Pastor Joy Bonnema is the Campus pastor of Madison Church: North Campus – a four-year-old multiethnic church plant on the NE side of Grand Rapids, MI. She has a PhD. in Immunology from Mayo Graduate School. She taught biology at Calvin College for 10 years before transitioning into full-time parish ministry. She was ordained as a Commissioned Pastor in the Christian Reformed Church in 2008.
Prior to planting the North Campus of Madison Church, Pastor Joy was the Pastor of Congregational Life at the Square Campus of Madison Church. She is a highly-requested speaker and teacher speaking on topics including multi-ethnic ministry, leadership development, science and faith, Christian formation, and growing in life in the Holy Spirit. As my pastor, I am very happy to share this recent sermon from Madison North, entitled “Being the Church In Such A Time as This.” This message was partially inspired by, and an expansion on, the article by Pastor Reggie Smith shared in our last episode.
This episode of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcasts is an interview with my friend, Pastor Reggie Smith. Pastor Reggie is the Director of the Offices of Race Relations and Social Justice for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. He advises churches, and organizations, on cross-cultural and urban ministry. He has written extensively through devotionals, articles, book reviews, and web articles as a senior pastor over the past 20 years. He has spoken widely as a guest preacher, seminary professor, and workshop leader. He also serves as a program affiliate with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in the areas of faith, work, and worship; universal design for worship; urban ministry; and justice issues. I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Reggie in his office at the headquarters of the Christian Reformed Church of North America to talk with him about a recent article he published in the Grand Rapids Times entitled “Dear White West-Michigan People, ‘West Michigan Nice’ Is Not Working.”
This is a remix episode of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast of Jemar Tisby’s presentation “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Christian Complicity with Racism and the Imperative for Immediate Action,” given at 1 Charleston 2017 and orriginally shared on the Pass the Mic Podcast on July 10th, 2017.
Jemar Tisby is a former school teacher and principal, and currently is a PhD student in History at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. While at RTS, Jemar was involved with the African American Leadership Initiative (AALI) at RTS Jackson. The AALI seeks to increase the number of African Americans at the seminary and prepare Christians of any race for African American, multi-ethnic, and urban ministry.
Jemar is perhaps best known as the president of the Reformed African American Network (RAAN). He writes and speaks about race, religion, and culture as president through RAAN as well as for many other prominent newspapers and magazines. He is also the co-host of the “Pass The Mic” podcast, put out by RAAN and Podastary Studios, which is where I first heard this message. Thank you to Jemar and “Pass the Mic” for giving us permission to share this message on the Antioch podcast.
Additional thanks goes out to Derek Winfield and Katt Tait, for the vocal tracks on this remix episode.
Eric Nykamp is the Director of Worship Design at Madison Church’s North Campus, the Director of the Antioch Worship Leadership Trainings for all of Madison Church’s campuses, and the producer of this podcast. He also is worship leader and speaker, giving talks on using visual art as a method of prayer, utilizing drum circles in worship, and worship leadership in multi-ethnic congregations. This talk, “Worshiping Whiteness, ” is a talk he recently gave as part of an ongoing worship leadership training to a majority-white congregation desiring to transition into a multi-ethnic church.
Many urban white churches realize that their congregation doesn’t reflect the diversity of the cities they reside in, and many of these churches desire to becomemulti-ethnic communities. However, moving from this desire to developing into an actual multi-ethnic community can be challenging, especially for churches with a track-record of being a “whites only” worship space in their city. Since most white people have little awareness of their white cultural norms, they mistakenly assume that what is normal for them is also the norm for all people … and are puzzled when their “outreach” or “welcome and enfolding” efforts fall flat with people of color. Due to this cultural blindspot, they are unable to recognize that some of their white cultural norms send the message that people of color with different norms of worship are not welcomed, unless the person of color is willing to assimilate.
Some majority-white churches realize that changing their worship norms will help them develop into the multi-ethnic space they desire to become … but find that they are stuck in making this happen. This talk, given at one such church, addresses how white Christians need to recognize and understand how white norms about worship may operate within their church. The presentation asks questions about what it would mean for white people to change their ways and give up power in order to become a multiethnic community. He concludes with a challenge to white Christians in multiethnic churches to love their brothers and sisters of color with Christ self-sacrificial love for the church, especially when it comes to issues of power and control in multiethnic churches.
Ekemini Uwan is a bold and insightful theologian, and perhaps now is best-known as one of the three co-hosts of the thought-provoking podcast “Truth’s Table”, which is highly recommended listening for every Antioch Podcast fan. It is a privilege to have been able to remix and share her talk “The Fall: How did we get here?”, a chapel talk which she gave in February of 2017 as a lament grounded in scripture on social injustice around the United States and the world at large. Since mutuality is a core foundation for multiethnic churches to worship well together, this timely lament informs the way we sensitively approach God as a community, interceding for our world in unity.
