Salford’s Peace Camp joins Tom Chapin on the stage during one of Souderton’s Sundae Concerts in the park. Photo courtesy of Sundae Concerts.

by Bob Keeler, Montgomery News (reposted by permission)

When Tom Chapin took to the stage for his June 29 Concert Sundaes performance in Souderton (Pa.) Community Park, it was expected he’d have some friends along, so it was no surprise that fellow musicians Jon Cobert and Michael Mark were there.

They weren’t the only ones there to accompany the three-time Grammy winner, though.

Members of the Salford Mennonite Church Peace Camp also got to sing from the Maurice W. Foulke Bandshell.

This was the ninth year for the Peace Camp, which ran June 23 through 27, according to Meredith Ehst, who with Ashley Miller and Carissa Gredler are interim directors of children’s ministries at the church on Groff’s Mill Road in Harleysville.

The Peace Camp used a grant from the Salford Mennonite Foundation Fund to partner with Concert Sundaes to sponsor Chapin’s appearance, Ehst said.

“It was great to partner with them and the community to bring him to the area and have such a great community event,” Ehst said.

“It really was a great night for the kids and they’ll really remember peace camp,” she said. “Tom and the band were really great to work with and it worked out really well.”

Chapin was chosen because some of his songs are part of the music at the camp, she said.

“The three songs the kids sang [with Chapin], we use each year and have incorporated into the program,” Ehst said.

The children, who met Chapin the night of the concert, rehearsed with his CDs, she said.

The children also performed sign language to the songs.

They performed with Chapin just before intermission.

After-intermission songs performed by Chapin, Cobert and Mark included the Steve Goodman-written “City of New Orleans,” recorded by Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson, Harry Chapin’s “Mail Order Annie” and “Cat’s in the Cradle,” and the Chapin family anthem “Circle” with a verse tailored specifically to Concert Sundaes. Tom Chapin is the brother of Harry Chapin, who was killed in a traffic accident in 1981. In addition to his songwriting and performing, Harry Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian efforts to end hunger.

“It was a wonderful concert. I think everybody had a great time,” Sam Martin, Concert Sundaes Committee chairwoman, said.

The church contacted Concert Sundaes to see if it would be possible to work together to schedule and sponsor the Chapin concert, she said.

Although there have been other types of support for Concert Sundaes, this was the first partnership of this kind that she remembers, Martin said.

“We don’t really have a policy because it doesn’t happen all that often, but we’re always open to any ideas,” she said. “Each thing, we take to the committee. It’s a committee decision.”

Peace Camp, for children who have completed kindergarten through fifth grade, included a meal for the children in its 5 to 8 p.m. sessions each night, Ehst said.

It is somewhat similar to Vacation Bible School, but Salford has created its own curriculum, she said.

The youngest children learn about “Peace and Me,” the oldest learn “Peaceful Conflict Resolution” and the middle classes are taught “Peace with the Earth,” she said.

Many of those who attend are from the community and are not members of the church, she said.

Salford member Mary Jane Hershey, who got the idea for it from Quaker programs at Gwynedd Friends Meeting, introduced the idea for the peace camp to Salford, Ehst said.

“It really just goes along with our core values as Mennonites,” Ehst said.

Concert Sundaes are held 7 p.m. Sundays in the park at Reliance Road and Wile Avenue. The fifth show of the 10-concert season, Chapin’s appearance marked the halfway point. In contrast to some other years, none of the five had to be moved inside because of rain.

“We hate to go inside and this weather has just been a gift to us,” Martin said.

Attendees at the concerts are invited to take photos and submit those pictures to be posted on Concert Sundaes Facebook page.

“Luke Bennett, a member of our committee, has kind of amped up the Facebook page,” Martin said. “I think the photos entice people to come to the park, too.”

