Our Help, Our Hope


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Plenary Descriptions

Connecting with Creativity and Hope (Even in the Midst of Pandemic and Pandemonium)

Thursday Plenary - Mary Scifres

How do we design worship creatively when everything has changed? How do we find hope when worries and fears dog our steps? How do we envision a future when the present is so foggy? Plenary speaker Mary Scifres will offer insights and ideas to help us re-connect with our creativity and energize our worship, even when facing the challenges of technology, physical distancing, and declining participation numbers. Join us for an energizing, interactive plenary session to kick off Our Help, Our Hope. Bring your questions and concerns, your experiences and wisdom, and your eyes and minds wide open as we discern together, facilitated by Mary, ways to again connect with our creativity and God’s hope.

Addressing Societal Challenges Through Music

Friday Plenary - Jason Max Ferdinand

Description to come.


Seminar Descriptions

Children’s Music in the Times of Covid-19

Thursday Seminar - Debra Tyree

This workshop will be a blend of sharing of information from the leader and sharing of ideas from the attendees as we lean into this season of music with children. Key topics the session will touch on are: 

  • What are the discernment questions to consider as you develop a church music ministry with children in the days of Covid-19 for the 20-21 program year?
  • Tips and tools for leading music with children in person and or/virtually.
  • Let the children lead – how do children’s choirs lead in worship this year?

Dance Seminar

Thursday Seminar - Sheila M. Beckford and Leslie Duroseau

This dance seminar will teach those who are wanting to share liturgical/praise dance in these times of Covid. We will teach how to create a prop and choreographed movement while social distancing.

Organ & Piano: The Perfect Pandemic Instruments

Thursday Seminar - Frode Gundersen and Scott Montgomery

2020 has been a challenging year for church musicians. So much has changed due to the simple fact that we cannot currently be together and “do church” the way we’ve always done. Which has made all of us ask, “So now what?!” We’ve had to quickly learn how to provide our congregations with virtual worship experiences minus our choirs and ensembles, and somehow still provide a meaningful worship experience.

The saving grace to all of these limitations, however, is the steadfastness of our own sanctuary organ and/or piano! These instruments only take one person to play, and when used together, the possibilities are endless! Frode and Scott will share how they have relied on their organ and piano to lead the way for their music ministry at Central UMC in Fayetteville, AR. They will discuss repertoire ideas for piano, organ, and organ-piano. And they will share how they have been reaching out to their 4,500-member congregation through the music they provide for their virtual worship services, concerts, and Melodious Monday segments.

Reimagining Music in Worship in a New Way

Friday Seminar - Ariel Merivil

What are our core themes and values for worship and how can we continue to foster meaningful music in worship through digital channels while in quarantine and without our choirs? Join Ariel as we explore creative strategies to meet the new challenges of worship music using smaller ensembles and soloists.

No-Panic Pandemic Handbell Repertoire

Friday Seminar - Sondra Tucker

Now is the perfect time to bring your handbell ensemble to center stage! Sondra will lead participants in an exploration of available repertoire for safe, distanced-style ringing. From solos and ensembles to full-choir pieces, this resource-laden class will give you the tools you need to get back to ringing.

For Everything a Season

Friday Seminar - Diana Sanchez-Bushong and Derek Weber

This seminar will be a discussion on how worship has evolved in the last several months since the pandemic forced churches to go online, what we’ve learned about what it means to participate in worship, and what are worship essentials. We will share what we’ve heard about how worship leaders have responded creatively and will lift up some of the best practices evidenced in online worship. We will also talk about where we go from here. What will worship services look like post-Covid-19? What might be a new normal?


Evening Events

Congregational Songs of Protest & Praise

Thursday Evening Event - Mark Miller

Exploring music Mark and others have written that are able to connect love of God and love of neighbor in powerful and intriguing ways.

Pipe In!

Friday Evening Event - Aaron Shows

This is not your typical pipe organ music! It'll be organ music, yes, but like you've never heard it before! Organist and composer Aaron Shows is known for his improvisations in an eclectic style, taking those pipes through a variety of genres unlike what we're all used to on Sunday mornings in worship! You may hear songs from '60s Motown, '70s singer-songwriters, '80s New Wave, or even your favorite Disney classics from the '90s. Bring some tune ideas and "request" them in the comments – you may just get to hear your favorite song played in a new way on the pipe organ. Join Aaron "virtually" from First United Methodist Church in Pasadena, CA, where you can kick back, pour yourself a cool "Quarantini" (or other 2020-themed beverage of your choice!), and enjoy some of your favorite songs from decades past in a unique way on the pipe organ: all improvised, fully interactive, and in real time!



