2012 Conference Archive

Confluence: Gathered in God’s Grace

Confluence — the meeting of two or more streams.CWTA 2012 Logo

When streams of water join together it calls to mind something almost primordial – the first words of creation, turbulence and chaos becoming orderly and purposeful.  Water is the essential element of all life, necessary for bodies and land.  Water is the gift of baptism, our strong identity carrying us through this world like the powerful flow of a river that has emerged from many streams.

Confluence — the meeting of two or more streams.

When different streams of thought or associations or loyalties convene often, like water, turbulence occurs.  And in this time in history tempest and division feel like the general way of being.  So confluence is a prayer, a longing to be gathered from our separate places, to come together in communion with Christ and with one another, as God’s whole, cherished people.

Confluence — the meeting of two or more streams.

When we began this conference at opening worship we were confluent, a collection of people from all across this church joining together for learning, listening and nourishment.

Worship Services

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Anton Armstrong
St. Olaf College

Bruce A. Bengtson
Luther Memorial Church, Madison, Wisconsin

James E. Bobb
St. Olaf College

Emile Bouvier
St. Olaf College

Judy Bowers
Florida State University

Walter and Tannie Eshenaur
UNICEF and the Minnesota Department of Health

Mari Espelund
St. Olaf College

John Ferguson
St. Olaf College

Charles Forsberg
Colonial Church, Edina, Minnesota

Amy Frykholm
Scholar, Writer and Journalist

David Hagedorn
St. Olaf College

Laurie Richardson Johnson
Artist and Teacher

Jennifer Anderson Koenig
St. Olaf College

Kristen Kvam
Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri

David Lose
Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

Jill Mahr
St. Olaf College

Matthew Marohl
St. Olaf College

Jeffrey O’Donnell
St. Olaf College

Meg Ojala
St. Olaf College

Diane Paulu
Liturgical Artist

Donald E. Saliers
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

Elizabeth Shepley
Northfield Youth Choirs, Northfield, Minnesota

Benjamin Stewart
Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, Illinois

Mark Stover
Colonial Church, Edina, Minnesota

Sean Tonko
St. Olaf College

Christian Wiman
Editor, Poetry Magazine

Joshua Wyatt
St. Olaf College

In-depth Seminars

Bruce Bengtson

The Empathetic Organist
This session will be an in-depth study of the organist’s role as leader and accompanist in the liturgical service.  Organ literature, hymn playing, and opportunity for class participation at the organ will round out the course.

Judy Bowers

Creative Confluence: Effective Music Making
As choral musicians of all ages gather for music making and worship, enormous planning and effort are required to structure success for all who want to participate. This in-depth seminar will be experiential in nature, providing pedagogy that can nurture singers in the many varied church music settings which abound. Primarily, the focus will be on rehearsal issues: music skill building, musical independence, re-voicing music, and expressive performance. In addition, the role of teacher delivery and pacing will be incorporated into rehearsal strategies.

John Ferguson

Improvisation – Lace Up Your Organ Shoes!
Designed for those who already improvise in service playing, Ferguson will explore musical concepts with potential to enrich a congregation’s experience when singing.  The major focus will be on systematic methods to grow skills in the improvisation of introductions and accompaniments for hymn singing including cross-cultural song.  Participants should prepare a hymn and introduction to share with the class and be coached by Ferguson.  Every participant should bring organ shoes and expect to play for each other.

Amy Frykholm

Acts of Attention: Listening for the Story in Biblical Texts and People
As a scholar, writer and journalist, Amy Frykholm has considered an array of subjects. She has interviewed women recovering from prostitution and migrants, missionaries, apocalyptic believers and sex addicts. She has written on contemplative Christianity and popular literature.  In every case, her writing is based on careful listening to people and texts. To each subject, she brings what she calls an “empathetic imagination” that involves both active attention and inquisitive analysis. In this session, Frykholm will lead participants in methods to engage both biblical texts and people in ways that draw their stories forward. Wewill discuss practices of listening, modes of attention and writing exercises that will aid participants in using empathetic imagination in their own “life work.” Amy Frykholm’s most recent book is See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity (Beacon). She works as a special correspondent to The Christian Century. Participants are encouraged to read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich  by Alexander Solzhenitsyn before the conference. Suggested translators are Ralph Parker or H.T. Willetts.

