Improvisation: Departing from the Script, Holding Fast to Scripture
The 2002 St. Olaf Conference on Worship, Theology, and the Arts presented nationally recognized ministers, musicians, scholars, and theologians who discussed and demonstrated improvisation as it applies to their fields. As great jazz musicians demonstrate, improvisation requires attention to all the nuances of harmony and the ensemble. What sounds like “making it up as you go along” is actually the creative combination of inspiration and skills firmly grounded in the discipline and practice of their art.
Conference lectures, workshops, and discussions gave tools to cope creatively with change and adjust to the needs of the congregation, weather as a pastor, musician, lay leader, or educator.
During the conference, worship services modeled worship planning that integrates text, liturgy, and the arts. Focusing on Holy Week and Easter, the daily services provided an opportunity for conference participants to gather as a community for spiritual renewal.
A special feature of the 2002 was a plenary session conducted by James P. Wind, who addressed the question “When I get home, what do I do with what I have learned?” Drawing upon his extensive experience as a trainer and educator with the Alban Institute, Wind helped channel the passion for growth and change into practical implementation that is sensitive and pastoral.