National Conference for Sacred Music

January 6-8, 2016
Corpus Christi, TX

Leading the Church’s Song

Featuring David Cherwien, Eric Nelson, Susan Briehl, Heather Williams Potter, Jackson Henry and Ed Rollins

National Conference for Sacred Music is a unique conference designed to provide the practicing church musician with fresh new ideas to help create a vital, growing music ministry. The emphasis of this conference is to provide a wide variety of new approaches to revitalize and reinvigorate the church’s passion for music in worship. Sessions will include the following:

  • New worship planning ideas for your congregation and choirs
  • Choral technique classes with an emphasis on deepening the spiritual experience for the choir member
  • Reading sessions featuring new publications from Augsburg Fortress, Hinshaw, and MorningStar Music
  • Sponsored by three different denominational groups: the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts
  • Workshops for working with children
  • Handbells
  • Morning worship creatively crafted by Susan Briehl

Registration Fee: $150.00
Meal Plan (Wed dinner and Thu/Fri lunch): $35.00

Hotel Information for NCSM
There are many hotels in the area, but we have reserved a block of rooms at the Emerald Beach Hotel, 1102 S. Shoreline Boulevard. Corpus Christi, Texas 78401. From the Emerald Beach Hotel, you can easily walk across the street to First United Methodist Church at 900 South Shorline Blvd. Please call the hotel directly to reserve your room at 361-883-5731. Mention NCS to receive the conference rate of $89.00. The conference rate is good Tuesday through Friday. You must reserve by Tuesday, December 22, 2015, in order to receive the conference rate.

Register Now

Wednesday, January 6

2:00-3:00 pm Registration, Browse Exhibits (Lobby)
3:00-3:15 pm Welcome: Introduction and Announcements (Sanctuary)
3:15-4:30 pm Plenary: Susan Briehl
5:00-6:00 pm Dinner (part of meal plan)
6:15-7:15 pm Workshops
      1. Pressing on Towards the Goal (Eric Nelson)
      2. Preparations for Prayer for the Healing of the Nations (Susan Briehl)
7:30-8:00 pm Opening Worship: Prayer for the Healing of the Nations (Susan Briehl)
8:00 pm- Social Gathering / Exhibits

Thursday, January 7

9:00-9:30 am Welcome: Morning Worship (Susan Briehl, Santuary)
9:45-11:00 am Workshops
       1. Children (Heather Williams Potter)
       2. Organ Workshop: Abundant Colors (David Cherwien)
       3. Handbells Session 1 (Ed Rollins)
11:00-11:30 am Break
11:30-12:30 pm Reading Session 1: Multi-Publisher (David Cherwien)
12:30-1:30pm Lunch (part of the meal package)
1:45-2:55pm Workshops (Repeat of morning sessions)
       1. Children (Heather Williams Potter)
       2. Organ Workshop: Abundant Colors (David Cherwien)
       3. Handbells Session 2 not a repeat (Ed Rollins)
3:00-4:00 pm Reading Session 2: Multi-Publisher (Eric Nelson)
4:00-4:15 pm Break
4:15-5:30 pm Workshops
        1. Contemporary music for traditional musicians (Jackson Henry)
        2. Workshop: Prayer Around the Cross (Susan Briehl)
        3. Art in Worship
5:30-6:30 pm Workshop (Eric Nelson)
Free Night

Friday, January 8

9:00am-9:30 am Morning Worship (Susan Briehl)
9:40am-10:55 am Workshops
           1. Enhancing Worship through Art (Ed Rollins)
           2. Workshop: Prayer Around the Cross (Susan Briehl)
           3. Four Cats: Can They Help Us Sing? (David Cherwien)
10:55-11:15 am Break / Exhibits
11:30-12:30 pm Reading Session 3: Multi-Publisher (Jackson Henry)
12:30-2:00 pm Lunch (partof meal plan) / Exhibits
2:00 pm Exhibits Close
2:00 pm-3:00 pm Workshops
           1. Contemporary Music for Traditional Musicians (Jackson Henry)
           2. Children’s Music Repertoire (Heather Potter)
3:15-4:30 pm Workshops: Eric Nelson & David Cherwien
4:30-7:30 pm Dinner and free time on your own
7:30 pm Hymn Festival with David Cherwien, Eric Nelson, and Susan Briehl

Workshop Descriptions

Contemporary Music for Traditional Musicians / Jackson Henry
We will consider how to select and place value (musical and theological) on contemporary congregational songs, and we will discuss basic elements of what to do with these songs to bring out the unique creativity found in each local church.

