Zachary Walter is a recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary, where he studied preaching and worship, and is a co-founder of Yes And Ministry. He's been an MMC Presenter since 2014.
On May 14th at St Lydia’s church in Brooklyn, Yes And Ministry and Music that Makes Community will gather together to sing and share songs. I’m a co-founder of Yes And, and I’m here on the MMC blog today to tell you about who we are and what we do and what we have planned for Saturday.
It is no secret that in the United States we do not learn foreign languages easily.
This week, my community, Yes And Ministry, is celebrating the day of Pentecost, which commemorates the Holy Spirit granting powers of language. This is an opportunity to celebrate the gifts of language, and ignite a conversation about how our churches can often be monolingual spaces.
Written music has its own language, and can intimidate musicians without formal training. Churches and communities with a culture of musical literacy often miss opportunities to engage natural musicians without formal training. By singing written hymns that are only in English, we might be discouraging non-English speakers from full participation.
Recent scholarship suggests that there might be an easy way to change that: singing in other languages. Dr Katie Overy is a Researcher from the University of Edinburgh, and conducted a study which found “adults who sang words or short phrases from a foreign language while learning were twice as good at speaking it later.” Singing in different languages is not only a way to build trust and connection, but it also can help us learn new languages faster!
To test this theory, on May 14th at St Lydia’s church in Brooklyn, Yes And Ministry and Music that Makes Community will gather together to sing and share songs, noticing in particular the ways singing can honor linguistic diversity and foster learning. We will sing songs in English, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, and more.
Yes And Ministry cultivates worship moments based on three guiding principles:
Human as Artist - honoring the creativity and creative potential of every person, believing that every person is made in the image of a masterful creator.
Yes And - affirming the creative contributions of others (Yes) while affirming our own creative contributions (And).
Opt In - acknowledging the autonomy and consent of all who participate, recognizing observation and witness as full forms of participation.
To hear some of what we’ve done in the past, click here.
Using these principles, Yes And Ministry and Music that Makes Community will join together and explore singing and improvisation, teaching and learning songs paperlessly. Here’s a few songs we will sing to expand our language repertoire:
How else can we use paperless song leading to foster learning and hospitality? Come and share your thoughts, or comment here!