DAVIS, CA (January 4, 2015) — Most church liturgies—whether traditional or contemporary—begin with the congregation singing songs that declare faith, but an EP released by the worship ministry at University Covenant Church starts in a different place.
The title “Worship Liturgy, vol. i: Unbelief” acknowledges a truth that is sometimes difficult to confess—not everyone walking into the service feels assured of God’s presence. The EP is based on the cry of the man in Mark 9:24 who cried, “Lord, I believe—help my unbelief, says Josh Anway, the church’s worship director.
It is arranged as a liturgy and includes alternating spoken reflections and original music with songs titled “God the Elusive,” “Stop, Wait, and Listen,” “Past Our Bones, Into the Stars.”
“I don’t know of a single person who hasn’t experienced doubt at some point along their journey of faith, and yet I’ve rarely heard it discussed publicly,” Anway says. “I don’t want to be in the business of promoting belief without risk, without a doubt, with pure certainty—I want to promote belief with critical eyes, ears, hearts, and minds.
“I want to know how to live a life that is faithful to God and God’s ways within that gap of unknowing because I think that if we’re honest with ourselves, we live in this gap every day.”
The EP can be downloaded and is free, but donations are welcomed.
The concept grew out of ongoing conversations about faith and doubt that Anway had with two interns, Nolan Kurtz and Emily Mazzariello, and at times involved the entire team.
“We set out a ‘creative hour’ every week—one hour dedicated to making some kind of original music,” Anway says. “We started out writing calls to worship themed around the sermon series. Gradually we also developed three songs, one written by each one of us. We workshopped and refined them significantly during that hour.”
Anway, who has been a worship leader for 10 years, had his own “considerable doubts” about the project because he had written only a few songs and had never recorded any of them before.
James Nagel, a songwriter and producer, who has attended UCC, donated his services and helped guide the project. Other members of the worship ministry and the church sang on the EP and appear in a music video.
The music is eclectic. “I love so many different styles of music, and I want our whole congregation, a diverse group of people, to be able to worship in ways that reflect their own heart, their own voice,” Anway says.
“I think it’s important for the church to create something beautiful,” Anway says. “I want to encourage a culture of creativity in our church. God made us in God’s image, and that includes this creative nature. We already have some wonderfully talented people here at UCC and I’m trying to work out ways to cultivate that giftedness into a place that produces original works.”