The Certificate in Worship Leadership at Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary is an eight-month course of study–September 25, 2017 through May 20, 2018–designed to engage learners in a historical, theological, and practical exploration of the convergence of worship and justice.
Under the direction of internationally known musician and worship director, Dr. Tony McNeill, the program is open to church musicians, clergy, lay leaders, performing and visual artists, seminarians, and justice-seekers of all backgrounds and levels of experience 21-years-old and older. No prior seminary training is required. Payment for the program is based on a sliding scale according to the size of the participant’s congregation.
The program aims to
- equip learners to think about the theological and practical implications of their worship practices.
- explore congregational worship as a catalyst for empowering communities to live justly.
- recover the cultural and spiritual value of lament
- discuss the role of hymnody and survey mainline hymnals, particularly those rooted in the African-American tradition.
- explore the use of various liturgical art forms to inspire just-behavior.
- examine the cross section of secular culture and congregational life.
The program is organized into four distinct online modules: (1) Thinking Theologically–Reflections on Worship and Justice; (2) Leading Intentionally–Congregational Engagement and Ethical Leadership; (3) Planning Effectively–Christ, Calendar, and Culture; (4) Being the Beloved Community–the Witness of Justice in the Sacraments. Learners are required to take a mandatory two-day online orientation at the beginning of the program. Opportunities for face-to-face gatherings will be offered periodically but are not mandatory.
Learning partners (faculty) for the program are:
- Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, Professor of Ethnomusicology at Indiana University
- Rev. Dr. Kimberly Bracken Long, Retired Associate Professor of Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA
- Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Faith Work Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force
- Rev. Don Darius Butler, Pastor of Tabernacle Community Baptist Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- Prof. Eric Wall, Dean of the Chapel at Austin Presbyterian Seminary, Austin, TX
- Dr. Tony Leach, Professor of Music Education at Penn State University
- Dr. Leo Davis, the Minister of Music at Mississippi Boulevard Church in Memphis, TN.
- Prof. Paul Vasile, a freelance church musician, consultant, and composer based in New York City
- Dr. Thomas Dixon Tyler, Minister of Worship, Evangelism and Discipleship at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington DC
The Certificate in Worship Leadership is the flagship program of JCSTS’ Institute of Worship, Preaching, and Sacred Arts which offers premier learning opportunities where clergy, liturgists, musicians, scholars, and lay people can explore the intersectionality of faith and justice through the historic lens of the African-American religious experience.