Drew Theological School Hosts the 2023 Summer Music Institute

The popular event returns after an unplanned four-year hiatus

August 2023 – Drew Theological School had the pleasure of welcoming pastors, worship leaders, congregation members, musicians, alums, and students for a hybrid edition of Summer Music Institute, the first gathering of the formerly annual event since 2019.

Summer Music Institute is a day of worship, song, prayer, and community. Through the lens of the event theme, “Revolution of the Heart – New Songs for a Church Reborn,” the group explored ways to emerge from the pandemic—learning how to be a new church in challenging times through the power of music and worship.

The event was organized and led by Associate Dean of Vocation and Formation Tanya Linn Bennett and Professor of Music Mark Miller, who also served as the keynote speaker.

Miller and his musicians played many selections from his newly-released music, “Revolution of the Heart,” inspired by the global unrest and inequities displayed during the pandemic and beyond.

Theological School Dean Edwin David Aponte welcomed the attendees. “We are so grateful that you’re here with us. You’ve helped us build a partnership of doing good work in the world. We’re delighted to be connected to you.”

“Part of the joy in coming to a space such as this is creating community,” said Bennett. “We come together today to renew and restore, to call each other good, wonderfully, and fearfully made beings. We come together in companionship to instigate and interfere—to start a revolution of hearts through the power of music, prayer, and community.”

“The revolution starts here,” said Bennett at the communion table, offered as a means of grace and transformation.

During Miller’s keynote address, “Music as a Spiritual Means to Resistance,” he encouraged attendees to resist disconnection, isolation, and hierarchies—with people and feelings we do not agree with. “We must embrace and lift up justice and joy,” he said. “Justice thinks of radical hospitality. We need to be active listeners, fully present and fully open to the Spirit.”

Miller guided the conversation on what worship can look like in a post-pandemic world, and how one can bring justice and joy to music. Worship in the twenty-first century requires changing language to be appropriate with the times. “It’s important to understand the history and culture of songs and instruments.”

In-person attendees broke into guided workshops and conversations for expanded spiritual sharing and learning.


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