GCoMM 2003

Fort Worth, Texas, USA
From September 15-18, 2003, more than 300 delegates, who serve in nearly 30 nations around the planet, converged for the Global Consultation on Music and Missions (GCoMM). This historic event was held on the grounds of the world’s largest evangelical seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Texas. Members of the Body of Christ joined together for one purpose: to be holy worshippers calling the whole world to whole-hearted worship.

One of the great attractions of this gathering was the huge diversity of seminars for the delegates. Nearly forty topics were discussed, including the role of media and recordings, the arts and cultural restoration, the use of music with Chronological Bible Storying, blending contemporary and cultural music, the need for missionaries to receive education in music culture, teaching about worship across cultures, using music in Islamic contexts, music and issues of syncretism—more topics than we can list here. Presenters shared penetrating insights through numerous case studies from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Islamic world.

Congregational times of worship were a key component of the Consultation. A unique worship team included the usual western praise band, augmented with a percussion section employing more than 40 percussion instruments from around the world, a woodwind section featuring a vast array of flutes, a cellist and even a sitar (played by a musical missionary to India). Most members of the worship team were music missionaries with past or present involvement in India, Syria, Hungary, Germany, and various African nations including Senegal, Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda. Led by Chuck Steddom, Worship Pastor from Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, the song repertoire featured western praise songs, African and Spanish tunes, and a rich array of hymn arrangements.

Among the many new materials released in conjunction with GCoMM, two stand out. One was a compilation recording of Heart Sounds International, one of the sponsoring groups of GCoMM. Called “Heart Sounds—Sounds of Global Worship.” The other significant release at GCoMM was another compilation, in written form, called “All the World Will Worship—Helps for Developing Indigenous Hymns.” The expanded “tool chest” of materials brings together a compilation of documents and research tools, each describing an idea, activity or concept to enable the missionary or Christian worker to encourage some aspect of indigenous hymnody.

One of the important outcomes of GCoMM was the founding of the International Council of Ethnodoxologists, an Association for Global Christian Worship. ICE provides a platform for Christian ethnomusicologists and others involved in ethnic worship and the arts to partner in mission, research, and dialogue over common concerns.

But perhaps the greatest outcome of GCoMM was the forming or renewing of relationships among the delegates. Some discovered other workers from their regions for the first time at GCoMM. For others, GCoMM was a homecoming, seeing lifelong friends after years, even decades. For still others, GCoMM connected like-minded people with similar ministries and interests. The event was like a rushing waterfall of new contacts. As one person put it, “I felt like I had found a huge “family” that I never knew I had—I share so much in common with these brothers and sisters in the Lord! It was a tremendously empowering experience to fellowship and worship with so many people who are passionate about using music and other arts in missions.”

every music, every voice, every heart