Today at the WELS National Worship Conference we are off to New Ulm, MN, where we will have classes and worship at Martin Luther College. An institution of the WELS, they will showcase the fabulous new chapel they have built there. We will enjoy the day there, and then return to St. Peter this evening. (The conference is hosted at Gustavus Adolphus College because there is not room to accommodate 1000 people in the dorms at Martin Luther College)
Yesterday, the keynote address, "Passing the Torch" highlighted the role of the church musician as the one who hands down a tradition. This reminds me of my work in Africa, where Lutherans there eagerly desire to learn the hymns of our faith, and so treat me as some sort of esteemed elder who teaches them the family story. Whether born into a family or adopted into a family, someone who is truly part of a family wants to know the family traditions. Musicians serve the Lord's ministry by teaching and celebrating the family song, that they may also tell "the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done." (Ps. 78)
Rev. Aaron Christie, who is a musician as well as a pastor, encouraged us with five principles to help us "pass it on":
* Strive for a life-long pursuit of excellence.
* Proclaim the Gospel always in our music and our art.
* Be students of art and culture, and carefully apply your learning to the art of church music.
* Develop along with your art. Make the best of the various styles your own.
* Teach your craft to young musicians, and inspire them to be the next generation of leaders.
Seeing all the young people here at the conference, I think the WELS is definitely passing the torch. May all Christian churches learn from their example.