David Hagedorn

Ethnic Percussion in the Church
Get in the groove as you make authentic sounds on congas, bongos, djembe and “toys.” Learn West African and African rhythms, improvisation and how to use effective percussion with ethnic hymnody in your church. Bring instruments if you have them; they will be securely locked in the seminar room for the week.

Kristen E. Kvam and Don E. Saliers

Wonder and Woe: The Psalms in Worship and Life
The Psalms have long informed the daily life and congregational worship of Christians. This in-depth seminar examines the Psalms from several vantage points: liturgy and the church year, daily life and life passages, history and theology.  The seminar also employs several ways to study the psalms: music and singing, reading and listening, reflecting and conversing. Participants in this seminar are urged to read William P. Brown’s Psalms in Abingdon Press’s  Interpreting Biblical Texts series. (ISBN: 978-0-687-00845-2)
Sketch of Sessions:

  • Tuesday:   Rediscovering the Psalms in Contemporary Culture: Psalms as Scripture, Prayer, and Poetry.   In this introductory session we will establish ways of “reading” and thinking about the psalms, particularly in light of our present contexts.
  • Wednesday:   Psalms of Praise and Lament.  Examining specific psalms, we will study the structures of praise and lament.  We also will explore several musical settings for these psalms as well as look at the use of such psalms by Luther and other theologians.
  • Thursday:   The Liturgical Use of the Psalms.   Careful examination of particular psalms will nourish our study of the ways that psalms are necessary to the church year and essential to the liturgy. We also will examine ways that certain hymns draw upon particular psalms.
  • Friday:  The Psalms on Life Passages.    In this session we will attend to the ways that the psalms resound with the range of human emotions. We also will examine their use during important life passages. We will conclude with specific musical settings.

Jill Mahr

Literature & Programming for Handbell Choirs
Discussion will focus on programming from many different viewpoints – programming for a whole year, for a season, for a particular choir, for fewer ringers and for ringer retention.  Participants will play literature, discuss it, and come away with music and ideas to breathe new life into your choirs.

Ben Stewart

The Underground River: Surprising Dimensions of Baptismal Theology
Martin Luther was a theologian of baptism, but the reforming movement he launched remains largely unaware of some of the daring leaps into baptismal waters that his theology calls for or implies. In this course we will dive right into exploring implications of Luther’s theology of baptism in such diverse areas as ecology, renewal of worship, appreciation for the human body, and living a meaningful daily life. Luther’s theology serves as a prominent theme in the course, but the confluence is wide: the course is designed for participants of any denominational tradition.

Christian Wiman

Poetry as a Way of Staying Alive, Professionally, Spiritually, and Literally
This workshop will focus on poetry as prayer, theology, liturgy, and personal spiritual expression.  Two days will be devoted to exploring the poems of various poets–some writing in English, some in translation–whose work, whatever the personal inclinations of the individual writers, has some spiritual element or focus relevant to Christians.  Another day will be spent discussing with Wiman his own most recent poems and the path he has taken to them.  On the fourth day, participants will be encouraged (but not forced!) to bring in their own poems to read aloud and discuss.

Special Interest Sessions

Anton Armstrong

Practical Vocal Pedagogy for the Church Choir
Dr. Armstrong will address practical, healthy vocal techniques for use in the church choir rehearsal and which can enable every choir member to improve their singing skills.  Issues to be addressed are breathing for singing, “speaking channel versus the singing channel”, practical tips for enhancing the aging voice; and communicating with more expressive choral diction. All this and more will be explored by the good Doctor A!

A Century of Singing: the St. Olaf Choir at 100!
Anton Armstrong, the fourth conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, will trace the evolution of the choir from its earliest roots as the St. John’s Lutheran Church Choir 100 years ago. The changes in tone, genres and interpretations of music show distinct differences among the conductors–and yet many similarities.  What is the legacy of the St. Olaf choral tradition to choral music in the United States, especially to those working in 21st century church ? Dr. Armstrong will share insights about the impact that being in choir has on its members well beyond the years of actually being the choir, and he will take a quick peek into the future as well as the second one hundred years of the St. Olaf Choir begins.

