Just a few minutes ago, the Columbia Seminary Gospel choir (directed by Marcus Yates) led chapel.  Under his leadership and the accompaniment of Professor Tribble on the piano, the choir invited us into a lively, dynamic, grace-filled, and abundant conversational journey as a community.  I cannot thank them enough for the liberating worship that they led today.  We opened the worship by insisting that the Holy Spirit was welcome in this place!  What truth and grace there is when we open ourselves to Holy Spirit and her guidance!
     A few days ago, I posted a sermon entitled "Breaking the Fourth Wall."  http://our1wildandpreciouslife.blogspot.com/2012/11/breaking-fourth-wall.html  Of late I have been fascinated by the theatrical concept of "breaking the fourth wall" in which the "audience" is directly addressed and invited into the story in a very tangible way.  This metaphor is challenging me to rethink the way I worship.  How often do we have "fourth walls" in worship in which the congregation is more of an "audience" rather than the living body of Christ?  How often is worship simply a play in which those leading (I am a member of this group more often that not!) "do the action" while the congregation simply observes from "behind the fourth wall?"
     Today, the CTS Gospel Choir gave us a brilliant example of what it means to break the fourth wall in worship.  As a congregant sitting in the pew, I was invited by these "wall-breakers" to join the chorus of witnesses who proclaim God's grace!  The fourth wall was shattered and no longer was worship a simple producer/consumer relationship; the congregation was invited to contribute to the praise and proclamation of the word and the line between worship leader and congregant was blurred.
     Let us give thanks for our Sisters and Brothers in Christ who proclaim God's word in a way that invites all to join in the story which both begins and ends with God's faithful and good Word!  Let us continue the conversation and, as such, I welcome your thoughts on how we might continue to break the fourth wall in the worship that we are called to do!

Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.