I think my favorite part of the preaching festival was the worship. We were lead by The American Spiritual Ensemble (ASE). I thought it was super awesome. I have always loved spirituals, and if you’re a regular on the blog, you know that one of my life dreams is to write a musical about the underground railroad, making significant use of traditional Negro Spirituals.
It’s totally back on after that. They incorporated one of my favorite spirituals, Old Time Religion, into another spiritual, which was awesome and they sang my other favorite, Walk Together Children at least once per day, which I loved.
My favorite worship experience was during, I think Wednesday night worship, when we gathered in the sanctuary at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church (yes?) after dinner.
It was a beautiful sacred space to meet in, the Chrismon tree was still up, there was a glorious pulpit, an amazing stage, a beautiful baby grand, and luxurious and lovely pews. Magnificent marble floors welcomed us into the presence of the Holy and joined with the high, high ceilings and the wood pews to create an acoustic setting that was just perfect. Our praise found wings in that sacred space and it was beautiful. The ASE sang a few songs and then we got to join in on All Creatures of Our God and King and Just as I Am.
My other favorite part of worship was having one member of the ASE come to each preaching session and sing a spiritual that had been significant to them at some point in their lives. They all sang beautifully and it was a great way to get us centered before hearing or preaching.
I hope I never forget the sound of the ASE singing us out of Peachtree Road UMC (Walk Together Children, of course). The notes were all bouncing off the marble floors up to the ceiling then back down again to us, and it was just great. Sometimes I have dreams about it.