Worship arts program a good move for Catawba

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

Catawba College introduced four new programs to its repertoire of more than 40 degree programs this semester.

One of those new programs is a worship arts concentration for music majors.

“Because of Catawba’s size, they’re able to offer unique, almost specialized programs,” said Gordon Snyder, an adjunct professor of worship arts.

Those programs, he said, “help Catawba stand out.”

“I want to either go into the Christian music industry or be a worship leader,” said Collin Denton, adding that he’s also considering doing some sort of musical missions overseas.

The sophomore initially planned to major in popular music and to lead worship with the school’s praise band, but when he was asked to be on the student advisory board for the worship arts program, he was thrilled.

Now that the program has been established, he’s already declared his major.

There are currently six majors and 10 minors in the program.

“As a worship pastor in Salisbury, I’m thrilled Catawba made the decision to go this route,” said John Kale, the worship and creative arts pastor at Life Church in Salisbury.

He’s been a worship pastor in Salisbury for a little more than four years, and worked in New Orleans and on the road before that.

Kale said he wishes there had been similar programs when he was in college.

“Worship ministry was kind of in its infancy as we know it,” he said. “There were music degrees, but nothing tailored to work at a church.”

So instead, Kale majored in religion with a focus on Christian ministry at Campbell University.

“I love what Catawba is doing,” he said.

Although he’s been on worship teams since he was 17, Kale said he would have been better prepared to be a worship pastor with a degree program focused specifically toward contemporary Christian music.

“I think I would have been better prepared coming out,” he said, adding that he feels like he wouldn’t have made as many mistakes.

Instead, he had to jump in and figure it out.

“I learned by trial by fire,” Kale said.

Worship arts students take a wide variety of classes to prepare them both musically and in Christian leadership to be a worship leader at a church.

“They get the music classes and a strong biblical foundation in that program as well,” Kale said.

Students take classes in choral conducting, leading a rhythm section, voice and guitar to strengthen their musical skills.

They are also required to participate in three different ensembles — praise band, choir and gospel choir to develop appreciation and skill with different styles of music.

Classes in ritual, liturgy and worship, as well as psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and church music are also requirements, giving students the background they need to lead in a church setting.

Students must also complete an internship as a part of the worship arts program.

Kale said the hands-on experience gives them “a much better understanding of what they’re doing.”

“I believe that experience is valuable,” he said, adding that it allows them to experience different service types and styles, and learn from under the direction of seasoned professionals.

Kale said he’s excited as a worship pastor to now have the opportunity to invest in future leaders.