First Oasis music conference provides renewal, refreshment

BUIES CREEK, NC–Campbell University Divinity School held its first church music conference, OASIS renew for the journey, with more than 450 present for the closing concert by the North Carolina Baptist All-State Youth Choir.  The youth choir concert was one of four uplifting worship services in the two-day conference, attended by leaders from 130 churches of various denominations from the southeast.

 “Oasis was not a mirage . . . it was a dream come true!” said Dr. Larry Dickens,  Campbell University Divinity School’s Adjunct Instructor for Worship and Music. “Music and worship leaders throughout the southeast have discovered a new home for refreshment, resources, and relationships.”

The conference was designed to provide renewal, replenishment and refreshment for church worship leadership, paid and volunteer.  Other worship services were an opening service with a sermon by Dr. Andy Wakefield, Campbell Divinity School dean; a Celebrating Grace Hymnal Concert with a message by Dr. Jeff Roberts, pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Raleigh; and a communion service with a message by the Reverend Donna Banks, Director of Student Life at Duke Divinity School. 

“It is sometimes hard to worship when you are leading worship,” explained one participant.  “This was a great renewal.”  An organist who attended had a similar experience.  “As an organist, I could truly worship and not have to worry about what music to play next and when or how many verses to play.”

Thirty-eight breakout sessions included special tracks for pastors, worship leaders, worship technology, spiritual formation, children’s choir leaders, youth choir leaders and accompanists.  Among the favorites were spiritual renewal sessions, entitled “Keeping Our Souls Alive,” by Dr. Larry Williams, recently retired Director of the Pastor as Spiritual Guide Program, Center for Congregational Health, Winston-Salem, and the session led by a panel of pastors and ministers of music from the same churches talking about planning worship together.  One attendee who was in one of the spiritual renewal sessions said, “Presenter, setting, maybe my frame of mind, all came together to give me such a sense of peace and meditation.”

Another favorite conference was “Creative Worship” led by the Reverend David Schwoebel, Minister of Music and Composer in Residence at Derbyshire Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.  Those who attended received ideas about music variations, hymn combinations, and ways to involve the congregation more actively in worship.

OASIS: Renew for the Journey II is planned for July 17-18, 2012, featuring Jane Holstein, organist and composer from Hope Publishing Company; Joel Raney, pianist and composer from Hope Publishing; and Benji Harlan, composer and church music professor from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  Special group performances will include representatives of the Campbell Children’s Choir Camp, a summer musical learning experience led by Phillip and Susan Morrow, Campbell University, and Snyder Memorial Baptist Church Orchestra, Fayetteville.

For further information, go to  or call 1-800-334-4111, ext. 4765.

Courtesy:  Campbell University Divinity School

Photo Copy: Reverend Donna Banks, Director of Student Life at Duke Divinity School, led one of the worship sessions for OASIS Church Music Conference at Campbell University Divinity School.