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Exploring Contemporary and Alternative Worship


The Rev. Nelson Cowan, PhD
[email protected]

Mission Statement

The members of and visitors to this seminar track developments in “contemporary” worship (seeker services, praise-and-worship services, convergence worship, and “traditional” services that “blend” in elements from these other kinds of services). We research particular faith communities’ worship, as well as the general trends in worship and music styles, liturgical art, architecture, and seminary education for those preparing to become worship leaders in these worship settings, Protestant and Catholic.

2019 Seminar Agenda

Friday, January 4th
Contemporary Worship – Explicit & Implicit Theologies
Emily Snider Andrews, “The Sacramentality of Modern Worship Music at Bethel Church, Redding, California.”

David Lemley, "Contemporary Worship Music (CWM) as Functional Sacrament: Observations about Affect and Ordo."

Nelson Cowan, “Mrs. Murphy is Wearing Skinny Jeans: Liturgical-Theological Reflections from Hillsong, New York City.”

[1.5hrs - Lunch on your own]

Midday Prayer

Glenn Packiam, “Encoded Hope in Contemporary Worship in North America.”

[1hr - Break]

Historical Explorations

Eric Mathis & Christian DaPonte, “A Working History of Teenage Youth Worship Practices in the United States.”


Billy Kangas, “The Word of God Community: A Primordial Soup for Contemporary Catholic Worship”

Saturday, January 5th
Alternative Worship Practices
Casey Sigmon, “Can I Take Your Ordo? Reflections on Dinner Church Liturgies.”

Ron Rienstra et. al., “Beer & Hymns: Reports from the Field.”

[Plenary Address, Lunch]


More Beer & Hymns Reports (if needed)
Exploring Contemporary & Alternative Worship Seminar Evaluation / Business Meeting                      

2018 Seminar Agenda
Friday, January 5

Lester Ruth and See Hong Lim, “The WFX Technology Conference with Implications for Contemporary/Modern Worship”

Lester Ruth and Swee Hong Lim, "Merging the Streams: Pentecostal and Mainline Origins of Contemporary Worship"

Nelson Cowan: “Liturgical Biographies at Hillsong New York City: Data and/or Theology?”

Saturday, January 6
9:30am-noon Pronouns in Worship Taylor Burton-Edwards, “Pronouns and Titles Addressing God in the 2017 CCLI Top 100”

Convener Election and Planning for 2019