Bruce Bengtson

The Lutheran Organist – an Historical Perspective
Gain a better understanding of today’s Lutheran Organist by looking at the job description of the Lutheran Organist from past centuries.

Bruce Bengtson & Elizabeth Shepley

Choristers Guild Reading Session
Including a wide variety of selections for children’s, youth, and adult choirs, the Choristers Guild reading session will provide many excellent anthems to program in your upcoming choir year. The selections will span varying levels of difficulty and will cover Advent, Christmas, and General seasons.

Judy Bowers

Including Musical Literacy and Critical Thinking in Church Choir Rehearsals
Since literacy contribute to the develoment of independent singers, this session will focus on ways to embed music literacy and skill building into church choir rehaearsals. In addition, opportunities for singers to use critical analysis while learning music will be addressed.

Emilie Bouvier

Visual Arts in Worship and Outreach: Engaging Tradition, Practice and Community
In today’s culture of media saturation, we cannot escape the mass of visual images that feed into our modes of communication and identity. How can the Church engage the visual arts in ways that do not adopt the slick advertising techniques of today nor revert to copying the archaic artistic styles of the Medieval European Church? In addressing the historical context and theological issues at stake, we will look at how congregations can make use of visual art in conscious and meaningful ways. Focusing on worship and community outreach, we will discuss how visual art can enrich the life and ministry of communities of faith.

Mari Espeland

Orff-Schulwerk with Your Children’s Choirs: Orff Instruments and MORE!
Explore the endless possibilities of speech, movement, singing and Orff instruments that spring from using an Orff-Schulwerk approach with your children’s choirs. Come prepared to to participate in the Orff-Schulwerk process. Step-by-step notes provided along with a resource list.

Walter Eshenaur

Water is Life!
“Water is life!”, as one Ethiopian mother exclaimed as she drank deeply from a new water supply, holds deep meaning on many levels.  In their 13 years as engineering and public health professionals working as missionaries and with UNICEF in Ethiopia and Somalia, and, more recently, volunteer work with Engineers Without Borders, Walter and Tannie Eshenaur have enabled thousands of people to draw life-sustaining water from wells, springs, and collection tanks.  At the same time, God enabled the planting and growth of His church within many of the same communities.  Our presentation will  explore the deep theological implications of Isaiah’s prophetic words “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation,” (Isaiah 12:3),  and illustrate how the Eshenaurs have put those words into action using the confluence of physical and spiritual water.

John Ferguson

The Organ for Non Organists — and Organists, too
The organ is one of the most versatile and misunderstood of all instruments.  We will take a look at the organ from the perspective of how it works tonally and how to use it in the best ways to accompany singing, both choral and congregational.  The goal is to develop ways of speaking about organ sounds so non organists and organists can better communicate and collaborate.

Amy Frykholm

Acts of Attention
Simone Weil called attention “the rarest and purest form of generosity.” In this special session, Amy Frykholm will explore what attention means in acts of writing, reading, preaching and ministry, the difficulties of being attentive and how we might cultivate this important capacity.

David Hagedorn

Ethnic Hand Percussion in the Church
Get in the groove as you make authentic sounds on congas, bongos, djembe and “toys.” Learn West African and African rhythms, improvisation and how to use effective percussion with ethnic hymnody in your church. Bring instruments if you have them; they will be securely locked in the seminar room for the week.

Laurie Johnson and Diane Paulu

Listen, Follow, Create: Visual Art in Worship
Over the past year, the visual artists for CWTA have been sketching, scavenging, exploring and building on the themes of “Confluence” for the CWTA worship spaces and for the art exhibit in Flaten Gallery.  How did the artists arrive at the images and forms we see expressed through the CWTA logo and worship spaces? What does it mean when artists say they “listen to” and “follow” a work of art?  Come and bring your questions and comments to this informal gathering with Diane and Laurie to discuss the process and outcome of this year’s collaborative CWTA visual art. In addition, let’s share ideas, materials, methods and questions that might stir the imagination and invite the spirit into our midst. What inclinations and talents of yours (and of the people in your faith community) might be hiding under a bushel waiting to be called into artistic action? Let’s have a conversation.

