We interviewed Revd Canon Helen Bent our keynote speaker ahead of the conference
Why have you agreed to speak at the conference?
I am passionate about worship, music and mission in equal measure. I am also passionate about helping the ‘ordinary’ local church offer the best worship it can with whatever resources it has available whether lavish or limited.
Part of my role as Head of Ministerial Training for RSCM and Praxis is to fill in gaps in the training of clergy and lay leaders, especially in the area of music in worship. I have seen music in worship from both sides, having been a church musician for many years prior to ordination. Now I would see myself as a priest who is also a musician and I try to combine those two callings in my work.
Why does good music matter to worship?
“Without music, worship does not easily soar.” (A quote from the Archbishops’ Commission on Church Music: In Tune with Heaven, 1992) Music can add an extra dimension to worship. It can make words special and enhance their meaning but it is also a language in its own right. Music reaches depths that words alone don’t reach. It aids memory and so it can be key to nurture and discipleship.
And why is music so important in supporting our mission?
Music has the power to draw people in or put people off, but it can be a real challenge with limited resources. I want to help churches discover their local voice, which is authentic and connects well with their local context. The Anecdote to Evidence Report suggested: churches, that are intentional about their chosen style of worship, and intentional about preparing and delivering that worship to the best of their ability, are the churches that are growing.
What are you hoping delegates will learn from this conference?
I am hoping that delegates will first of all go away encouraged and affirmed. I hope they will gain confidence and discover good resources that work well in missional contexts. Above all, I want to turn a negative response fuelled by lack of resources into a “can do” mentality. A small adjustment in our worship can often make a disproportionate difference.
Surely this is just for people with talent and ability – what is there for the non musician?
We are all musical in some way; most of us enjoy listening to music, perhaps tapping a foot or singing along. We all have a voice and it is ours, unique to us like our DNA. I want people to find their voice as individuals but also as churches, so that they can use music to reach out effectively and connect with their local communities.
One of things I love best is to watch those who think they are not musical, discovering the joy of music in a new way.
What are you looking forward to most about coming?
Being able to share my passion for worship and mission with others.