Participants find renewal, relaxation at OASIS Music Conference

July 18, 2012 | Leave a Comment

Participants find renewal, relaxation at OASIS Music Conference

BUIES CREEK - The life of a church music minister - or most ministers, for that matter - means often having to work (and work hard) so others can enjoy their worshipping experience.

It means that there are few times when the ministers themselves can shed their responsibilities and immerse themselves in the experience.

That’s where OASIS comes in.

Today is the third and final day of Campbell University Divinity School’s second OASIS: Renew for the Journey Church Music Conference, an event designed to not only inform and teach those who’ve made a career of music ministry, but also designed to allow guests time to “reflect, renew and rest.”

“It provides them with quiet time and opportunity to hone their skills, all while allowing them to network with others in their field,” said the Rev. Lionel Cartwright, a 2009 graduate of Campbell Divinity School and pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in Chadbourn, who also served as a planner and volunteer for this year’s OASIS. “For them, it’s like a canopy of grace … a break from the norm. A minister’s life is a busy life.”

More than 150 guests are taking part in this year’s event, which includes worship services and several breakout sessions led by nationally known church music leaders. Tonight’s final worship service - slated for 7 p.m. at Butler Chapel - will include distinguished pianist and composer

Joel Raney, organist and composer Jane Holstein and musicians from Hope Publishing Company, in addition to the Campbell Children’s Choir and the Grace Notes Handbell Choir from Winstead United Methodist Church. The concert is free and open to the public.

Sitting in the “Oasis Room” - a comfortable lounge in Taylor Hall set up for relaxation between breakout sessions - Marcy Mittlestadt of Cornelius talked on Tuesday about why she came to Buies Creek to take part in the three-day program.

“It allows me to worship and to do so without having to at the forefront, in front of hundreds,” Mittlestadt said.

Even the workshops had a relaxed feel to them. Joyce Wolfe, director of the Winstead Handbell Choir performing tonight, had students bouncing tennis balls and doing other odd exercises in sync with the beat … creative techniques these music directors can use with their own music groups.

“Nobody goes to college for a handbell degree,” Wolfe told her class. “And compared to the violin or organ, it’s a fairly new instrument to many churches. But it’s a beautiful instrument … and I encourage people to attend these seminars and other national seminars. You just learn so much.”

Carol Dickerson, a music teacher and choir director from Nashville, Tenn., instructed a session titled, “Tips and Tricks for Terrific Rehearsals.” The class was designed for those who teach children’s choirs, and the 25 in her class Tuesday clapped, sang and even danced along with

Dickerson as she presented new ways of keeping children interested in music.

“We’re here to make it not only fun, but ‘learning fun,’” Dickerson said from behind a digital piano. “We’re dealing with kids … so I know it can get rowdy.”

According to organizers, OASIS features special tracks for pastors, worship leaders, worship technologists, youth and children’s choir leaders, accompanists and handbell directors. The bent is toward traditional music, but also includes some contemporary selections.

It is specifically designed to include tips and resources for the small-to-medium sized churches, who often struggle to find -- or afford -- resources and encouragement in music and worship.

According to Irma Duke with Campbell Divinity School, next year’s conference has already been set for July 15-17, 2013. For more information on the conference as a whole, visit