Mary-Louise Bringle - Re-forming Congregational Song:  The Identity-Relevance Dilemma

In The Crucified God, theologian Jurgen Moltmann identifies an “identity-relevance dialectic,” challenging the church to stay faithful to its central identity while re-forming itself to speak to its social and historical contexts.  This same tension characterizes congregational song. While God’s song is infinite and everlasting, our songs are finite and ever-changing, shifting in both medium and message to balance fidelity to past traditions and core truths with openness to the unfolding future.

Mel Bringle

Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle is a Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Brevard College in Brevard, NC.  Her Ph.D. in Theological Studies is from Emory University.  An award-winning hymn writer whose original texts and translations appear in the hymnals of numerous denominations in North America and Scotland, she has recently served as President of The Hymn Society in the US and Canada and as chair of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song, responsible for creating the new hymnal Glory to God.  She is a ruling elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, NC.

Chad Fothergill and Daniel Schwandt - Re-Membering the Role of the Cantor

Our love of the communities we serve invites us to reexamine the role of the Lutheran cantor at its 500-year mark, to think critically about how this role contributes to the work of the church in the world. Across these two plenary sessions, we will take a closer look at the vocation and education of twenty-first century cantors. Whether styled as Cantor, Kantor, Minister of Music, Associate in Ministry, or Deacon, the cantorate represents not so much a particular job description as a philosophy of teaching, observing, leading, and thinking that actively, sometimes prophetically, responds to local and cultural contexts. May our conversations and reflections help us discern these callings as we sing the story of our living faith, reformed and always reforming.

Chad FothergillChad Fothergill is a Ph.D. student in musicology at Temple University, Philadelphia, where he researches Lutheran church music of the late Renaissance and Baroque—especially the literary, pedagogical, and extra-musical activities of Lutheran cantors throughout the period. Outside of coursework and research, he is active as a substitute church musician in the greater Philadelphia and New York City metropolitan areas.

Chad has previously served Lutheran congregations in Minnesota, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, and has held teaching appointments at Gustavus Adolphus College (ELCA), the University of Delaware, and the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival. He has contributed to CrossAccentSundays and Seasons, the Prelude Music Planner blog, and the Reformation 500 Sourcebook, and has presented at gatherings of the ALCM, the American Guild of Organists, and Society for Christian Scholarship in Music. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware.


Dan Schwandt

Daniel Schwandt is the Cantor of Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA) in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. For twelve years he served as the Cantor to the Seminary Community at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and is currently pursuing graduate studies in sacred music at the University of Notre Dame. He holds a degree in church music from St. Olaf College and has served congregations in Wisconsin and the Twin Cities. His compositions are published through Augsburg Fortress and MorningStar Music, and he is in demand as a clinician and leader of hymn festivals.