Ekemini received her Master of Divinity degree in 2016 from Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) in Philadelphia, PA. She is also the 2015 Greene Prize in Apologetics Award recipient. As one who is passionate about sound theology, Ekemini has a fierce commitment to biblical orthodoxy and its implications for issues pertaining to racial injustice, police brutality, and white supremacy.
Ekemini believes that theology can and does speak to the culture, social, and political issues of our present day. As a result, she often speaks, opines, and writes about the aforementioned for various online publications.
Her writings have been published in the Huffington Post Black Voices, Christianity Today, and The Reformed African American Network to name a few. Her insights have been quoted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mashable, and The Huffington Post Religion.
In her spare time, she enjoys discipling women, spending quality time with loved ones and working out. As a self-proclaimed part-time fashionista, she has a penchant for thrift shopping.
NOTE: The Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast team is planning on doing a full interview with Ekemini in an upcoming episode, but wanted to give you a taste of her cutting edge work and delivery style now to wet your appetite for this later interview.
Darrell Delaney, who asks to go by “Pastor Darrell”, is the Campus Pastor of Madison Church’s Square Campus. He has a deep love of learning, and holds degrees from many of the predominant colleges and seminaries in the Reformed tradition: Kuyper College, Calvin Seminary where he earned his Masters of Theology, and Western Theological Seminary where he earned his Masters of Divinity.
While at Calvin Seminary, Pastor Darrell wrote a research paper on the correlations between racial microaggressions / microtraumas and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among racial minorities in the USA. The idea of cultural forces being a source of trauma is one which peaked my curiosity, as on its face this proposition makes sense. Wanting to hear more, I reached out to Pastor Darrell, who graciously agreed to share his paper and do an interview with me on race and PTSD.
In this episode of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast, Eric and Attah are joined by fellow Madison Church staff member, Jermale Eddie, to discuss the article “A Negro’s Guide to Surviving a White Cookout” by Sharhonda Knott Dawson. At first glance, this article may seem farfetched from any discussion about worship or community life in the multi-ethnic church … but just wait! The cast discusses cross cultural aspects of both preparing and sharing barbecue, with insightful parallels to gathering at the table of worship in multi-ethnic communities. There are many mouthwatering metaphors in this episode, so don’t listen on an empty stomach! Many thanks to Daddy Pete’s Barbecue in Grand Rapids, for providing ribs and sides for us at the beginning of the episode.
Joella Ranaivoson is the Associate Chaplain of Upper Class Students at Calvin College, her alma mater. She is a native of Madagascar, but was raised in Papua New Guinea, the US, and Kenya. The world, its cultures, and the global church are among her loves. She completed her Master of Divinity at Calvin Seminary (she’s clearly fond of Calvin), and she lives in Grand Rapids. Joella is a Do Justice columnist, the official blog of the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice. A member of Madison Church’s Square Campus, she graciously came in to talk with us about her most recent piece for Do Justice entitled “Let’s Talk About Self-Care.”
They were offended by him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and in his own house.”
– Matthew 13:57, from the World English Bible
To many, Mark Charles speaks with the voice of a modern-day prophet, bringing the unvarnished word of God to the Christian churches throughout the United States of America. Speaking boldly, his difficult message of national repentance from racism, paired with God’s promise of grace, draws strong responses from those who hear him speak. This episode of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast is a recording of one of Mark’s most recent messages, given at Madison Church’s Ford Campus, in January 2017, shortly after President Trump took office – which he references in this sermon.
Mark Charles is a speaker, writer, and consultant who recently moved to Washington DC from the Navajo Reservation. The son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man, Mark seeks to understand the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the nation. He partners with numerous organizations to assist them in respectfully approaching, including, and working with native communities.
Mark serves as the Washington DC correspondent and regular columnist for Native News Online and is the author of the popular blog “Reflections from the Hogan.” Mark also serves on the board of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and consults with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW). He is a founding partner of a national conference for Native students called “Would Jesus Eat Frybread?”
Mark is also the founder and director of 5 Small Loaves, an organization that pursues racial conciliation through honest education, intentional conversation, and meaningful action. Under this organization, Mark has proposed the development of a Truth Commission to shed light into the injustices perpetrated against Native Americans.
Mark is currently writing a book about the Doctrine of Discovery along with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah. Mark is a friend of Madison Church, and frequently preaches or leads workshops with us, bringing his thought-provoking perspectives to our congregation’s ongoing discussions on being a multiethnic church body.
“Purge Me,” Urban Doxology
Nate Glasper is the highly-talented director of worship at Grace for the Nations Church and the director of the Gospel Choir at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. Nate also writes, records, and performs his own music in addition to attending Calvin Theological Seminary. As a sought-after choir director and worship leader, he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about how worship has been instrumental for him in building bridges across racial and cultural divides that separate many people from one another.
