Nation’s largest worship gathering held at Gustavus Adolphus
More than 1,000 people participate in Wisconsin Synod event
More than 1,000 people from at least 41 states and hundreds of congregations
attended “The National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts,” sponsored
by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s (WELS) Commission on Worship.
The conference was held at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota,
at the end of July.
This triennial conference brings together worship leaders, musicians, educators,
pastors, and denominational staff to discuss the centrality of worship in the life
of WELS and to look at new trends and resources. At the 2008 conference, new
worship settings from the recently released supplement to Christian Worship,
the WELS hymnal, were used. These services were recorded so they could be
available for congregations as they prepared to use the supplement, according
to the Rev. Bryan Gerlach, the administrator of the Commission on Worship.
“WELS is experiencing a Renaissance in music and worship,” said Aaron Mood, a
pianist from Greensboro, North Carolina. “My pastor suggested I come to get
ideas how to revitalize worship services that had become, maybe, too
formulaic.” Mood is a member of Star of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Winston-
Salem, originally a mission congregation of the Lutheran Church — Missouri
Synod that now aligns with WELS.
Kate Carlovsky of West Bend, Wisconsin, was attending her fourth WELS worship
conference. “I glean things to bring back to use in the congregation or another
setting,” she said.
In addition to the large worship opportunities, the conference is an educational
event. Scores of workshops range from histories of Lutheran hymnody to issues
concerning contemporary worship to Luther’s impact on European governance.
Concerts, primarily organized around the organ, are another centerpiece of the
conference. And all aspects of the worship conference adhere to a strong
But, clearly, the worship services are central to the conference, and likely the
primary draw. “The main draw is the worship,” Carlovsky explained. “The
opening worship is as close to heaven as you’ll get in this life.”
For those unable to attend the worship conference, local events are planned to
introduce the Christian Worship supplement, including two in the Twin Cities
area. (See the MetroCalendar, page 24, for November 8 and 22 listings.)