2010 Conference Archive

The News and The Good News

2010_CWTA_logoWEBPeople used to ask each other, “Have you heard the news?”  Or perhaps, “Have you read the news?” Now they ask, “Did you see the news?”

Is there a difference?  Theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr and Karl Barth encouraged preachers to hold the Bible (the Good News) in one hand and the daily paper (the news) in the other.  Has the paper now become the TV remote or an iPhone application?  Preachers do not need two hands anymore; with just one hand on a computer mouse they can access both the Bible and live streamed news videos.

For the church, rapid advancements in technology provide exciting possibilities for worship and communication, yet however helpful technology proves to be with communication, it also possesses a shadow side that overwhelms.  The easy availability of news and information is a luxury of our time, but like all luxury it comes with a spiritual warning.  Information overload can paralyze the will and dull the spirit.

How shall the church engage our technology-driven, media-saturated culture?  How shall the church help her people respond and live with attentiveness to the Spirit?  Can the embodiment of the Gospel live alongside disembodied communication?  Can the human heart and mind endure the barrage of media that swirls around this web-connected world?  Faith, Incarnation, Holy Spirit – how shall we speak these words without them being simply more words on top of the many words flying around?

We invite you to the 2010 St. Olaf Conference on Worship, Theology and the Arts with the theme, “The News and the Good News.”  We hope to consider with you these important questions facing the church, the next generation of the church especially and our own interior lives of faith.

Nationally recognized, wonderful theologians, scholars, teachers, musicians and artists will be our leaders for this conversation – people who address these questions on a daily basis.

  • Daily worship serves as the foundation of the week.
  • Thoughtful lectures, plenary addresses, seminars and experiential learning opportunities will further the discussion.
  • The fellowship of colleagues and friends add to the week’s richness.

Join us – let us think together about “The News and the Good News.”

Worship Services

Load More
Return To Top


Anton Armstrong
St. Olaf College

Christopher Aspaas
St. Olaf College

Jill Peláez Baumgeartner
Wheaton College

W. Bruce Benson
St. Olaf College

John Buchanan
Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois

Jason Byassee
Duke Divinity School

Richard Crouter
Carleton College

Steve Edwins
St. Olaf College

Joshua Evanovich
GIA Publications

John Ferguson
St. Olaf College

Charles Forsberg
St. Olaf College

David Hagedorn
St. Olaf College

James Hanson
St. Olaf College

Laurie Richardson Johnson
Freelance Artist

Helen Kemp
Westminster Choir College

Jennifer Anderson Koenig
St. Olaf College

Jill Mahr
St. Olaf College

Martin Marty
University of Chicago

Jeffrey O’Donnell
St. Olaf College

Heather Potter
Charlotte Children’s Choir

Kenny Potter
Wingate University

Catherine Rodland
St. Olaf College

Carl Schalk
Concordia College, River Forest, Illinois

Thomas Schattauer
Luther Seminary

Robert Scholz
St. Olaf College

Mark Stover
Colonial Church, Edina, Minnesota

Andy Willis
St. Olaf College

Todd Wilson
Cleveland Institute of Music

Joshua Wyatt
St. Olaf College

In-depth Seminars

Anton Armstrong and Christopher Aspaas

Good News for Choir Conductors
This in-depth session lead by Anton Armstrong and Christopher Aspaas will explore topics from the philosophical to the practical: (1) The vocational call of the church musician: Why do we do this? (2) Planning, predicting, and preventing: Use your preparations and score study to prevent problems in rehearsal. (3) Rehearsal hierarchy: What is really important right now? (4) Healthy vocalism in the choral rehearsal: Use strategies to help everyone find their voice. (5) Sequencing and structuring the rehearsal for success: It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Jill Peláez Baumgaertner (With guest composer Carl Schalk)

The Word Made Flesh: Poetry and Fiction of Faith, Along With a Little Music
This course will explore poetry and fiction by writers of faith, especially those who explore the big questions: Why am I here? Who is God? What do we do with the silence of God? How do we respond as people of the Word? Among the authors discussed will be Flannery O’Connor, Leo Tolstoy, Tim Gautreaux, Mary Karr, Robert Siegel, Sydney Lea, and others. One morning session will be devoted to exploring the combination of poetry and music with the presentation of a new choral suite composed by Carl Schalk with poetry by Jill Baumgaertner.

