GNJ Director of Worship, Eric Drew, set to launch the 'Center of it All' worship project this Spring. Photo by Josh Kinney

A New Sound for Wesleyans in the Works

March 4, 2017 | | News

A new Wesleyan centered album and resource kit will launch this May with plans to ignite momentum and worship revival within the United Methodist Church. Eric Drew, Director of Worship, wrote and performed the music in the project titled, “Center of it All” and hopes it will blaze the path for what Methodist worship could be.

“We inherit a tradition of song writing greater than anyone else,” said Drew, referencing Charles Wesley and the famous hymns that have come out of United Methodism. “But over the last twenty years or so the worship wars have got us doing more criticizing than creating.”

The album, birthed out of a heart for creating a new and different sound, seeks to address what the Wesleyan world has to say in regard to worship, with songs driven specifically by Methodist theology.

Drew hopes the project will offer powerful, catchy and meaningful songs as an alternative to vetting existing Christian worship music for theological alignment.

Within many Christian churches, worship leaders and congregants are writing their own worship songs that tell the faith journey of their congregations. Some United Methodist churches in GNJ are starting to do likewise.

“This is a movement that’s happening and I don’t want us to miss it,” said Drew. “What does it look like for us as United Methodists to offer a voice? Let’s create and have something to contribute.”

Fueled by what United Methodists believe and how that’s expressed, the album is also strongly shaped by Drew’s personal faith experience in 2016.

“These are real songs expressing Wesleyan theology with a new sound,” said Drew. “Some are meant to express more emotion; showcasing the highs and lows we experience in our faith.”

Lay leader John Mulhern at Trinity UMC in Ventnor produces jazz music at his church’s professional studio. He became an adviser and close friend of Drew throughout the process.

Kurtis Parks, Worship Director of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., produced the album, working closely with Drew on the “Center of it All” project. Parks, who was the keynote speaker at last year’s Central Region Day of Learning Doxology Worship Conference, coached Drew on the next steps and finances necessary to bring the project to life. Parks’ worship team is made up of 150 singers and musicians who travel to churches and conferences sharing their vision to see “global revival through personal worship.” With a desire to see passionate worship emerge in churches, Parks coached Drew who wrote up a proposal of the project’s broad and far-reaching vision.

Bishop Schol, who has encouraged the cultivation of risk-taking and innovative ministry to engage churches in new ways, expressed great support for the project.

Understanding that this album would have great impact throughout the conference, Drew applied for and received a GNJ ministry grant to help bring the project to fruition.  As part of the grant agreement, churches will be able to download the sheet music for free to use in worship and 50% of all sales of the album will go toward the Mission Fund.  The other 50% of sales will go to creative worship projects, supporting the innovative endeavors of other United Methodist worship song writers and musicians.

“I’m grateful for GNJ leadership engaging the next generation,” said Drew, who works alongside an accountability team made up of a District Superintendent, GNJ staff, laity, and clergy to set goals and timelines.

The project includes the full-length worship album and free downloadable digital resources and sheet music for church worship teams.

“The idea here is to give the United Methodist Church as a whole a new sound for Wesleyan theology that churches can learn and use,” said Drew. After the album’s release, he plans on embarking on a traveling ‘Night of Worship’ where churches can book ‘The Center of it All’ worship experience and come together for a night dedicated to praise and meaningful prayer.

More information about the launch and availability of downloads will be provided on the GNJ website and in the weekly GNJ e-newsletter, The Digest, as it becomes available. Find out more about Eric Drew Music at www.ericdrewmusic.com