Rev. Ricardo Tavarez is a comissioned pastor through Madison Church and is currently the church planting pastor of En Vivo Church in the Burton Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids, MI. In this interview, Rev. Tavarez talks about his many bi-cultural childhood, planting a bilingual multiethnic church, and approaches to bilingual worship which En Vivo Church employs.
In this episode, Dr. John Lee returns to join the Antioch team around the table. to discuss the phrase “Institutional Reconciliation”. Our team invented the phrase “Institutional Reconciliation” to describe principals of governance and decision-making which stand in contrast to the often unexamined organizational processes which then keep Institutional Racism intact. If Socrates was right when he said “the unexamined life is not worth living”, by extension the unexamined multi-ethnic church may not be a place where people can live. Throughout the hour, the team delves into scriptural themes drawn from the prophets and the church in Antioch for ideas of how to model the Biblical, multi-ethnic “new communities” like the early churches of the New Testament. This round-table discussion is packed with humor and thoughtful discussion of what often are thorny issues that multi-ethnic churches in particular must skillfully learn to talk about.
The staff at Madison Church regularly share articles with each other about diversity and the church. These articles shape conversations about how the church is run and how decisions are made. One article that church staff have continued to talk about ran in the May 2016 issue of Christianity Today entitled “Can People of Color Really Make Themselves at Home?” by Kathy Tuan-Maclean.
The central premise of the article is that there is a difference between feeling like an invited guest, and being an owner, when it comes to having the power to impact change in an organization like a church. She uses the metaphor of being invited into a house, but not always sensing that she has the power to move the furniture, to explain what it feels like to be a racial minority in a multi-ethnic (but predominantly white) Christian organization. Like many multi-ethnic churches, Madison Church also continues to wrestle with examining what roles both scripture and our cultures play in how we make decisions, conduct worship services, and live life together as the body of Christ. These conversations often take place in the context of safe friendships where individuals can speak truthfully to one another. For this episode, the members of the Antioch cast gathered around the microphone to discuss this article as friends, and invite you to listen in.
Sam Salguero is a children’s worship leader at a small Spanish-speaking church in the West Michigan area. In this interview, she shares about the multi-ethnic worship culture of her Hispanic congregation, sharing about coritos, a genera of Latin worship music, which she describes as her congregation’s musical “sense of home.” Later, Sam describes how the Trump administration’s heightened focus on searching for and arresting illegal immigrants, is now affecting the children of her congregation and challenging their understanding of the sovereignty of God.
Joseph Kuilema and Christina Edmondson are scholars at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Joe is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Work, and Christina is the Dean for Intercultural Student Development at Calvin. In January 2017, Joe and Christina co-wrote an article entitled “Confronting White Privilege” for the Banner Magazine, the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. In this interview, Joe and Christina share the backstory out of which this article arose, as well as their own expertise on how Christians can confront white privilege and structural racism which exists within many multi-ethnic churches.
Scott Huebl and Linda Naranjo-Huebl have been leading worship together since their teenage years in the Jesus People movement of the 1970’s. They came to Grand Rapids from their home in Denver at the turn of the millennium, and have continued leading worship at Madison Church’s Square, Ford, and North campuses. As a couple, they are passionate about social justice and draw their song selections from a broad variety of musical homes while actively developing worship leaders on their teams from each Madison campus. Scott and Linda excel at weaving scripture into their worship sets, as well as tell great stories. Scott and Linda are my personal friends, and I hope you come to enjoy them as well through this interview.
Every church has its own story, and our story at Madison Church starts in 1915. We celebrated our centennial in 2015, and our present Senior Pastor, Pastor David Beelen (known as “Pastor Dave” to most in the church), has been leading this church for nearly one-third of Madison’s existence. Before leaving on sabbatical, I had an opportunity to interview him, asking him to tell the story of Madison: how it came about in the first place and how it developed the way it did to become the multiethnic church it is today. In this interview, Pastor Dave traces the development of worship practices over the decades at the church, telling pieces of his own story along the way.
The Antioch cast returns to talk about the unique challenges of leading a multi-ethnic congregation in the post-election season of 2016.
Any group of people are sure to have a few differences, but in multi-ethnic churches, these differences of opinions sometimes run along racial or ethnic lines. This is a unique challenge as a leader in a diverse congregation. We each vote our conscious, and only get to vote for one person. While holding our personal opinions (perhaps strongly), we as leaders are called to represent a church of all people, a large number of whom we are called to love, even though the systemic outcomes of these votes may make our lives very difficult… and yet, we are called to worship together. Hard stuff. But the church has never been about taking shortcuts or gathering only with people “like us.” Let’s talk about it.
