Southwestern A Cappella choir leads in worship at the Sing! Conference in Nashville

Elizabeth Bennett
| Sep 22, 2022

Nineteen students in the Southwestern A Cappella choir from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary sang in two concerts, breakout sessions, and with a mass choir of 250 people during the Sing! Conference held September 4-7 in Nashville.

“I don’t know of another conference on the planet quite like the Getty Sing! Conference,” said Joseph R. Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship at Southwestern Seminary. “Our students not only got to see world-class musicians offering their talents to the Lord, but they participated with those artists in the joyful work of Christian worship. On several occasions, our Southwestern A Cappella ensemble sang for conference attendees, and those people were encouraged not only by the musical artistry of our students, but by the authenticity of their witness through the songs they sang.”

Southwestern A Cappella is made up of School of Church Music and Worship students enrolled at Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College, the seminary’s undergraduate school.

Kristen Patrick, a Texas Baptist College bachelor’s degree student with a concentration in vocal performance from Garland, Texas said, “My favorite part was being able to worship with almost 7,000 other believers. Just to hear that many voices worshipping the Lord was almost unfathomable.”

Lina Cole, a Master of Divinity in worship leadership from Cali, Colombia, said she was ministered to and encouraged greatly by participating in the conference. 

“We expected we were going to sing, but the most important thing that happened was how the event itself ministered to everyone in the choir,” Cole said. “It was an event that exalted the Word of God. It was very refreshing to be able to respond to the truth of God’s words with our affections. We found favor in the conference with the leadership. People were thanking us for singing and saying they were being blessed.” 

Cole said the Southwestern choir, who joined other students as part of the mass choir, were encouraged by the director of the mass choir who told the students, “You have brought more than just your voices; you have brought your heart.” She said the mass choir leadership was “very thankful that we put our heart into the worship that was for the mass choir.” 

“The event itself confirmed a lot of our callings and refreshed our hearts,” Cole added. “Most of us were able to have wonderful conversations with our friends of what the Lord is doing in our hearts and confirmation of what we are being called to. We are called to something bigger than ourselves, and the Lord is gracious enough to use us for that.”

Luke Waters, a Master of Divinity in worship leadership student from Kannapolis, North Carolina, said, “I really enjoyed the plenary session on Tuesday evening. There were three different speakers: a rapper named Shai Linne, Bill Gaither, and a theologian-musician named Jeremy Begbie. They are so different from each other because they come from vastly different cultural contexts. But all three are committed to worshiping God in beautiful and creative ways,” said Waters. 

Matthew Waymack, a Master of Divinity Worship Leadership student from Flowery Branch, Georgia, said his favorite part of the conference “was that the sessions reinforced what we as students are learning at school. It’s one thing to hear Dr. Lewis or Dr. Crider speak on a topic, but to hear that same topic being discussed in the Sing! Conference setting made it more contextualized to life outside of SWBTS.”  He said his favorite song the Southwestern group sang from their “repertoire was “Only a Holy God” because it asks the question, ‘who deserves our praise, our affection? Who else would send His only Son? Who else is worthy’ and it answers, ‘only a Holy God.’” 

Waymack said his favorite song from the whole conference was a new Getty song titled The Lord Almighty Reigns. “It is a song that discusses how all creation is waiting to sing the praises of our amazing God together one day. It’s a great picture of our future worshipping God in Heaven and a great reminder of God in the present being worthy of our worship now,” said Waymack. 

Southwestern A Cappella sang all over the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Hotel in Nashville, including in lobbies of the hotel, but one of the more unique places they sang was in the valet parking pick-up area because of the request of an older lady, said Waymack. “The coolest place we sang was in front of CityAlight’s booth. We were able to sing their songs back to them and bless them in their ministry, which was amazing,” he said. 

“God is truly showing SWBTS and the SCMW His favor,” Waymack observed. “I truly believe that God is using Dr. Crider and Dr. Lewis to faithfully lead our school and that they are remaining faithful to Him and His guiding. As a result, I feel like God is daily blessing us and opening doors as we continue to model Christ in our everyday living. The Getty’s Sing! Conference was direct evidence of that. Our deans led us in being faithful to go and to go for God’s glory and God has moved and is moving mightily. I personally am just overwhelmingly excited to see the fruit of our time and faithful labor this year at Sing.” 

In addition to Southwestern A Cappella singing in various venues, the seminary hosted a booth at the conference to connect with those interested in the SCMW’s varying degree programs and give away dark gray t-shirts which were based on the cover art of Scripture-Guided Worship: A Call to Pastors and Worship Leaders, authored by Crider and which was released in 2021 by Seminary Hill Press, the seminary’s publishing arm. The t-shirt design was gold and was an artistic rendering of the ark of the covenant with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and SCMW names embedded in the design. 

During the conference, seminary leaders also introduced the new Graduate Certificate in Worship Leadership degree. The degree will allow ministry leaders around the world who desire more training in corporate worship to study in an online cohort setting in a degree program that is ten months long from start to finish. The program launches in January 2023.

"It is our prayer that our involvement with the Getty Sing! Conference will increase awareness of the incredibly strong music and worship degree programs we offer here at Texas Baptist College and Southwestern Seminary,” Crider concluded.

*Photos courtesy of Getty Music