Philadelphia partnership sings a new song

Kingdom Builders Music
Back row, l – r: Curtis Wright (Philadelphia Mennonite High School), Karlton Glick (Nueva Vida Norristown New Life), Fred Kauffman (Mennonite Central Committee East Coast, Philadelphia Program), Lam Nguyen (Vietnamese Mennonite Church), Bernard Sejour (Solidarity & Harmony Evangelical Church), Ray Bergey (Rock Hill Mennonite Church), Wendell Holmes (Second Mennonite Church), Sharon Williams (NVNNL).
Middle Row: Iwan Susanto (Nations Worship Center), Beny Krisbianto (NWC), Teng Hou (Philadelphia Cambodian Mennonite Church), Anita Nguyen (VMC), Crystal Nguyen (VMC), Minh Kauffman (VMC), Barbara Wallace (Second Menno), Anne Hess (Oxford Circle Mennonite Church).  Front row: Tam Tran (VMC), Tony Kauffman (West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship), Aldo Siahaan (Philadelphia Praise Center), Pete Prunes (OCMC), and James Krabill (Mennonite Mission Network). Photo by Nereida Babilonia.

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.

God@Work: A Persistent Morning Cue

alarm clockby Brenda Shelly, Blooming Glen

I am an unapologetic snooze-button smacker.  It is my habit to set my alarm for 5:30 each morning just for the pleasure of slapping (and ignoring) it several times before I am forced to actually rise from my soft, warm bed. The snooze button is insistent, chirping at regular intervals to rouse me from sleep and I’ve noticed lately that one of the persistently obnoxious intervals has been occurring at exactly 6:06 a.m.

This may seem inconsequential (even daft) to a Lutheran, a Baptist, a Pentecostal, or a Presbyterian.  But last month in my foggy morning Mennonite mind, the association clicked. The beeping and the number have since been a recurrent morning cue, courtesy of the unrelenting connections in my brain.   I’d like to think this is God’s sense of humor tickling the synapses in my brain, though some may say He’s got no time for such nonsense.  Call me illogical, but I find Him to be very involved in the intricacies of my day; my mornings and waking are no exception.

So last month, the annoying beeping and the time on my clock spoke loudly and clearly, nudging me out of my morning mist and urging me to turn to page number 606 in the hymnal.

Since then, I’ve begun my days at 6:06 a.m. with a robust internal morning song.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  The song is in my heart and in my mind as I peel back the covers and try to find my footing on the carpet.  Praise Him all creatures here below.  At the sound of my steps stumbling toward the shower, Jasmine the cat begins to howl a morning greeting from downstairs. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. So early in the morning, my mind is drawn to the countless blessings I receive each day.  Who am I, mere mortal, given the opportunity to praise my Heavenly Father in the company of heavenly beings?  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. There is none like Him.  And it resonates in the very core of my being before the warm spray of water even hits me in the face.

God works in large sweeping movements leaving his indelible mark on hearts and lives.  But his glory is also found blossoming from the tiny cracks of damaged sidewalks and in the ordinary details we too often fail to appreciate.  His interest and involvement in our lives exceed our imaginations, and I venture to suggest He would love for us to discover blessings far surpassing those for which we stoop to ask. Hallelujah.  Amen.


Listen to Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow at last year’s Mennonite Church USA convention.

God@Work: Singing a New Song

by Sheila R. Duerksen, Blooming Glen

How does one who was sheltered in the arms of a loving family, taught of God as she is taught to walk, surrounded by faith as by an embryonic fluid — how does one such as I not know that God loves her?

In a crisis of overwhelming fears, I came to sudden clarity that I did not really trust Him, and this was rooted in not truly believing that He loves me.  Yes, I believed He loved the world, in a general, beneficent Creator sort of way.  But what interest did He have in me?  I knew I had been sheltered and protected, and for that I was grateful.  But I did not believe that He treasured me, and I did not believe that I should even expect that kind of attention.  I should be thankful for what I have and be content.  But there was a yearning in me I could not name.

I did not realize that thankfulness would unlock the greatest surprise of my life:  a God, on the edge of His seat, a catch in His throat, His muscles taut as He restrained Himself to honor my free will, and waited…waited…waited for me, His beloved.  A God who longed for me and fought for me and craved an intimate relationship with me.  I never imagined a God like that, His Words a-quiver with life, a startlingly real God of visions and dreams and singing a new song.

