Ministers and faith leaders from across the state will gather in the Capital City this weekend to explore new ways to worship while also exchanging ideas with each other.
And the public is invited to the non-traditional worship services that will be part of the Disciples of Christ Midwest Regional Assembly hosted by First Christian Church today through Sunday.
"We hope they will be inspired by the worship services and the assembly," said the Rev. Don Carter, senior minister. "It's an old message, but God's always trying to break through in new ways."
Hip-hop music and dance, performed by the worship team from Liberation Christian Church in St. Louis, will open the first worship service at 7:30 p.m. today at First Baptist Church, 301 E. Capitol Ave.
At 5 p.m. Saturday, music will enhance a contemplative-style worship service, also at First Baptist Church. And the final service at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at First Christian Church, 327 E. Capitol Ave., will feature a more traditional approach to worship. The Jane Froman Singers from Columbia College and professors of music from Culver-Stockton College will perform.
"There are a lot of alternative ways to approach God through worship," said Bob Priddy. So this conference is focused on exploring non-traditional ways to worship.
First Christian began experimenting with non-traditional services several years ago, Carter said.
Organizers hope the opportunity will benefit local denominations as well as the representatives from about 400 Disciples of Christ congregations across the state.
"I think there will be something here for everyone in the community to find variety," Carter said.
The Rev. Richard Hamm will be the keynote speaker at each service. He served as pastor of congregations for 26 years and served as general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) from 1993-2003.
Hamm is a noted speaker and author on the subject of church renewal and transformation. Currently, he is the executive director of Christian Churches Together in the USA.
Based on Isaiah 43:19, the conference's theme is "God is Doing a New Thing."
"Every generation looks for new ways to find faith meaningful to them and express that faith and share that faith," Priddy said.
Looking back at 1920s sermons or hymn texts before that, it's clear each era has its own words and ways that speak to that generation, Priddy observed.
"The church has to respond to be viable for future generations," Priddy said. "Congregations have to remain fluid.
"They can't thrive, grow and be of service if they remain rooted in the styles of the past."
Call 636-5157 for more information.