Faith & Worship

With help from its youngest attendees, PAM conference ends on a high note

Since Friday’s closing worship at the Presbyterian Association of Musicians’ Worship and Music Conference focused on communion, dozens of loaves of bread from all over the world were spread on the communion table before worshipers. For this service, children were also front and center — right where Jesus wants them to be, according to Mark 10:13-16, one of the texts selected by the conference preacher, the Rev. CeCe Armstrong of St. James Presbyterian Church in Charleston, S.C.

Servants’ Entrance

For a minister of music who’s also a choral music and conducting professor, Tom Trenney is a born storyteller.

‘We are free’

During Thursday morning’s worship service at the Presbyterian Association of Musicians’ Worship and Music Conference, the Rev. Cecilia (Ce Ce) Armstrong told those gathered in person and online that she was not going to preach a devotional sermon.

Words matter

To prove his assertion that, in music and in other life pursuits, words matter, Tom Trenney led off his Routley lecture Wednesday with examples of paraprosedokians — sentences that begin innocently enough, then veer off in unexpected directions.

Whistle while you worship

One Sunday morning, Tom Trenney, the Routley Lecturer this week for the Presbyterian Association of Musicians’ Worship and Music Conference and the minister of music at First-Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, invited the choir and whoever wanted to in the congregation to whistle during the hymn “Lord of the Dance,” except during the somber fourth verse. He tried the same thing Tuesday, inviting class participants to pucker up behind their masks and whistle.

‘I can’t believe I get to be part of something so beautiful’

It’s Tom Trenney’s job to deliver the Routley Lecture each day this week during the Presbyterian Association of Musicians’ Worship and Music Conference. Rather than lecture students meeting both in person at Montreat Conference Center and online during his opening talk on Monday, Trenney told them a story from a few years back about a college student of his named Summer.

‘You are mine’

Preaching on John the Baptist, whose ministry centered on preparing people for one more powerful than he and who would baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit, the Rev. CeCe Armstrong began her sermon on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, with these words: “You belong to God.”

‘Surprise, surprise, surprise!’

When he portrayed Private Gomer Pyle during the mid-1960s, actor Jim Nabors employed a number of catch phrases, including “gall-lee” and “Shazam.” But Pyle, who hailed from fictional Mayberry, North Carolina, which is in the same state as the very real Montreat Conference Center, the setting the Presbyterian Association of Musicians’ Worship and Music Conference, was best known for recounting mixed-up stories punctuated by this phrase: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”