National Conference for Sacred Music

January 6-8, 2016

First United Methodist Church, Corpus Christi, Texas

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

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
  • Sponsorship 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: $35.00 (includes Wednesday dinner; Thursday and Friday lunch)
Registration will be available soon.


There are many hotels in the area, but we have reserved a block of rooms at the Emerald Beach Hotel, 1102 S. Shoreline Blvd., Corpus Christi, TX, 78401.

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.

From the Emerald Beach Hotel, you can easily walk across the street to First United Methodist Church at 900 S. Shoreline Blvd.

Schedule of Activities

Coming soon.

Susan 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, WA 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, 2009) and several liturgical and hymn texts. Susan lives in Spokane with her husband, Martin Wells. They have two grown daughters.

David 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 predecessor’s 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 / 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 CD’s, 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.

Rev. Jackson W. Henry is a United Methodist minister and musician who serves as Minister of Music and Worship at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  He is an ordained Deacon in the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he supports both local and conference-wide ministries.  Jackson is a graduate of the Master of Sacred Music program at Perkins School of Theology/Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, where he was a student of Dr. C. Michael Hawn and Dr. Kenneth Hart.  In high demand as a worship leader, guest lecturer, and choral clinician, Jackson has been featured in leadership for events across the United States and served as an editorial board member and contributor to the music and worship resource collection, Worship & Song, a joint project between the United Methodist Publishing House and Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

In addition to his role as a church musician, Jackson is a composer of hymn tunes, vocal and choral works, and instrumental compositions and is active as a performer and adjunct member of the keyboard faculty at Middle Tennessee State University.  Since coming to Murfreesboro and the Nashville area, he has collaborated and performed numerous recitals with performing artists from around the United States and abroad.

ERIC 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. 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 the ACDA, the Music Educator’s National Conference, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, the 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, 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.