Plenary Speakers

Mary ScifresAn expert in organizational development, church growth and worship, Rev. Mary Scifres (Thursday Plenary) has served as a church consultant and leadership coach for more than two decades, alongside her roles as a United Methodist pastor and author for Abingdon Press. Mary guides churches, leaders, and businesses to reclaim their purpose and refocus their mission, unifying and energizing their work in the process. As a turnaround specialist, Mary diagnoses systemic troubles that arise from change, growth, leadership conflict, and intergenerational differences that can disrupt unity and effectiveness. Working with teams to achieve conflict competence, unified sense of purpose, and clarity of direction, Mary rejoices when her clients begin moving forward together with renewed energy and enthusiasm. After her Bachelor’s degree in Music and Philosophy from the University of Indianapolis and before her post-graduate certificate in Organizational Development and Leadership at Southern Methodist University, Mary earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Sacred Music from Boston University, supported by The Fellowship’s Thom Jones scholarship. Mary has been an active Fellowship member since that time, beginning with the New England chapter, then the Michigan chapter, Convocation design teams, and eventually national council. She and Executive Director David Bone have been frequent event and workshop leaders and are familiar to many as co-authors of The United Methodist Music and Worship Planner and its ecumenical companion, Prepare! Mary writes extensively in areas of church growth, worship creativity, and spiritual transformation. Visit Mary’s website (maryscifres.com) for a full list of Mary’s worship resource books and online resource materials. She is most recently the author of The Gospel According to Beauty & the Beast: A Story of Transformation and co-author with her spouse, B. J. Beu, of Worship at Home Advent 2020.

Jason Max FerdinandJason Max Ferdinand (Friday Plenary) is the director of choral activities, professor, and chair of the music department at Oakwood University. He directs the Aeolians of Oakwood University and, as evidenced by noteworthy awards, has distinguished himself on the national and international choral stages. In 2017, he earned the Outstanding Director and Choir of the World awards at the Llangollen International Musical Festival in Wales. In 2018, his choir won three gold medals at the 10th World Choir Games held in South Africa, and also won the competition’s overall championship in both the Spirituals and University Choir categories. He is a published composer with GIA Publications, and is exhilarated about his new choral series with Walton Music. In 2018, he was named “Teacher of the Year” by Oakwood University. The Aeolians made their first appearance at the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in 2019 and the term “they broke ACDA” was used to describe their outstanding presentation. Teaching With Heart is a new book released by Ferdinand and is a useful choral compendium for all choral directors. Ferdinand holds non-terminal degrees from Oakwood University, Morgan State University, and a doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Maryland.

Evening Event Leadership

Mark MillerMark Miller (Thursday Evening) believes that everyone is a Child of God and that music can help heal the world. He also adheres to Cornel West’s belief that “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Mark is Associate Professor of Church Music, Director of Chapel, and Composer In Residence at Drew University in Madison, NJ, and is a Lecturer in Sacred Music at Yale University. He is also the Minister of Music of Christ Church (UCC) in Summit, NJ. A renowned composer of sacred music, Mark’s hymns and anthems are sung by communities of faith throughout the country and are published by Choristers Guild, Hinshaw, Hal Leonard, Abingdon Press, Santa Barbara Music Publishing and others. His album, “Imagine the People of God,” is available on iTunes. Miller spends a portion of the year traveling the country, often with his band "Subject to Change," lecturing, preaching and presenting concerts focused on creating community and advocating for social justice. Over the past three years he has visited 100 venues in more than 20 states. Overseas, he has led choirs and performed in Sweden, South Africa, Austria, Russia, and the Baltic states. Mark is a lifelong United Methodist. He is the grandson, son, brother, uncle, and cousin to United Methodist clergy and was a lay delegate to the 2000 and 2004, 2012 General Conferences. He was Director of Music for the 2008 General Conference and is a member of Covenant UMC in Plainfield, NJ. Mark resides in Plainfield with his husband, Michael Murden. They have two children, Alyse and Keith.