Prayer for the Healing of the Nations / Susan Briehl
A candlelight liturgy of scripture, silence and simple songs.

Prayer Around the Cross: Unpacking the Liturgies / Susan Briehl
Discover the purpose, shape and essential elements of this meditative form of prayer akin to the practices of Taize, Iona, and Holden Village, a center for renewal in Washington State. Explore both musical and liturgical resources and imagine how to incorporate or create such liturgies in your setting.

Four Cats: Can They Help Us Sing? / David Cherwien
If those of us who choose the music for the congregation to sing each week think of the songs sung in liturgy in four categories, how does understanding each have practical implications for encouraging the congregation to sing?  These “cats” include The Ordinary, Hymnody, Psalmody, and Propers.  Careful, informed, and balanced choosing for each helps create vibrant,  meaningful,  perhaps eagerly anticipated singing,  and allows for growth – as in learning new things with less resistance!

Organ Workshop: Abundant Colors / David Cherwien
This workshop will feature new repertoire as well as issues pertaining to use of the organ in worship in ways which keep it interesting, vital,  and encouraging to the congregation.

Handbells Session 1 – Ed Rollins

A discussion of problems facing handbell ministries…personalities, pastors, boredom, changing worship patterns, schedules.  The intent is to find ways to move from problem to possibility!  Class participants will engage in sharing topics and developing strategies for change.  Times for ringing will also help us focus on the joy and possibilities.

Handbells Session 2 – Ed Rollins

Resources, ideas and other cool things that will work to inspire greater use of handbells in worship.  Ideas like accompanying scripture, accompanying band or choir, involving children and congregation, hymn accompaniment, and others.  A hands on class that’s challenges us to expand our handbell horizons.

Enhancing Worship through Art – Ed Rollins

Worship engages heart, body, mind, soul, and strength to move us into deeper relationship and understanding of our God.  By utilizing all of our senses, sight, touch, smell, hearing, etc. we develop new ways to engage our whole being.  Through Liturgical art, or “visual enhancements,” we create opportunities for art to be another aid in drawing us closer to God.  This class, though, will not necessarily talk about beautiful art hanging on the walls…this class will demonstrate ways in which art becomes part of the liturgy.

 Pressing On Towards the Goal – Eric Nelson

We all want our choirs to improve. What can make the biggest difference and give your rehearsals the most bang for your buck? Within the context of this workshop we will look at music for the Friday night hymn festival. We urge all singers to attend this as well as choir directors who want to gain some real nuts and bolts on how to work your choirs towards improving no matter their starting point.



Clinician Bios

Susan Briehl

Susan BriehlSusan Briehl is a Lutheran pastor rostered in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod (ELCA), called to serve the wider church and to work with the Valparaiso Project. She has served in team ministries as director of Holden Village, campus pastor at Pacific Lutheran University, and pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran in Bellingham, Washington, and has taught parish worship and preaching at Wartburg Seminary. Her publications include On Our Way: Christian Practices for Living a Whole Life, a book for emerging adults edited with Dorothy Bass (Upper Room, 2010), Holden Prayer Around the Cross, with Tom Witt (Augsburg Fortress, 2009), and several liturgical and hymn texts. Susan lives in Spokane with her husband, Martin Wells. They have two grown daughters.

 David Cherwien

DavidCherwien_150x150David Cherwien is well known throughout the country as church musician, conductor, organist, composer, and workshop/worship leader. He has a special passion for congregational song, and maintains a busy travel schedule presenting hymn festivals in many parts of the country each year. He is the third person to be called as Cantor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, a congregation known for its liturgical worship and love of hymnody (Mark Sedio and Paul Manz are Cherwien’s predecessors with the same title). In 2002 he was appointed Music Director for the National Lutheran Choir, a 60-voice professional choir also based in the Twin Cities.

Dr. Cherwien holds graduate and under graduate degrees in organ performance, theory and composition, and music education (choral) from the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College. He has also studied organ, composition, and conducting in Europe (at the Berlin Church Music School, and in Aix-en-Provence, France), and is a Fellow of Melodious Accord, studying with Alice Parker. Cherwien has over 100 published works for choir and organ with nine publishers, several recordings, and is author of Let the People Sing, a practical guide for creative congregational song leadership published by Concordia Publishing House. He is past president of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and in October 2000 was named distinguished alumni of Augsburg College, Minneapolis.