Jason Byassee

Connectivity and Catholicity: Leading a Globalized, Digitized Church
We will examine the overlap between the claims made for digital culture and the claims of Christian theology. It is often claimed that the web offers worldwide connectivity. How does this relate to the church’s claim to be “catholic”? The web grants whatever we desire with a mere click. But how does this relate to the Christian claim that desire has to be trained? The decline of mainline churches and descriptions about the collapse of the print media parallel one another closely. What will it mean when there is no more newspaper to hold in the other hand besides the Bible? We will use stories of the saints, the work of the desert fathers, the theology of Augustine, and ancient and contemporary eschatologies.

Steve Edwins and Thomas Schattauer

Architecture and Engagement: The Word Experienced
Current trends and concerns about the spaces we use for worship, music, and other assemblies will be discussed using architectural examples. How are churches defining themselves? Does architecture shape behavior? What is meant by sacred space? Participants will contribute their experiences and thoughts about the key theological and liturgical issues raised. A quick look at models of the church over the centuries, through its architecture, will aid in understanding the social, structural, and theological roots of current church formation and renewal. One session will focus on important emerging needs for various worship styles, music groups, and new technologies. In two hands-on sessions, participants will use the vocabulary and tools acquired during the week to renew an existing space and plan a new space.

John Ferguson

Improvisation in Service Playing
Designed for those who already improvise in service playing, Ferguson will explore musical concepts with potential to enrich a congregation’s experience when singing at worship. The major focus will be on systematic methods to grow skills in the improvisation of hymn accompaniments and introductions. The challenge of leading cross-cultural song from the organ will be explored as well. Participants are encouraged to bring their organ shoes and a prepared hymn introduction or accompaniment to share with the class and be coached by Ferguson.

David Hagedorn

Ethnic Percussion in the Church
Get in the groove by making authentic sounds on congas, bongos, djembe, and “toys” with master percussionist David Hagedorn. Learn West African and African rhythms, improvisation, and how to use effective percussion with ethnic hymnody in your church. Participants may bring instruments if they have them. The instruments will be securely locked in the seminar room for the week.

Jill Mahr

Conducting Handbells
Sharpen your conducing skills, as participants form a choir, conduct each other, and receive feedback. Jill Mahr will cover topics such as basic and advanced conducting skills, score preparation, rehearsal techniques, and effective leadership.

Heather Potter (With guest speaker Helen Kemp)

Learning and Singing the Good News in the Children’s Choir
As we consider the importance of the children’s choir in the life of the church, we will discuss characteristics of the child’s voice, explore appropriate repertoire for children, investigate teaching techniques that lead to music-reading skills, and consider opportunities for faith development through the church children’s choir. One hour daily will be spent in conversation, and one hour will be spent observing the Choir Connection Youth Choir rehearsal. Helen Kemp will lead the conversation on Thursday.

Todd Wilson

The Complete Church Organist
Todd Wilson will focus on the practical aspects of liturgical organ playing with the goal of encouraging all toward ever more effective, creative, and vital music-making. Topics will include hymn playing, repertoire-based improvisation, efficient and effective practice techniques, and a survey of recent/practical repertoire including music for organ and instruments.

Special Interest Sessions

Anton Armstrong

The Challenges of the Underdeveloped Singer
In his career, Anton Armstrong has worked with children through adults. This session will explore the challenges that have been common in all age groups for those who have difficulty in matching pitch accurately and other vocal issues.

Christopher Aspaas

But how does it SOUND?: Tools for Crafting and Unifying Choral Tone
Singing is not just “on” or “off,” “right” or “wrong.” Every note and phrase contains a myriad of sounds, even in ensembles with limited resources. This session will be dedicated to shaping the sound of your choir—from kids to adults—through vocalization, gesture, and rehearsal techniques.

Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

Poetry as Liturgy
Jill Peláez Baumgaertner will read her poetry and discuss the development of her interests from earlier confessional poems to current, more liturgical verse. She will consider questions such as: Is poetry merely self-expression or should it attempt to be more expansive? How does one avoid the pitfalls of narcissism in writing autobiographical verse? How does liturgy help anchor poetry?