Aaron ShowsAaron Shows (Friday Evening) is a Los Angeles-based composer, organist, and pianist originally from Montgomery, AL. With a musical background spanning 25 years, his influences draw from many centuries and styles, from the traditional Baroque era through contemporary genres such as jazz, folk/bluegrass, rock, and also with a particular interest in the evolving forms of film and television music. His original compositions are often performed and well-received across the United States and Europe, and he continues to compose for mediums including film/TV, concert music, and sacred settings. His solo organ compositions are published by Augsburg Fortress Publishers, based in Minneapolis, MN. As an organist, his performances often bridge the traditional and modern, and since 2016, he has served as organist at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena. He is also an active accompanist for local middle and high school choral programs, and serves as an adjunct faculty member at Glendale Community College, both as an accompanist and as an organ instructor. Additionally, his organ playing can be heard in Hollywood films, most recently in The Addams Family (MGM, 2019). Aaron holds an MFA in Film Music Composition from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (Winston-Salem, NC), and a BFA in Church Music from Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA). For more information, and to catch his twice-weekly organ and piano broadcasts, follow Aaron on Facebook (facebook.com/ShowsMusic) and Instagram (@AaronShowsMusic). To hear recordings of his music, visit soundcloud.com/aaronshows.


Morning Prayer Leadership

DeAndre JohnsonRev. R. DeAndre Johnson (Prayer Leader), an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, is the pastor of music and worship life at Christ Church Sugar Land in Sugar Land, TX. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in Sacred Music at Centenary College of Louisiana and earned a Master of Sacred Music from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He was the worship leader for the GBHEM Exploration events in Denver (2013) and Portland (2017), a vocational discernment event for college students. In 2016, he served as the music coordinator for both the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Portland, OR, and the World Methodist Conference in Houston, TX. In addition to these, DeAndre has been the chorus master and a frequent guest conductor of the Houston Ebony Opera Guild, a community chorus committed to the preservation and performance of classical music of the African diaspora. He has also served on the editorial committee for WorshipArts magazine and was the worship coordinator for The Fellowship’s Music & Worship Arts Week 2019 at Lake Junaluska. Through his work in churches of various sizes, demographics and worship styles, DeAndre has developed a passion for enlivening congregational song and exploring the ways in which worship becomes a catalyst for true reconciliation.

Jay RegennitterRev. Jay Regennitter (Prayer Leader) serves as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Robinson, IL, where he has been appointed since 2014.  A graduate of Duke Divinity School (M.Div.) and Western Illinois University (B.A. choral music education, M.A. organ performance), he is currently completing the Doctor of Ministry degree from Christian Theological Seminary. A specialist in liturgics and homiletics, his current research focuses on the impact of the order and content of worship on spiritual formation. In addition to his pastoral ministry, he serves as an adjunct instructor in music and liturgics at Lincoln Trail College and Christian Theological Seminary.

Leigh Anne TaylorRev. Leigh Anne Taylor (Prayer Leader), current president of The Fellowship, serves as the Revitalization Coordinator of the Lynchburg District in Virginia.  A deacon, Leigh Anne has been in music ministry for 30 years and currently enjoys attending worship at all of the 86 churches of the Lynchburg District from week to week. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Hugh, and enjoys yoga, playing outside, riding with the top down in the convertible, studying the Enneagram, and eating chocolate.


Seminar Leadership

Debra TyreeRev. Debra (Debi) Tyree (Seminar Leader - Children) is an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church. She serves as Minister of Worship and Mission at Bellevue United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN. Previous ministry settings include serving with the Global Praise program of the General Board of Global Ministries, the United Methodist Publishing House as Music Resources Development Editor, and Minister of Music and Worship Arts Ministries at Shady Grove United Methodist Church in Mechanicsville, VA. Debi is nationally known as a workshop and choral clinician who engages participants in creative ways to discover how they can improve their ministry of church music. 

