Message from Vic Casad: June 15, 2018
Notes from the Heartland
I know I speak for many Annual Conference attendees that the highlights of every Conference session are the evening worship services. And this year proved it again. The music at both evening services was transcendent, coming pretty close – in my human imagination – to what the heavenly host will sound like.
On Sunday night, the combined choirs of First UMC Dallas and St. Luke “Community” UMC under the leadership of Dana Effler and Monya Logan, along with the Variations Youth Choir of First UMC Dallas, were outstanding.
During the Ordination Service on Monday night, I had a special seat. Being a District Superintendent, I get to process into the service along with my fellow DSes, the Center Directors, all the ordinands and commissionees, their family and sponsors, members of the Conference Board of Ministry, the retirees and any active or retired Bishop who may be in the building at the time. I’ve never officially measured the processional line, but it’s at least a quarter block.
And once the DSes arrive at our places on the chancel, our main job is to stay inconspicuous and blend in with the furniture. We have never been told this, but the unwritten rule is never … never draw attention to yourself.
So, I was a little taken aback on Tuesday morning when several people observed that they were watching me enjoying the music of Highland Park UMC choir. Someone commented on my foot tapping, and someone else mentioned my happy face. Several people mentioned something like, “You were really into that music last night, weren’t you?”
And the truth is, yes I was. When Chrystie Hicks started belting out “Certn’ly Lawd” right behind me, I was startled and had to look back. I saw the choir without their music folders singing out with all their being. My eyes were drawn to the woman right in front of the conductor, Alan Raines. She looked to be one of the much older members of the choir; her stature was petite, and her grey hair was pulled back in a granny bun. And she was lost in ecstasy. She was dancing in place, animating every word of that song in full voice and syncopated body moves. Her joy was contagious, and I was infected with bliss.
When the ordination of the elders concluded, the choir sang a final anthem, “Bound for the Promised Land.” This time, I was bewildered by the unusual sounds coming out of the piano behind me. So, I turned around and there were two people at the keyboard … and four hands were playing the piano. Katie Minion and Scott Ayers were in their own musical Eden pounding out the ragtime-banjo-popping measures of that classic American folk spiritual.
I remember Adam Hamilton saying in his talk something about worship should be planned with the expectation that God will be present and something profound will happen. A profound gift was given to me at Annual Conference through the music ministry of all these choirs, and I am very grateful.
In His Service and Yours,
Published: Friday, June 15, 2018