OASIS Conference gives church and worship leaders a place to relax and renew

congregation holds hymnals and sings in front of conductor, a tall man in a blue polo shirt with his arms extended

Pastors and worship leaders renewed, replenished and restored their creative energy at this weekend’s aptly named OASIS: Renew for the Journey Conference. The two-day conference, hosted by Campbell University Divinity School, helps church musicians to not only be reminded about the importance of worship and music, but to refocus and refine their skills to keep God at the center of their ministry.


“In church, those who lead seldom have a chance to worship,” shared Campbell Divinity School Dean Andy Wakefield. “One of the major purposes of this conference is to give people a place to relax and raise their voices without also thinking about conducting or guiding the congregation”

To aid attendees in renewal and inspiration, choir directors, worship leaders, musicians, and ministers were immersed in reading sessions, morning worship services, and an evening concert. Eleven clinicians offered their expertise on subjects ranging from how to be everyone’s favorite accompanist to creative ways to incorporate instruments into children’s choirs. 

This year’s featured clinicians include renowned composers Pepper Choplin, Larry Shackley and Joel Raney.

More than 90 participants made their way to Buies Creek from distances as far as Danville, Virginia on Friday for the seventh annual event.

“It is our hope that together we can know rest this week in an otherwise fast-paced world,” shared OASIS planning committee member Larry Dickens in his welcome address.  “We hope these days will refresh your spirits as well as your ministry resources and creativity. And through our time together, we know that you will head back with a sense of renewal to continue the good work that God has begun in you and through you.”

New to the conference this year was a church leaders track with breakout sessions specifically designed for pastors. Speakers covered new books of biblical commentary, sermon starters for busy pastors, and how to cycle through liturgy during the Christian year, and encouraged pastors seeking to incorporate more vibrant worship in their services.

Historically, the multidemoninational conference has been held in the summer over three full days. In this new two-day fall format, Oasis still filled a niche that is declining.

“There used to be so many more of these conferences on choral worship,” said Wakefield, “whereas now most gatherings of this nature are about contemporary worship. There is a need for those gatherings, of course. But Campbell is well-suited to host leaders of churches with choirs and happy to provide a place for leaders to worship together with choral pieces and hymns.”

OASIS offered a Friday evening concert featuring the Hayes Barton Baptist Chancel Choir, Memorial Baptist Chancel Choir and Campbell University Divinity School Singers.