Sheila BeckfordRev. Sheila M. Beckford (Seminar Leader - Dance) is the Senior Pastor of Wethersfield UMC, Wethersfield, CT. She is an ordained elder of the New York Annual Conference, an author, and Co-Founder of 4REALS Anti-Racist Anti-Racism Training and Consulting, LLC. Rev. Beckford chairs the Black Methodist for Church Renewal NYAC-Chapter and co-chairs the NYAC Commission of Religion and Race and serves on the worship team for the NYAC as the Dance Coordinator. She is a talented dancer who uses her gift of dance as a powerful instrument to minister to God's people. Her passion is justice, worship, dance and youth, and children. She believes, "How one treats worship, God's children, and God's creation, on the whole, is indicative of how one treats God." Rev. Beckford loves God and uses every God-given instrument to display this love.

Leslie DuroseauRev. Dr. Leslie Duroseau (Seminar Leader - Dance) is an ordained elder of The United Methodist Church and has served as the pastor of Hamptons United Methodist Church located in Southampton, NY, for 10 years. She is the first African American to serve as the pastor of this congregation. She is a sacred arts minister of dance, with over 25 years of experience as a liturgical dance director. She is a certified Holistic Health Counselor, graduating from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as a certified drugless practitioner. She is also a certified Yoga instructor. Rev. Duroseau received her Doctorate of Ministry degree (D.Min) in May 2012, and her Masters of Divinity degree (M.Div) from the prestigious New York Theological Seminary in 2008.  Rev. Dr. Duroseau is a certified chaplain and pastoral care counselor, certified by the College of Pastoral Care and Psychotherapy (CPSP). She has taught at New York Theological Seminary Certificate Program as an Adjunct Professor. Dr. Duroseau has facilitated and participated in retreats, conferences and workshops throughout the NY area and abroad teaching sacred dance and holistic health as a methodology to fully live out what it means and what it takes to be a follower of Christ.  She considers herself a Woman of Wisdom, a spiritual leader and guide, and a truth-teller, seeker and healer who is involved with community activism. Most importantly, she would have all to know she loves the Lord, serves God with her whole heart, and her desire is to share the joy, compassion, and love of the Lord with everyone she encounters. She is married to Mr. Eddy Duroseau, and they have five gorgeous children: Jasmine, Andre (Candice), Jah-le, and Jadah and three beautiful granddaughters Aiyanna, Alyssa and Ailani.

Frode GundersenFrode Gundersen (Seminar Leader - Piano/Organ) is Director of Music & Fine Arts at Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, AR. Before moving to Northwest Arkansas in 2015, Dr. Gundersen served in full-time Music Director positions at Marvin United Methodist Church in Tyler, TX; Bartlett United Methodist Church in Memphis, TN; and Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano Performance from North Dakota State University in Fargo; two Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting and Sacred Music from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX; and a Doctor of Sacred Music degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, IN. Working professionally in Texas for 15 years, Dr. Gundersen has conducted the Texas Vocal Arts Ensemble, the East Texas Symphony Chorus, the Tyler Chamber Chorale, and served as Chair of Music and Worship for the United Methodist Church Texas Conference, and appeared as guest conductor and clinician for numerous schools and musical organizations. Dr. Gundersen’s choirs have also given concerts internationally, which has included singing for the International Church Music Festivals in Bern, Switzerland and Coventry, England, and for High Mass at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. As a pianist, Dr. Gundersen has performed solo recitals and has collaborated with other professional artists for decades. In August 2019, Frode’s solo piano album was released, entitled “From the Heart: Sacred Songs & Melodies.” One of Dr. Gundersen’s current collaborations is with renowned Metropolitan baritone, Keith Harris. Together they perform concerts across the country and have released an album, “Keep on Climbing.” Another collaboration is as one half of Orgiano Duo, a professional organ/piano duo, along with concert organist Scott Montgomery. Orgiano Duo performed internationally in 2018 and 2019, and concertizes regularly within the United States.