During this season of growing thankfulness came the songs.  Suddenly, like rain showers, words and music began to fall into my mind.  I never knew when the next song would come.  I did not deliberately try to write them; they would arrive out of the clear blue, while I was jogging or in the shower or at the kitchen sink.  They arrived while I was sleep deprived and desperately juggling the needs of two young children while drowning in the mire of household tasks.  I simply opened up and received.

This was shocking and delightful to me.  I had never written a song in my life, and it had never occurred to me to try.  Still, I had always loved the feel and tang of words, and found joy in music, paying very close attention to the songs which moved me.  The mystery of music called to me.

Could it be that God…knew me? Cared about me?  He knew that, when I was lost in the worship of thankfulness that January morning, my spirit suddenly stretched out long toward Him… I wanted to sing.  I wanted my own words to sing.  But I could not ask for such a thing.  You aren’t deserving of that.  And if you want it too badly, you will not get it.  You will be disappointed.  But somehow grace was stronger than fear, and He heard my faintest soul whisper, the deepest desire of my heart, what I did not even know was hidden in me.  He gave me what I was afraid to ask for.

This was a God who knew that the hurts incurred on my journey through the world had shaken me and battered me.  I had put away my poetic nature, my creativity, and my sensitivity because they did nothing to protect me from the blows.  I became jaded and suspicious, because innocence made me a target.  I closed the door on dreams because they weren’t practical or responsible.  But He knew who He had created me to be.  And He was calling out to that girl.  For the first time in my life, I heard Him.

He has answered my deepest questions and my deepest longings by His love for me.  I see His hands all over the events of my life, weaving the joy and pain together into something new, always something new.  Fear and disappointment cannot withstand the astonishing tenderness and mercy of my Father’s relentless pursuit of me; the creator and caretaker of all that exists is also the Lover of my soul.

Conferences initiate intercultural worship and songwriting cohort

By Ben Sutter, benjamins5@goshen.edu, Franconia Conference Communications

As a conference embracing formational, intercultural, and missional values, Franconia Conference will join with the Eastern District Conference to offer a series of experiences exploring intercultural worship. In preparation for this year’s joint Conference Assembly, the conferences are initiating a worship and songwriting cohort open to anyone interested in playing and creating music together. Leaders hope this time of joint worship will encourage musicians in both conferences to offer their skills and creativity to the Conference Assembly in a new way.

The “jam sessions” will take place on four separate Fridays throughout the summer in the second floor of the Mennonite Conference Center in Harleysville, PA. The sessions will be held July 15, August 5, August 26, and September 16 from 7pm until 9pm.

Coordinator Emily Ralph, Associate Director of Communication for Franconia Conference, is excited about the possibilities that might emerge from this event.

“The purpose of these ‘jam sessions’ is to create a diverse community of musicians that can work out together what it means to be an intercultural worshiping community,” says Ralph. “I look forward to this being an experience that will unite musicians and songwriters across geographic, cultural, and ethnic boundaries.”

Musicians and songwriters of all instruments and ability levels are encouraged to attend. Prayer intercessors are also invited to pray during meetings, either onsite or from their homes. The cohort will join in study, worship, jamming, and songwriting to inspire times of corporate worship that are formational, intercultural and missional.

Ralph asks participants to come with an open heart and a willingness to make friends and allow the Holy Spirit to move through their musical gifts.

“I hope that we will form friendships that will allow us to minister together in the future, build relationships that will lead the way in church unity, and create a new expression ofworship that will reflect who we are as a diverse community of worshipers.”

Ralph cautions participants to release their own definitions of success for this event.

“This is an experiment,” she says. “We don’t know how it will turn out or if it will even be a ‘success’ by human standards. My definition of success is that we’re going to try and see what happens. We’re going to be finding our way, so it could get really messy.”

Defining the process as messy doesn’t scare Ralph. She is excited about the opportunities that this cohort could generate.

“Messy isn’t bad,” says Ralph. “Sometimes it takes messiness to create something new!”

Those interested should RSVP to Ralph at eralph@franconiaconference.org.