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Jan  2015 27
Imagining Worship in New Ways

Chapel photo

Directors of Worship Chuck and Gina Jackson joined Phillips Theological Seminary with a specific goal in mind: imagine new ways of engaging the seminary community in worship. Instructor in Ministry Studies Susanna Southard, who led chapel services in the spring, says their focus is in response to a series of community conversations that examined what worship at Phillips should be.

Students, staff and faculty met four times during the 2014 spring semester to discuss ideas and expectations of worship. The Jacksons, who have been leading worship together for seven years, were chosen to make the suggestions a reality. Southard says the services this fall have had a high level of energy and creativity, and that chapel attendance has increased for both the Tuesday and Thursday services.

“The main difference is the positive buzz that worship this semester is generating,” Southard said. “Students, faculty and staff have all shown appreciation for the excellent work Gina and Chuck are doing.”

Southard says the spring worship conversations revealed a community desire for both direct and indirect connection between chapel, coursework and community life. In response, the Jacksons often design worship services to reflect the life of the seminary. Gina Jackson says the variety of services has been well-received because people are willing to facilitate and enter communal worship.

“There’s an openness of going with the flow of God’s energy in the worship that’s being imagined and created,” she said. “I think it’s a co-creation with God and with a lot of people; students, faculty, staff—everyone’s participating.”

Nancy Pittman Communion
Children Worship and Wonder
Jam Band
U2Charist Communion

Chuck Jackson says Phillips creates a safe space for seeking God. He hopes the chapel services reinforce the spiritual aspects of classroom discoveries.

“I think it’s an added benefit to the community for students to see their professors in the worship setting, and I think it’s an added benefit for the professors to see their students involved in worship,” he said. “It keeps in the forefront of our mind why we’re here: to seek and to serve God.”

Southard says the Jacksons are attentive to the experience of people in worship, and they have taken requests for diverse worship experiences to heart.

“Collaboration, creativity, passion and attention to detail – these are all gifts the Jacksons bring,” she said. “I have nothing but confidence in their capacity to continue leading us forward in seminary worship life.”

Learn more about worship services at Phillips here or follow #PhillipsWorship on Twitter.

Browse more posts by: Communications Office, Phillips Admin/Staff
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