Dr. John Lee is a professor of Psychology at Michigan State University, therapist, and frequent lecturer and consultant on matters of race, ethnicity and Christian faith. In the second-part of this two-part interview, Dr. Lee concludes his discussion of the historical development of race-theory in the United States, illuminating how the western church both shaped and was shaped by these ideas. In conclusion, he reflects on ways in which members of a post-racial church might worship together.
Dr. John Lee is a professor of Psychology at Michigan State University, therapist, and frequent lecturer and consultant on matters of race, ethnicity and Christian faith. In this two-part interview, Dr. Lee discusses the historical development of race-theory in the United States, illuminating how the western church both shaped and was shaped by these ideas. In conclusion, he reflects on ways in which members of a post-racial church might worship together.
Sandra Maria Van Opstal is the author of numerous books, including The New Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, which received Christianity Today’s 2017 Book of the Year Award of Merit for Church/Pastoral Leadership. She is a second-generation Latina, and the pastor at Grace and Peace Community in Chicago. Sandra is sought-after as a speaker, trainer and activist because of her passionate and incisive messages on Christianity and multi-ethnic worship. Sandra took time to do this interview about her life and her book at a coffee-shop amidst a busy week of trainings and consultations.
Recorded live at a group discussion for the Antioch Worship Leadership Trainings at Madison Church, Shelli Fynewever and Eric Nykamp talk about the notion of creating a culturally-hospitable worship environment. As a part of this panel discussion, Shelly and Eric introduce the work of the pastor and activist Sandra Maria Van Opstal and the humor of comedian (and YouTuber) Kev On Stage.
Members of the Antioch Podcast team gather around the microphones to share stories of their experiences leading worship outside of the worship tradition in which they were raised. This early episode of the podcast may exhibit some of the quirks of our early attempts at podcasting and not be of the quality that later episodes exhibit.
In this inaugural episode, the members of the Antioch team (Laura Pritchard, Attah Obande and Eric Nykamp) talk about the reason for making this podcast, as well as a bit of their personal backstories about how they each came to lead worship in the multi-ethnic congregations of Madison Church. This episode was recorded to help answer the frequently-asked questions about the podcast, summarized below:
The Antioch Podcast’s tagline is “Leading Worship Diversely Together”, which is a great way to summarize the topics our podcast covers. This is a podcast of conversations about:
Worship Leadership (e.g. worship leading skills, leadership development, theology of worship etc.)
The Unique Aspects of Worship Leadership in Ethnically-Diverse Congregations (e.g. non-expert stance, new standards of excellence, musical homes, inclusive decision-making power etc.)
Ethnic Diversity Within the Church (e.g. history of racism, histories and personal stories, building common origin-stories of the church)
Worshiping Together as One Diverse Body (e.g. discussions of current songs, music, art forms etc. which are relevant to ethnically-diverse congregations)
Congregational Unity Forged Through a Commitment to Biblical Justice (e.g. The core belief that if one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it.)
Who is on the podcast?
There are two kinds of podcast interviews that we create:
Cast Interviews. A circle of regular “cast members” composed of worship leaders from the Madison Church campuses regularly gather around the microphones to discuss topics related to worship leadership. You might want to think of these episodes as “One Topic: Many Speakers.”
Expert Interviews. We also record interviews with various writers, thinkers, theologians and worship leaders from both inside and outside of Madison Church whose thoughts, ideas, and wisdom has relevance with worship leaders in ethnically diverse congregations. You may think of these interviews as “One Speaker: Many Topics.”
Who is your target audience for the podcast?
There are two audiences we have in mind for every podcast. The primary audience is worship leaders at Madison Church. This podcast was initially created to help both novice and experienced worship leaders share their “best practices” for leading worship in the ethnically diverse congregations that make up Madison Church. The secondary audience, which is considerably larger, are other worship leaders outside of Madison Church who similarly want to grow in their skill and knowledge of how to lead worship well in their ethnically-diverse congregations as well.
Why have a podcast for worship leaders in ethnically diverse congregations? Isn’t worship leadership the same everywhere?
Every congregation certainly is unique, and knowing your congregation is an important part of tailoring worship designs to help each congregation uniquely experience and understand God more fully. However, many mono-ethnic congregations have shared understandings about what “excellence” is because of their shared cultural values. In multi-ethnic congregations, there are not as many shared cultural norms around appropriate use of time, volume of music, style of music, language of worship, ways of making decisions, interaction styles with authority figures, conflict resolution, what “following the Holy Spirit” means, uses of prayer, disclosure of personal information, and history of interactions with dominant ethnic groups … among others. Because there is not a common standard of excellence, worship leaders in diverse church settings need to develop skill sets that goes beyond what any worship leadership conference or training does when it comes from a mono-ethnic viewpoint. Most of the materials available on worship do so from a white-normative viewpoint, which is not generally applicable in a multi-ethnic setting.