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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Christine Longhurst

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Christine Longhurst

Dr. Christine Longhurst has been Assistant Professor of Music and Worship at CMU since 2013. Prior to joining CMU's faculty, Dr. Longhurst spent a dozen years serving as pastor of worship at two Mennonite Brethren churches in Winnipeg.

What did you teach this past semester that you were most excited about?

Leading Music and Worship. It's a lot more practical and hands-on than some of the other courses I teach, and so not only do we talk theologically and theoretically about worship, we actually try things. We choose songs, we learn to pray well and how to lead prayer, and we learn to try out worship orders. It's probably the most exciting course I teach here because I get to see students growing, learning to ask good questions about worship, and gaining confidence.

What are you researching and writing?

I'm just at the beginning of two projects. With the first, I'm hoping to research some of the changes that have taken place in Mennonite Brethren worship over the last 30 to 40 years or so. The second research project is a look at current Mennonite Brethren worship practice. We don't have a clear sense of how worship is being practiced in our churches. I would like to collect some of that data. How are we using scripture? What is our practice of prayer? How are we preaching? How are we engaging children and youth in worship? How engaged are our seniors in worship? The questions could go on and on.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I am a mystery buff. One of my favourite authors, Sue Grafton, wrote a whole series of detective novels based on letters of the alphabet: "A" is for Alibi, "B" is for Burglar, and so on. Sue died this past December, so in her honour, I've taken it upon myself to start from A again and work my way through the series. I'm also in the middle of a book called When God Talks: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. It's written by T.M. Luhrmann, a psychological anthropologist from Stanford University. In this book, she explores how evangelical Christians experience the presence of God; that is, how God becomes real to them in their everyday lives.

Where or how do students give you hope?

My classes are filled with students from a wide variety of denominations, experiences, and backgrounds, and they come to class with such graciousness to the experiences and practices of others. I do not sense judgment or criticism. They're open to learning from each other, and that gives me tremendous hope for the future of the church.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

My work on the re:Worship blog, which is a collection of scripturally-based resources for pastors and worship leaders. I'm always amazed at how it continues to grow and develop, as well as the community that's being created through it. I regularly get emails from people from all across the world, from just about every denomination imaginable, who tell me they use it. I'm up to 20 million page views, and I could not have imagined that when I started seven years ago. It's something I have very clearly seen God's hand in.

What saying or motto inspires you?

I've come to appreciate a quote by Douglas Adams from his Dirk Gently detective novels: "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."

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