Twenty-seven songwriters gathered at Trinity Church, Fishers, Indiana, March 14 to 16, to participate in the second Wesleyan Worship Project retreat. Their goal was to create some new and distinctly Wesleyan songs to share with The Wesleyan Church and others who share Wesleyan theology.

“Our hope,” said Josh Lavender, Trinity Church Worship director, “is that through prayer, study, discussion and work, friendship and shared meals, and above all, God’s creative grace, we will be able to offer the Church a fresh musical take on themes such as holiness, social justice, perfect love, etc.” Lavender, assisted by Bernedette Haddad, organized the retreat.

The Wesleyan Worship Project, a grassroots initiative led by Lavender, builds on and incorporates elements of the Worship Arts Collective formed in 2013 to create space for worship leaders to collaborate.

Retreat sessions preceding group writing breakouts were led by Dr. Lester Ruth, Duke Divinity School research professor of Christian Worship, Emily Vermilya, College Wesleyan Church executive pastor, and Lavender. Songwriter and producer Andrea Hunter contributed leadership to various writing breakouts. Each writing group was responsible to compose music and write lyrics based on self-selected scriptures. Open mic performances of the newly-composed songs ended each day of the retreat. More than 20 songs were written during the retreat.

Worship leaders traveled from New York, Maryland and throughout the Midwest to attend.

The Wesleyan Worship Project is co-sponsored by Church Multiplication and Discipleship and Wesleyan Publishing House with twice annual retreats planned. Plans include posting worship resources on The Wesleyan Church Resource Center, publishing some of the compositions and hosting a concert featuring Wesleyan Worship Project participants and some of their new songs during the 2020 General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

Songwriters Retreat (March 14-16, 2019)