Kristen E. Kvam and Don E. Saliers

Images and Emotions in the Psalms: in conversation with Augustine and Luther
This session will focus on the relationship between particular images from writings on the psalms by Augustine and Luther.   Special attention is given to the relationships between particular images and the religious affections elicited in and by the psalms.

David Lose

Preaching 2.0
Living in an increasingly digital culture, most of us have experienced a shift from being simply receivers of information to also being producers of it, and from being passive listeners to active collaborators in messaging. Yet much preaching remains uniformly mono-directional and transactional in nature. This session will suggest possibilities for developing a more participatory style of preaching, one which encourages congregants to do more than merely listen by becoming participants in the sermon and better interpreters of Scripture, faith, and life.

Jill Mahr

Basic Handbell Technique
Brush up on basic ringing and handbell techniques found in today’s music.

Handbell Reading Session
An opportunity to read and play through recently published handbell music.

Jeffrey O’Donnell, Joshua Wyatt and Sean Tonko

Media in Worship: Sound Reinforcement, Recording and Webcasting: A Case Study
This demonstration session will explore the challenges and opportunities for sound reinforcement, recording, webcasting and other technologies for worship spaces. Using the audio/visual system of Boe Memorial Chapel as an example, we will demonstrate techniques and concepts that will help improve many aspects of audio and video distribution operations in your church.  Will include Q & A — come with questions!

Meg Ojala

The Nicollet Project
The Nicollet Project retraces Joseph P. Nicollet’s expedition routes, juxtaposing descriptive passages from Nicollet’s diaries as well as those of his partner, botanist Charles A. Geyer, with photographs of the modern landscape, chemical testing of water quality in lakes along his routes, and a reconstruction of changes in productivity and eutrophication in these lakes and surrounding watersheds using dated lake sediments. Nicollet (1786-1843)has been described as a “scientis with the sensitivities of an artist.” Images from the project will be shown in the Flaten Art Gallery during the conference.

Ben Stewart

Baptism and the Waters of the Earth
In the Gospels, baptism first appears not only as an immersion in a river, but also as a pilgrimage to the edge of the wilderness, where the wild man John the Baptizer presided, and where the nonhuman creation flourished. How does a contemporary theology of baptism address the ecological emergencies facing the planet today, especially those involving water? Exploring ecological ethics and baptismal theology and practice, this session traces the waters of baptism as they flow into the promised renewed creation, where the river flows beside the Tree of Life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.

Mark Stover

Arranging Hymnody for the Worship Band
Too simple?  Too complex?  Too repetitive?  Too much?!!!  Whatever your context may be, come an learn practical tools for arranging hymnody to be played and led by your worship band in a way that will engage all who sit in the pews. Demonstration, participation, and accessible application will help guide us through this session under Mark Stover’s leadership.

For All The Saints — Empowering The Worshiping Voice of the People of God
How do we impress upon the congregation that they are the primary choir of the church?  How is the “empowered voice of the people” strengthened and nourished to be sent out from the church into the world in which we live?  Come and explore this critical worship and music leadership topic together!

Christian Wiman

Varieties of Quiet: Rethinking the Language in Which We Talk About Faith
Christian Wiman will share a chapter from his upcoming book, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, March 2013)


Adorn this House / Jeannette Paulson
Duluth, Minnesota

Association of Lutheran Church Musicians
Valparaiso, Indiana

Augsburg Fortress Worship Music
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Chillon Leach, Artist and Art Servant
St. Paul, Minnesota

Chorister’s Guild
Dallas, Texas

Concordia Publishing House
St. Louis, Missouri

Faith Alive Resources
Grand Rapids, Michigan

I Weave What I Believe / Barbara Berg
Decorah, Iowa

InSpirits: Art Quilts and Parament / Cindy Robinson
Northfield, Minnesota

Interwoven / Ann H. Anderson
Forest City, Iowa

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

MorningStar Music Publishers
Fenton, Missouri

Musical Resources
Toledo, Ohio

Navajo Lutheran Miision
Rock Point, Arizona

Sing For Joy Radio Program
Northfield, Minnesota