Scott MontgomeryScott Montgomery (Seminar Leader - Piano/Organ) is the Associate Director of Music and Organist for Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, AR, a private instructor of piano and organ, and a widely respected concert organist. Mr. Montgomery became nationally recognized in 2006 by winning both the Lilian Murtagh Memorial Award (first prize) and the Audience Prize of the prestigious American Guild of Organists' National Young Artist Competition in Organ Playing (NYACOP), the first person to win both prizes in the history of the competition. Scott has been a prize winner in several other notable competitions including first prize in the American Guild of Organists' Region V Competition in Evansville, IN (1997), second-prize in the Arthur Poister National Organ Competition in Syracuse, NY (2002), and was also the first recipient of the M. Louise Miller Scholarship (2002) sponsored by the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Scott is a member of the Concert Artist Cooperative, a roster of national and international concert artists. He is widely active as a concert organist throughout the country and abroad.  Notable performance venues have included Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (Philadelphia, PA), Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA), Ball State University (Muncie, IN), and Heinz Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA).  He has performed for both regional and national conventions for the American Guild of Organists (AGO), the Organ Historical Society (OHS), National Pastoral Musician Conferences (NPM), and for Pipe Organ Encounters (POE) in the Midwest for both youth and adults. His performances have been broadcast on nationally syndicated radio programs "Pipedreams" and "With Heart and Voice." Mr. Montgomery has produced three critically acclaimed compact disc recordings. "Water and Light," released in 2008 by the Pro Organo label, features the tonally resourceful Mander Organ at Peachtree United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA. His second CD, "Inspirations From England," released in 2009 by the Regent Record label, featuring the two Mander Organs at St Peter’s Episcopal Church in St Louis, MO.  Most recently, Scott released his third CD, "Organo Plano: Music for a Joyous Occasion," on the Raven label, showcasing the large Reuter Organ at Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, TX. He received his formal training at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in organ performance studying with Dr. Dana Robinson.

Sondra TuckerSondra K. Tucker (Seminar Leader - Handbells) is a well-known composer for handbells, choir, organ, and flute ensemble. Since 2013 Sondra has served as Handbell Editor for Alfred Handbell. She is in demand as a conductor and clinician, and has led denominational seminars for PCUSA, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the United Methodist Church, ELCA, and the Southern Baptist Church, and has served on the faculty of numerous Handbell Musicians of America local, area, and national events. Her compositions are published by most major church music publishing houses. Her music degrees are from the University of Arkansas and the University of Memphis. Additionally, Sondra self-publishes flute ensemble music under her own QuickSilver Publications imprint and handbell titles under her Casa Publications. Away from music, Sondra is an avid knitter and motorcycle rider. She is married, with two children and three granddaughters.

Ariel MerivilAriel Merivil (Seminar Leader - Vocal) is the Associate Minister of Music to First-Plymouth Church in Lincoln, NE, a position he began in 2017 following over 10 years of music ministry in Atlanta, GA. A passionate and gifted musician, Ariel feels particularly called to lead congregations in diverse and meaningful expressions of music in worship that allow others to powerfully experience the divine presence of God.



Diana Sanchez-BushongDiana Sanchez-Bushong (Seminar Leader - Worship) is the Director of Music Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, an agency of the United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN.  She grew up in San Antonio, TX, where she attended Browning United Methodist Church and began singing at the age of 5. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master’s Degree in Music in Choral Conducting from Southern Methodist University, a Master’s of Sacred Music Degree from Perkins School of Theology at SMU and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked in numerous churches as well as the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship in Nashville where she worked with the Hymnal Revision Committee that developed The United Methodist Hymnal (1989). In addition, she worked with the committees that developed The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), and Mil Voces para Celebrar, an official UM hymnal for Spanish speaking churches.  She was the Volume Editor of The Hymns of the United Methodist Hymnal (Abingdon,1989), and the author of Your Ministry of Planning and Leading Hymn Festivals (Discipleship Resources, 1990).  She has written extensively in the area of music in worship and hymnody including an article in the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology entitled “Latin American Hymnody, USA”.  Dr. Sanchez-Bushong also teaches the course “Cultos de Adoracíon y los Sacramentos” at the Course of Study School for pastors each summer at Perkins School of Theology. She is an adjunct professor at the College of Theology and Christian Ministry at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Presently, she is working with the committee developing The United Methodist Worship Resource Collection, an unofficial song and worship resource collection for use in the United Methodist Church.  

Derek WeberBorn and raised in Indiana, the Rev. Dr. Derek C. Weber (Seminar Leader - Worship) has a BA in Speech and Theatre, a Master’s of Theology, (MTh), and a Ph.D. in preaching and communication from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. An ordained United Methodist Elder, Derek has served churches, from small to large, in Indiana, Arkansas, and the UK. As of July 1, 2019, Derek was named Director of Preaching Ministries with Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN. Derek is married to La Donna Riddle Weber and they are parents to their now-adult children, Rhys Edmund Myung-hoon Weber and Madeleine Marie Min-hee Weber.