BiFrost Arts Conference – Reviews and Reflections

I spent three days this week in St. Louis at the first – and what looks to be annual – BiFrost Arts Conference entitled “Liturgy, Music, and Space”.  The conference was hosted by Memorial Presbyterian (PCA) a beautiful faux-gothic church right on Forest park near U-City.

A grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship was the impetus for the conference but it was sponsored by BiFrost Arts, Trinity Presbyterian, Covenant Seminary and the New City Communion.

The conference was a true foretaste of shalom – inviting our whole mind, body, and heart to take up the actions of worship – for God and for the best God intends for the world.  We were treated to enduringly thoughtful presentations on music, space and liturgy

PDF – Schedule and Presenters
PDF – Order of Worship

Zac Hicks has posted with video and lots of other links from the Conference.

Memorial Presbyterian - St. Louis

DAY ONE – Tuesday, March 29th

Evening Worship with Bryan Chapell Preaching from Isaiah 6:1-8
(look through the pdf above to see text and songs for all of the services)

DAY TWO – Wednesday, March 30th

Morning Worship – Plenary #1 by Greg Thompson from Trinity Pres in C’ville.  Here is a synopsis from Zac Hicks. You can read his detailed notes HERE.  Greg has also recently edited a collection of articles with Dr. Wolterstorff titled Hearing the Call: Liturgy, Justice, Church, and World”. Amazon link


Liturgy actually shapes us in the “order of God’s love,” and our worship should reflect the twin reality of “participation” and “protest.”  Because liturgy is habit-forming, liturgy done rightly trains us to simultaneously participate in God’s love and plan and protest the ways our culture’s idols fight against our participation in the life of God.  Common liturgical elements (e.g. call to worship, confession, benediction) are not only important, but essential, to walking this road of participation and protest in worship.

Liturgy Workshops:

1. Isaac Wardell – Formative Practices of Worship – PDF
2. Mike Farley (Cov. Sem) – The Formative Role of the Body in Worship – PDF

Plenary #2: Nicholas Wolterstorf – “Does Your Church Building say What it Should Say?
Notes from Zac Hicks

Space Workshop – Elizabeth Steele Halstead – “Invisible Made Visible: Visible Arts and the Church.” Betsy coordinates the visual arts work of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Check out her work in “Visuals for Worship” whose images were featured in the Order of Worship & “Dwelling with Philippians

Communion Dinner – prepared and curated by Entre-Underground.  Watch the video to get an idea. Epic evening of ‘practicing’ embodied feasting.  Watch and then go read this.

Evening Concert presenting “The Welcome Wagon”

Vito Aiuto and his lovely wife Monique shepherd Resurrection Pres in Williamsburg, NY.  They also, in their spare time, write music under the moniker ‘The Welcome Wagon.”  Their music is whimsical, storied, and grounded in some deeply moving hymn texts. more HERE. Buy CD HERE. Liz Janes and Timbre both played lovely sets to open the evening.

DAY THREE – Thursday, March 31st

Morning Worship – Plenary #3 John Hodges and the “Telos of Music.”  Listen to some of his previous lectures here. His blog here. and a short video introducing his new Center for Western Studies here.

Plenary #4 – Isaac Wardell ‘Teaching Liturgy, Music & Space in the Local Congregation.’  See samples HERE. Isaac is the founder of BiFrost Arts and the Music Director at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Va.  Isaac, inspired by many of these authors, has written a brief guide to help congregations navigate the often treacherous waters relating to music, liturgy, and space in their own congregational context.

Workshop #1 – Matt Hinton – ‘Shape Note Singing-PDF.’ Matt Hinton; along with his wife Erica, directed the full-length documentary “Awake, My Soul: The Story of The Sacred Harp.” The Hintons are Sacred Harp singers from Atlanta, GA. Matt holds a Master’s degree in Theology from Emory University (Atlanta, GA) and teaches religion at Morehouse, a historically black college in Atlanta.

Workshop #2 – Kevin Twit – ‘Hymnody in Worship.’ Kevin Twit is the founder of Indelible Grace and the Reformed University Fellowship pastor at Belmont University. Check out the recent documentary on Kevin’s work with Indelible Grace.

And somehow in the midst of all of that there was still time for fellowship, conversation, and fostering an appreciation for the local imbibing.

Website header and poster image courtesy of HammerPress.

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