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john brown university

Beginnings and Endings

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3A5A9049As the school season draws to a close, many students are preparing for a summer break, filled with internships, travel, and adventure before coming back to JBU in the fall.

For some students, however, this is not just the end of a semester, but the end of a life season.

As the years go by, the JBU Music and Theatre Department is obligated to say goodbye to students who are preparing themselves to graduate. It is with mutual joy for our graduates’ success and sorrow for the department’s loss JBUMT bids these incredible students farewell.

We have asked a small collection JBUMT graduating seniors for a word of wisdom to share with other current JBUMT students, incoming students, and prospective JBUMT students.

They responded with the following:

“Something I want to pass on — something I have learned through my experiences in the music department at JBU: Never let the fear of failure hold you back from building relationships with someone who intimidates you [or confuses you], learning new things that you may or may not end up enjoying or being successful at, or becoming better at things you think you’ve already mastered. At the end of the day, the choices that are the most difficult or risky or uncomfortable are the ones you will look back on and never regret.” – Jenna | Music Education

“Singing is my talent; I’m using it for God’s glory. What is your talent and who’s glory are you using it for?” – Seth | Vocal Performance

“If I were to say something to incoming and current students, it would be this: While you’re here, BE here.  Be with the people, take advantage of spontaneous fun and invest.  Embrace challenges, whether academically or personally, and be thankful for the humbling experiences that the Lord uses to sharpen you.  It is an incredible journey!” – Olivia | Public Relations, Drama

“Enjoy every single second in college, and take advantages of being in college, JBU. Do everything you want while you are here so you don’t regret after you graduate. College friends last forever so don’t lose them” – Jo | Worship Arts

“Go for everything. Audition for things you think you’ll fail at, take classes you think you’ll hate, talk to people you think you’ll annoy. You might have been right, but regret is worse than failure. Also, wash your socks & call your mom. She misses you.” – Kaitlyn | Cathedral Choir member, 2014 Best Actress in a Musical, 2015 Best Actress in a Play

John Brown University Music and Theatre Department graduates, we thank you for leaving a legacy. May the Lord ever bless you and keep you, and may His face shine upon you.

Returning Talents

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Organ interludes preceding gospel groups, multi-lingual prayers of the people, and the Word of God presented by a “hip hop liturgist”? These are only a few examples of the kinds of worship I’ve been able to experience and offer to God in my time at JBU.

God allows us to experience him in different and creative ways. 

Worship is meant to be creative. Gary Thomas, author of the Worship Arts textbook Sacred Pathways, writes: “Biblical figures of the Old and New Testaments confirmed to me that within the Christian faith there are many different and acceptable ways of demonstrating our love for God…. In fact, by worshiping God according to the way he made us, we are affirming his work as Creator.”

In this outpouring of praise, we meet with a multi-faceted God who does not lock himself in the cathedral or demand to be praised in the key of A major. Though in corporate worship we gather together as one unified body of Christ, he allows us to express truth and praise through our unique talents, interests, and contexts.

Over time as a Worship Arts major, I’ve learned that different people connect with God in different ways- whether that happens through joyful celebration, traditional liturgy, silent retreat, or thoughtful study. No one of these is better than another- God has created us uniquely. This is something to be celebrated!

May we find joy in our own unique encounters with God, as well as coming to value the ways our brothers and sisters seek God. Let us pray to continually appreciate variation and bless God through our special gifts.

-Rebekah

Choosing To Be Known

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I discover a lot of life when I listen and watch from the background. Given a choice, I grab a quiet spot on the perimeter of a room and just observe.

I get a front-row seat to every story in the room—a guy delivers a pick-up line that falls flat; a little girl sneaks cookie after cookie into her little purse while her mom talks intently with a friend.

Occasionally, I’ll even catch eyes with another person like me. We’ll exchange quiet nods, and never need to say a word.  We understand each other.

Wallflowers like myself can be hard to know. Sure, it’s great to avoid the risks of being noticed.  Nobody laughs when I stumble over a rug on my way to the drink table, and nobody comments on my pitch when I’m singing in the shower.  Nobody can judge the person they don’t see or hear.

But if I’m really honest, there are days when I look back and wish I’d mustered the courage to be seen.

I’m proud of our department’s outstanding people and excellent academic record. Much like me, JBU MT (Music & Theatre) has flown under the radar—not many people know what we do, how we do it, and why.  And while we may have avoided the judgement that comes with the spotlight, we have also missed out on the beauty of being known.

Today, we choose to step forward and be seen.  Today, we choose to be known.

On these pages you’ll find reflections, discoveries, and stories from students, faculty and alumni.  In everything, you’ll find evidence of our passions for music, theatre, worship, liberal arts, and the Kingdom of God.  You’ll also find a lot of honesty, some laughs and maybe even a few tears.

So, join us.  Ask questions.  Walk a day in our shoes.

And we can choose to be known together.

~ Jen Edwards

Jen Edwards is the Head of the Department of Music & Theatre at John Brown University.