Jackson Henry


Rev. Jackson Henry currently serves as the Director of Music Ministries with Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He has served in leadership within a variety of settings, including small-membership churches, medium to large-membership churches, and campus music ministry. Jackson is an ordained deacon within the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church, where he is currently serving as co-chair of the Order of Deacons and as a delegate to the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

 A highly sought-after presenter and musical clinician, Jackson has enjoyed music and worship leadership at events with Discipleship Ministries, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Eagle Creek, Oregon), and The United Methodist Publishing House. He is a recognized composer, and his choral works have been published by Choristers Guild and Discipleship Ministries. His hymn tunes have been included in Worship & Song (a supplement to The United Methodist Hymnal) and made available in resources published by The General Board of Global Ministries.

In addition to his work at Discipleship Ministries, Jackson is a well-known collaborative pianist who has performed with artists from around the United States and Europe. In this medium, he has also composed sacred and secular instrumental works and vocal songs that he has performed at universities and churches in the United States, and even the Hospice du Grand St. Bernard, Switzerland.

Most importantly, Jackson enjoys his role as a spouse and father. He and his family reside in middle Tennessee.

Eric Nelson

Eric NelsonEric Nelson is the Artistic Director of the Atlanta Master Chorale, the Director of Choral Studies at Emory University, and the Minister of Music at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, Atlanta.

With training in voice and choral conducting from Houghton College, Westminster Choir College, and Indiana University, Dr. Nelson inspires choral artistry in singers of all ages, building excellent choral technique along with a passion for the unity of music and meaning. An exceptional teacher, he draws from a breadth of experience as both professional organist and vocal performer, finding myriad ways to help singers not only learn, but also celebrate the gift of singing—as he says—“shoulder to shoulder, voice to voice, one voice lost in another, each agreeing on something beyond themselves.”

Highly regarded as a clinician, adjudicator, lecturer, and guest conductor, Dr. Nelson has conducted throughout the nation and the world, including performances at Carnegie Hall in New York, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. His choirs have performed for the American Choral Directors Association seven times.

In 2014, he served as the Artistic Director for the Music and Worship Service for the American Choral Directors Association Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. He has presented workshops for ACDA, Music Educator’s National Conference, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Presbyterian Association of Musicians, American Guild of Organists, Chorister’s Guild, and for numerous churches, colleges, and universities.

Dr. Nelson is the past recipient of a “Crystal Apple” award for excellence in teaching at Emory University, and the “American Prize” in choral conducting. In 2013, his Atlanta Master Chorale received the “Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence” from Chorus America.

Eric is the editor of the Atlanta Master Chorale Choral Series, a division of MorningStar Music Publishers. His compositions are also published by Colla Voce and Augsburg Fortress.

Heather Williams Potter

HeatherWilliamPotterHeather Williams Potter, Artistic Director of the Charlotte Children’s Choir of Community School of the Arts, holds degrees in music education and choral conducting from Furman University, Arizona State University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Additionally, she has completed Level III in the Choral Music Experience certification course and holds Choristers Guild Children’s Choir Leadership certification. Dr. Potter has trained singers in the middle school, high school, and college classroom, and she has taught music education methods courses for undergraduates.

In addition to her work with the Charlotte Children’s Choir, Dr. Potter serves as the Director of Music with primary responsibility for children at First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina. In this role, she works weekly with kindergarten through fifth grade children. As an active clinician, Dr. Potter frequently conducts treble ensembles for music conferences, festivals, and honor choirs. She is often invited by churches and organizations to provide training for children’s choir directors and volunteers. Dr. Potter is President of the Choristers Guild National Board and serves on the advisory board for the Choristers Guild Institute. She has served ACDA as the North Carolina and the Southern Division R&S Chair for Children and Youth Community Choirs. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Kenney, and their children Syl and Calvin.

Ed Rollins

CARR-ROLLINS-ED-150c150Ed Rollins is Associate Pastor for Music and Administration at First Baptist Church of Columbia, Missouri, where he has served for over 27 years. In this capacity, he has promoted numerous ecumenical musical collaborations, has assisted in the development of the Odyssey Chamber Music Series, and within the last five years, has worked to develop ideas for enhancing worship through the visual arts.

 Active in the handbell world, Ed is co-founder and current director of the nationally recognized Columbia Handbell Ensemble, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary season. He is now serving as President of the Board of Directors of the Handbell Musicians of America. Ed has acted as clinician, coordinator, and conductor of handbell events in over 20 states. In has spare time, he is a member of the Columbia Multisport Club, and is a seven time national club triathlon champion. Married to Deb Carr, Ed is the father of two children who are married and living in St. Louis, Missouri, and Clovis, New Mexico.