John Buchanan

The Church as Public Voice
The role of church as public institution and the vocation of clergy as pastor, priest and prophet are complex: Who are we to be raising and commenting on difficult, often controversial issues? Why do we? Does it matter?

Jason Byassee

Journalism as a Christian Practice
How does Christian faith affect the way we write? Surely we can do more than get down the 5 w’s, hit spellcheck and send it in. Christianity and modern journalism are both ways of seeing, premised on particular understandings of desire, assuming a politics (democracy and church). How can the way we see the world, as Christians, ministers and musicians, improve the way we write, and vice-versa?

John Ferguson

Leading Global Song from the Organ Bench
Can we lead cross cultural hymns/songs from the organ? Yes! So, which ones? This session will explore concepts for playing and offer specific examples of cross cultural congregational song that works well led form the organ.

David Hagedorn

Ethnic Hand Percussion in the Church
Make authentic sounds on congas, bongos, djembe and “toys.” Learn West African and African rhythms, improvisation. Learn how to use effective percussion with ethnic hymnody.

James Hanson

Faith Comes by Hearing: Reading Scripture in Worship
The public reading of scripture lies at the heart of our worship, yet we rarely give it the time or attention it needs to make it as powerful and meaningful as it could be. This session will focus on some basic techniques and strategies that will help make scripture come alive in worship, and suggest ways to develop a scripture-reading “team” in your congregation.

Helen Kemp

Finding Our Common Voice: Commonality Within Diversity
Children’s choirs, church choirs, school choirs, community choirs, auditioned choirs, “please come!” choirs, etc. What are the commonalities? What musical, choral, social, cultural goals do we share? What about repertoire? Is there a “one size fits all” formula to assure a standard of excellence? How can we embrace and support each other within this kaleidoscope of diversity? These questions deserve our careful consideration. Let’s talk!”

Jennifer Anderson Koenig

Boe Chapel Windows: Permanent Artwork, Powerful Theology
Tour the Boe Chapel windows and think about how this artist preaches and teaches the Bible and church history every day to the St. Olaf Community and its guests.

Jennifer Koenig and Laurie Richardson Johnson

Drawing From the Pictures Within You: Nurturing the Work of our Faith by Nurturing Artists and Arts
We are rushing. There is so much to do. Yet inside we feel a tug, a pull, a yearning to stop, to ponder, to listen and discern how God is working in our communities and what is our part in that. What will help us listen? Artists and the arts provide a thoughtful vessel for a community of faith. It may be that receiving from artists’ gifts or picking up pencil or clay or a camera on your own opens the door to unexplored places in this holy life—places of healing, peace or gratitude. How do we nurture this way of being and this vision in our communities and in our worship. Please join this conversation if you are interested in fostering the arts, visual expression and the deep pictures within your congregation.

Jill Mahr

Left Hand, Right Hand, Switch Hands, Which Hands?
A hands-on session for learning techniques and strategies to get through those impossible spots in your music and applying them to specific musical examples from our repertoire.

Martin Marty

Interpreting Your Internet from Your Bible
Karl Barth, considered by many to have been the foremost theologian of the 20th Century, advised young theologians to “take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret your newspaper from your Bible.” Now people paraphrase this to something like this: “Prepare your message with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” That was good publicity for the “the media” as bearers of culture, but it under-emphasized Barth’s main point, which will be picked up here. If our strategy is simply to be relevant to the existing world, we Christians will fail to change the world, gain a hearing or be refreshed and reborn ourselves. Turn Barth around and stress how the Bible (The Good News) when given its chance, has power to shape, so that “the world around” has reason to pay attention. Marty will draw on two texts by Dietrich Bonhoeffer for discussion.

Jeffrey O’Donnell

An Introduction to Finale
Computer music notation made practical for the church musician. This introductory session will show you what Finale can do and will cover some of the program basics.

