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Announcement Regarding Instrumental Service

(On behalf of the OC Shepherds, Hilton Dean made the following announcement regarding the addition of a instrumental service on March 1, 2015.)

Last month, the elders shared with you a three-year vision for the Otter Creek Church that fits nicely with the overall mission of Otter Creek - Reaching Up, Reaching Out and Reaching In. In the three-year vision, we shared with you how we see this church, in the short-term, growing to become more like Jesus. Our worship was addressed in the three-year vision:

What is our vision for Worship?

As others join us for worship assemblies, we want them to be drawn closer to Jesus by the way we love each other and by the way we adore our God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Over the next three years, we want to lead the OCC family to:

  • Re-educate ourselves about worship.

Recognize that worship is about sacrificial living (Romans 12).
Deeply desire holy living, both individually and as a body. 

  • Place more emphasis on scripture and prayer in worship. Focus on adoration in our worship assemblies

This three-year vision for worship aligns with the long-term vision for worship that we shared with you just over a year ago as we prepared to welcome Randy Gill as our new worship minister. In that presentation, Larry Burkhart, Doug Smith, Chad Boyd and Phil Gibbs addressed 10 values of our worship and specifically talked about the music in our Sunday worship. Otter Creek has stayed committed to our tradition of only acapella music in our Sunday morning worship services. For many years we have had instrumental music in our Wednesday evening Vespers, special services at Christmas and Easter and our youth group has instrumental music in most of their activities.

They also said the following about music in our Sunday worship:

Otter Creek will remain committed to providing acapella assemblies on Sunday morning.

The Otter Creek elders will continue to embrace both acapella and instrumental as acceptable expressions of worship.

The elders will explore the addition of an instrumental service as a Sunday morning option.

The elders appointed a committee whose members were Chad Boyd, Larry Burkhart, Randy Gill, Josh Graves and me to explore the addition of an instrumental service on Sunday mornings. The committee selected several other churches to study. All the churches studied are from our Church of Christ tradition. They have added an instrumental service in the past few years while retaining a commitment to their acapella tradition.

Leaders in those churches were interviewed to learn about their experiences. We analyzed all the information we gathered in light of our history and vision here at Otter Creek. We spent a lot of time in discussion and prayer.

The committee recently presented its unanimous recommendation to the elders that one of our Sunday worship assemblies become an instrumental service no later than the fall of 2015. As had already been committed, one service on Sunday morning will remain acapella.

The elders have approved the recommendation. We believe that adding an instrumental service is consistent with our vision for worship and the values of Otter Creek. We believe that this service will effectively meet the needs of many of our current members and has the potential of reaching many who feel instruments enhance their worship experience. An instrumental service will also allow many of our members with musical talents to use their gifts for the glory of God and the enrichment of their church family.

The elders want both our acapella and our new instrumental service to be done in an excellent and uplifting manner and keep our commitment to continued unity of the body here at Otter Creek. We have considered this matter over a number of years as we have had any number of you ask us about it. Some of us and you have seen some of our children leave our tradition because they have enjoyed instrumental services in their youth programs and as they become young adults they prefer that form of music.

So what’s next ---- An incredible amount of planning will have to take place. Most, if not all, of the churches we studied had two Sunday morning services (one acapella and one instrumental) with a combined Sunday School in between the two services. That allowed time during the Sunday school hour for the different set up needed for the acapella and instrumental services to take place. We are unable to use that model until such time as the top two floors of the Creekside Building are completed sometime in the not too distant future which will alleviate our shortage of adequate Sunday School facilities.

We do not want to wait in our implementation of an instrumental service and we understand that making it work in the interim until we get our new facilities will require a great deal of creativity, planning and patience. The elders have asked Randy Gill to assume leadership of the planning process. We are sure that Randy Gill, the

other ministers, and the MCC working together, and with input from you, will develop a plan that will allow us to move forward by this fall.

So let me summarize –

We plan to add simple, primarily acoustic, instrumental music to accompany our singing in one of the Sunday services by this fall. Whether it will be the first or second service will be determined in the next few months as the planning process takes place.

You will have an opportunity to provide input to the planning process to help us meet the needs of as many members as possible.

We will continue to have an acapella service on Sunday morning.

Let me just add a personal note – I am now 71 years old and have attended acapella Churches of Christ my entire life. I served as a song leader at many churches for more than 40 years – I led my first song during a singing school held at my home church during the summer when I was about 12 years old. I love our acapella tradition but accept that it is just that – a tradition. Sallie and I will likely attend the acapella service most of the time. We love Otter Creek – here we have a variety of viewpoints and opinions – and yet we are still a family. We look forward to being part of this church that will offer the instrumental alternative to those who prefer it.

We hope and pray that God will bless our efforts as we continue to try and worship him in our Sunday services in ways that he finds pleasing. If you have any questions, please contact any of the elders, ministers or Randy Gill. You may email us at the address on the screen:  . During the coming months we will keep you informed about the planning process.

And now Chad Boyd will offer a prayer to God on our behalf – that this process will go well and that Otter Creek will remain a unified body of believers working together as A family growing to become like Jesus.

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