Methodists Celebrate Music Past, Present and Future

The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts celebrated its 50th anniversary on July 10-14 with a dazzling convocation in San Francisco. Hundreds of musicians, pastors, worship leaders, artists and dancers from the U.S. Canada and England gathered for the workshops, worship services and concerts offered at the celebration.

Much of the convocation was centered on honoring the past. The theme was “The Fellowship: Our Golden Future,” and many classic musicians were recognized for their works.

Austin Lovelace, chairman of the organizing committee for the first Fellowship meeting in 1955 received the Roger Deschner Award, which recognizes outstanding members of the fellowship and honors the late Roger Deschner, a cherished member and mentor, according to the United Methodist News Service.

Lovelace was introduced as “one of America’s most beloved church musicians.”

“His classic works have helped us be formed over decades,” said Elise Eslinger, chairman of the award committee.

He is known for writing more than 700 compositions, an is a minister of music emeritus at Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver.

Upon receiving the award, Lovelace said he hopes his “gift has been valuable to you.”

In addition to awards, the convocation featured 45 workshops taught by 27 musicians, artists, pastors and performers, covering such topics as worship planning, choral rehearsal techniques, visual arts, composing hymns, teaching new hymns to congregations, preaching in a multicultural world and computer software for musicians, according to UMNS.

“This event is about celebrating the past and taking that with us into the future,” said David Bone, executive director of the fellowship. “This has been a real watershed event. Everyone is saying the bar has been set.”