Jeffrey O’Donnell and Joshua Wyatt

Sound Reinforcement, Recording and Video Streaming for the Church: A Case Study
This demonstration session will explore the challenges and opportunities for sound reinforcement, recording and video streaming for a variety of acoustical situations and equipment. Using the audio/visual system of Boe Memorial Chapel as an example, we will demonstrate techniques and concepts that will help improve key aspects of audio and video distribution operations in your church

Jeffrey O’Donnell and Joshua Evanovich

Doing Right by Copyright: Licensing and Reprint Permissions for the Church
Do you have a favorite song not in your church’s hymnal, but don’t know if it’s legal to reprint words/melody in a worship bulletin? Maybe you’re interested in podcasting worship services, or creating a rehearsal CD for your choir? You won’t want to miss this session for a thorough introduction to the world of copyright permissions, licensing services, and usage reporting. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll leave with ease of mind—knowing that you can do the right thing and even save time and money in the process.

Kenney Potter

The Adolescent Singer: Practical Ideas for Vocal Development
We will discuss vocal development issues and ideas for the male and female adolescent singer.

Catherine Rodland

Repertoire for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany
A survey of works, both chorale-based and free appropriate for preludes and postludes throughout the Christmas season. Special focus on works published in the last ten years.

Brahms and Mendelssohn: Baroque or Romantic?
Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn have written some of the staple works of the organ repertoire, and both were greatly indebted to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Session will focus on the influence of the Baroque master on each of these composers, and how that might affect interpretation and registration of their works.

Carl Schalk

Tools for Assessing New (and Old) Texts and Tunes
A fresh look at assessing texts and tunes for use in worship. Examining the theology of texts as well as the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic characteristics of tunes which make for effective and useful music for both congregation and choir.

Robert Scholz

Arranging Music for Your Choir
A session focused on how to arrange for your particular choir needs. The presentation of basic principles will be supported with practical application by class members. Composing of descants for hymns, reducing four-part writing to three parts, and creating easy antiphons for the psalms are among the topics for possible consideration.

Mark Stover and Charles Forsberg

Collaborate, Integrate, and Innovate: Empowering the Voice of Your Congregation through Dynamic Worship Exploration.
The church in the 21st Century is as diverse as ever, particularly in how we worship. How do we as leaders of the people’s song find the diversity in the voices we lead as a way toward unity in the body? We’ll reflect on Monday evening’s worship service in Boe Chapel, discuss worship leadership strategies and musical integrity that transcends stylistic stereotypes, and much more. Come join the dialogue between two colleagues from Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota and hear how their collaborative partnership as a 60-something and 30-something helps shape their congregation’s worship life and be encouraged in your own worship leadership exploration.

From Organ Shoes to Amplifiers: A church Musician’s Guide to Leading and Playing in a Worship Band.
So you find yourself in charge of the new emergent worship service and you don’t know where to begin. Or, maybe you’ve been leading or overseeing the worship band for several years now but have yet to discover any passion for it. Whether you’ve been leading “contemporary” expressions throughout your years in ministry or have your first shot at it this Sunday, come be encouraged, empowered, and rejuvenated in this practical seminar to equip you in your leadership and understanding of the worship band in your church.

Andy Willis

“Enemy of Apathy”: An Introduction to the Iona Community and Its Worship
This session will introduce the Iona Community and its contribution to the church’s song. While music written by members of the Community has found its way into a number of our hymnals, many have never been introduced to the Community or the wealth of resources it produces for congregational worship. The Iona Community practices an engaged spirituality, “seeking new ways of living the Gospel in today’s world,” and its worship beautifully reflects this perspective. We’ll begin with a brief introduction to the Community and spend the bulk of our time singing a number of its songs.


Adorn This House, Jeanette Paulson
Duluth, Minnesota

Augsburg Fortress Worship Music
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Choristers Guild
Dallas, Texas

Concordia Publishing House
St. Louis, Missouri

Faith Alive Christian Resources
Grand Rapids, Michigan

GIA Publications, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

I Weave What I Believe, Barbara Berg
Decorah, Iowa

InSpirita Art Quilts and Paraments
Northfield, Minnesota

Interwoven: Textiles for Spirit and Space
Forest City, Iowa

Kallman Creates Publications
Northfield, Minnesota

Luther Seminary Master of Sacred Music Program
St. Paul, Minnesota

MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc.
Fenton, Missouri

Musical Resources
Toledo, Ohio

Penscriptions Calligraphy, Judy Dodd
St. Paul, Minnesota

Sing For Joy Radio Program
Northfield, Minnesota

United Theological Seminary
New Brighton, Minnesota