by Matt Johnson, Pastor, RidgewoodBaptist Church, Louisville
One of the highlights of this year's Spring Gathering was the session entitled "Yet to Be Made Known: Reflections on Improvisation and Mission in the 21st Century". This service blended pastoral and musical reflection with personal contemplation and group discussion. Rev. Roger Jasper, pastor of Living Faith Baptist Fellowship in Elizabethtown, provided pastoral and theological insight. The music was led by the Almeida Duo, a jazz group comprised of Saulo DeAlmeida and Denis Santos, both on the faculty of Campbellsville University.
Moving through different stages of worship (gathering, hearing, responding, and sending) DeAlmeida would first highlight an idea from jazz music (imagination, standards, improvisation, and collaboration) and then Jasper would use the same concept to offer a challenge to the church to re-imagine and revitalize her sense of mission to face the challenges of our day. Of course, the entire experience was punctuated by excellent musical performances from the Duo. The interplay between Jasper's theological insight and DeAlmeida's explanations of jazz concepts was as fitting a demonstration of jazz-like interplay between two distinct voices as the Almeida Duo itself. It was a thought provoking and inspiring session, and I hope we have the chance to hear from these voices (both pastoral and musical) again soon.