Course Summary

Leading Transformative Worship Through Music, Preaching and Embodied Practice

Photo by Shaun Frankland

This course explores essential aspects of the worship service such as music, preaching, and bodily movements. Theologians and pastors explain why we do these things in worship and how to best implement them in youth worship services.

Rev. Canon Chris Russell Chris Russell

Rev. Canon Chris Russell was schooled at a comprehensive school in Nottingham and after spending a year working at a church on a council estate in Birkenhead, went to Durham university where he did an undergraduate degree in Theology [1988-91]. He then went to work for Paul Boateng MP as a researcher [1991-93]. In 1993, he went to theological College to train for the Ordained Ministry at Ridley Hall. Whilst there he did an M Phil in Dogmatic Theology at Cambridge University. In 1996, he was ordained and served his title post at St Johns with Holy Trinity Deptford [Southwark]. Chris married Belinda in 1998. On the way to Reading, he served on staff at Soul Survivor Watford for a year, and in 2001 became vicar of St Laurence Reading. The church is in the centre of town and they began to work to the mandate of being a multi-generational community with a particular mission amongst young people. Chris’ First book, Ten Letters was published by DLT in 2012 and in July 2013, Chris was surprised, honoured and thrilled to be invited by Justin to serve him in this role as Adviser on Evangelism and Witness at Lambeth Palace. Chris & Belinda have three daughters [Hope, Jessie & Dora] and a very scruffy dog [Bernie]. He enjoys growing things [vegetables], chopping things [wood], listening to things [Dylan, Springsteen, Cash] and eating and drinking things in good company.

Matt Croasmun Matthew Croasmun

Matt Croasmun is Associate Research Scholar and Director of the Life Worth Living Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Lecturer of Divinity & Humanities at Yale University. He began working with YCFC after completing his Ph.D. in Religious Studies (New Testament) at Yale in 2014. While a doctoral student, he and his wife, Hannah, planted and pastored the Elm City Vineyard Church, a dynamic, diverse, urban church in the heart of New Haven, CT. With deep grounding in both the church and the academy, Matt brings to all of his work a passion for the intersection of the life of faith and the life of the mind.

His main research interests lie in the Pauline Epistles, illuminated by various streams of contemporary philosophy of science, theological reflection, and critical theory. His dissertation, “The Body of Sin: An Emergent Account of Sin as a Cosmic Power in Romans 5-8,” tackles an age-old problem in New Testament scholarship: namely, how to understand the relationship between “sins” as human misdeeds and “Sin,” the cosmic tyrant, in the Epistle to the Romans. The dissertation deploys emergence in philosophy of science to describe the cosmic tyrant Sin as a real person emergent from a complex system of human sins. Matt was a recipient of the 2015 Manfred Lautenschläger Award for Theological Promise for this work. His first book, The Emergence of Sin, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in July 2017.

Matt received his B.A. in Music from Yale College (MC ‘01) and an M.A.R. in Bible from Yale Divinity School (‘06). After his Divinity degree, he spent a summer at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute in Akropong-Akuapem, Ghana, studying with the great African theologian, Kwame Bediako.

Matt’s deepest passion is for teaching—in both the church and the academy. He has taught New Testament Introduction in Yale College, served regularly as a teaching fellow at YDS, and has taught the Life Worth Living seminar in the Humanities program in Yale College, supported by YCFC, and designed and co-taught with Miroslav Volf the ”Christ and the Good Life” course at YDS.

In addition to planting and pastoring the Elm City Vineyard, Matt has served the Vineyard denomination in helping found and steer the Society of Vineyard Scholars, directing the first-ever Vineyard Seminarian Summit, and consulting with Vineyard leaders and pastors in the U.S. and Canada. He has served as guest preacher in Vineyard, Covenant, Presbyterian, Methodist, and non-denominational churches in the United States, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, and Ghana.

An advocate of interfaith dialogue, Matt has facilitated sacred text readings of the New Testament and Quran in partnership with local churches and mosques. He also serves as a faculty advisor for the Yale Humanist Community and the Life Worth Living Fellows.

Matt and his wife, Hannah, live in New Haven with their daughter, Junia. In his spare time, he loves playing and writing music as well as playing soccer, squash, and basketball.

Tom Troeger Thomas H. Troeger

Thomas H. Troeger is the J. Edward and Ruth Cox Lantz Professor of Christian Communication at Yale Divinity School. Professor Troeger has written twenty books in the fields of preaching, poetry, hymnody and worship, is a frequent contributor to journals dedicated to these topics, and is a monthly columnist for Lectionary Homiletics and The American Organist. His most recent books include Wonder Reborn: Preaching on Hymns, Music and Poetry; God, You Made All Things for Singing: Hymn texts, anthems, and poems for a new millennium; So that All Might Know: Preaching that Engages the Whole Congregation (with Edward Everding); Preaching While the Church Is Under Reconstruction; Above the Moon Earth Rises: Hymn Texts, Anthems and Poems for a New Creation.

He is also a flutist and a poet whose work appears in the hymnals of most denominations and is frequently set as choral anthems. For three years Professor Troeger hosted the Season of Worship broadcast for Cokesbury, and he has led conferences and lectureships in worship and preaching throughout North America, as well as in Denmark, Holland, Australia, Japan, and Africa. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1970 and in the Episcopal Church in 1999, he is dually aligned with both traditions. He has served as national chaplain to the American Guild of Organists and is a former president of the Academy of Homiletics (the North American guild of scholars in homiletics) and the immediate past president of Societas Homiletica (the international guild of scholars in homiletics). He was awarded an honorary D.D. degree from Virginia Theological Seminary. Professor Troeger is a fellow of Silliman College.

Dr. Yolanda Smith Yolanda Smith

Yolanda Smith was educated at three different institutions. She remained in her home state for her undergraduate training and earned her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University. She then headed east and earned an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary (1990) before returning to the West where she completed her education by earning a M.A. and Ph.D. in theology at Claremont (1997).

She joined the YDS faculty as a visiting assistant professor in Christian education in 2000. She became member of the core faculty as an assistant professor in 2002, serving in this capacity until 2008 when a bout with cancer forced her to change directions. On disability, she continued to serve YDS part-time as a research scholar and a lecturer. She was able to teach at least one course each year through the 2014-2015 academic year. She was recognized by her peers in the profession when she was elected president of the Religious Education Association (2012-2013).

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