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Southwestern launches new worship degree

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A 48-hour master of arts in worship degree to meet the challenges of changing worship styles is being launched at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Benjamin Harlan, dean of the church music school at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary, said the new worship degree will develop lifelong skills amid constantly changing trends, as well as offering expertise, specialization and cutting-edge training.

Students who choose to enroll in the program will be trained and mentored by 20 fulltime faculty members in the church music school, which is the nation’s oldest such school. Southwestern’s accrediting agency approved the new degree June 27.

Noting that the program will include an emphasis in contemporary worship, Harlan said, “We are going to have a praise team here at Southwestern that carries with it academic credit for the first time. We are offering a course in worship literature for the first time. We have had for a few years a music technology course. So there are a number of courses here that address contemporary worship.”

The degree, however, should not be construed as an option solely for those interested in contemporary worship, he said, noting that the degree will develop breadth of competence by exposing students to a mixture of courses in academic and traditional performance areas.

Additionally, the program will develop “the flexibility and facility required for service in churches of any kind,” Harlan said, explaining that the problem with worship in many churches stems from attempts to implement worship styles in churches without first considering “the church in the community context.” Evaluating the church and community contexts before implementing a style of worship, he said, may improve the unity of church worship.

To enroll in the new degree students must have a bachelor’s degree in music.

For more information on the master of arts in worship, call 1-800-SWBTS-01 to schedule a free two-day visit to the school of church music, or contact Harlan at (817) 923-1921, ext. 3100, or at [email protected].

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  • Gregory Tomlin