An original arrangement of “Blessed Assurance” at the 2018 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference culminated in a musical round of three different phrases sung in unison, harmonizing the word “assurance” at the same time.
“Oh what a blessed assurance.” “Blessed assurance, this is my song.” “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,” sang the Whosoever Will Choir comprised of volunteers attending the conference.
Arranger, worship pastor and recording artist Joe Pace, who serves under senior pastor H.B. Charles Jr. at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., describes his arrangement as putting a “little spin” on the classic Fannie Crosby hymn.
“Cultural relevance even to our hymns is not predicated upon a specific style,” Pace told Baptist Press after the July 16-20 sessions at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina. “God calls us to worship in spirit and in truth, not necessarily spirit and in style.
“To be able to broaden the expression of worship by holding true to the theological truth that is embodied in the hymns is all we were trying to do,” Pace told BP. “They are different expressions of worship stylistically. As long as they are rooted and grounded in the same theological truth…, the style just kind of broadens the expression.”
Pace led evening worship with lively audience response at the conference that organizers describe as the largest gathering of African Americans in the Southern Baptist Convention, a training event capturing the nuances of African American church culture and worship.
“There is a style that is culturally connected to the African American church historically. That is without question, as much as it is in any other particular genre or culture,” said the Grammy-nominated Pace, who has sold over a half-million albums in his career. “But I think the goal is that we can embrace all of those styles.”
Charles sang the traditional hymn “Lord Keep Me Day by Day,” included with Blessed Assurance on the album “Joe Pace Presents: H.B. Charles Jr. and the Shiloh Church Choir,” that debuted in second place in September 2016 on the Billboard gospel albums chart.
One of four pastors who preached evening sermons at the 25th anniversary conference, Charles focused on “Power to Reach Your Full Potential,” based on Hebrews 13:20-21, in his July 18 evening sermon. “Not only can God equip you,” said Charles, the 2017 president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference, “but God can restore you after you’ve been broken so He can use you again.”
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Source: Baptist Press