Worship Symposium

by Elly Boersma, 2nd year M.A. 

In Christ There is No East or West

 On Wednesday morning, the international guests for the Calvin Symposium on Worship Symposium descended upon the Seminary building, later than scheduled, but in eager anticipation for what was to come during their stay in Grand Rapids. The day had been diligently scheduled for the international guests down to the hour, but it should be no surprise that the rush and hurry we experience within North American schedules does not translate to other cultures. We talk in global worship about the Nairobi Statement and how aspects of worship are transcultural, but our sense of time is not. As a portion of the Seminary community worshiped with the international guests in chapel, we were blessed with a service celebrating the many cultures represented. The building was a-buzz. This little foretaste of Symposium had those of us involved salivating with anticipation of what was to come.

 One cannot fully comprehend the scope and depth of planning that goes into the Calvin Symposium on Worship until they experience some behind-the-scenes glances of all that is involved. And even then, my brief experience as a building host at this year’s Symposium is only a taste of all the energy, hours, and intent that was put into this great event. If you missed it, you really missed out.

“Cheetahs with ADD”

 As a building host for the Seminary, some of my main tasks were checking people in, directing them where to go, and overseeing that the sessions in the Seminary all had a presenter show up along with any handouts necessary. The harried nature of the job was described by one presenter as “cheetahs with ADD”; running around like crazy all the time, but getting distracted along the way. Although I did not see many sessions, hear many talks, or worship in many services in their entirety, I still feel I was blessed by experiencing the Worship Symposium this year.

 Typically, there was registration and check-in to help out with in the mornings, so I did not see much of the morning worship services, but in the evenings, we were able to attend the worship services. These, along with the vespers services in the Seminary building, were a huge blessing. On Thursday, the vespers at the Seminary was “In Christ There is no East or West”, a service with music from Asia. We were given strict instructions not to let people in after the service had started for recording purposes. This meant bouncing both my vocational mentor and Dr. John Witvliet from entering. No, I was not power-hungry, just following orders. On Friday a group called the Ethnodoxologists led a vespers service on the persecuted church around the world using global music.

 After the evening worship services, as all the local guests were finding their own way out, our job was to usher those from out of town onto the correct buses to be taken back to their hotels. This task is easier said than done, as buses may not show up where they need to be, an auditorium full of people needs to be cleared out with no one left behind, and we are seeking efficiency because a warm bed awaits our tired bodies.

 As quickly as it had started, the Worship Symposium was over. The little sleep, long days, and over-caffeination were taking their toll on my body. I was ready for rest. To cap off the weekend, we had a celebratory dinner at the Prince Conference Center with the international guests, who this year felt compelled to publicly thank us and share some songs. The group from Nigeria even had us dancing! What a wonderful opportunity to be a part of such a (cont’d page 10) great conference. I highly recommend at least attending the Worship Symposium next year, especially with the Seminary price. There is no reason not to!

Highlight: Lunch with Marva

 Had I not been working for the Worship Symposium, I would not have chosen to pay for meals at the cafeteria, but I would have missed out on some great conversations. One notable meal was spent with Marva Dawn and her husband Myron. Although it took me most of the meal to discover who she really was, I was just smitten with this lovely couple from “the original Vancouver” who were so pleasant and down-to-earth to talk to. You would never have known she was one of the biggest keynote speakers at the event. We talked about the west coast and the delicious food we were eating for lunch. I recommended the chocolate mousse to her as a dessert even though it was deceivingly stationed at the salad bar, and she was grateful for my recommendation. She was also grateful for her delightful husband Myron getting it for her. What a lovely couple! I must say she was my favorite presenter at the Worship Symposium this year. She gets a lot of bonus points for eating lunch with me…twice! But for real, she is just so genuine and sweet and so insightful! What a delight!