BORN OUT OF A MOVEMENT OF CHURCHES WORKING TOGETHER IN THEIR HOMETOWN, THE CITY HARMONIC IS NOW LEADING A MOVEMENT AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO BRING GREATER UNITY TO CHRISTIAN CHURCHES EVERYWHERE
WE ARE ALBUM RELEASES SEPT. 4, “WE ARE” COMMUNITY EVENTS LAUNCH SEPT. 11.
NEW DOCUMENTARY AVAILABLE AT WWW.WEARETHECITYHARMONIC.COM
When the steel industry abandoned Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, the city’s churches united under the banner TrueCity to help revitalize a dying community. Four worship leaders from separate churches at the forefront of this movement, Elias Dummer (lead vocals, keys), Eric Fusilier (bass), Josh Vanderlaan (drums) and Aaron Powell (guitars), joined forces to become The City Harmonic, a reflection of Jeremiah 29:7’s command to “seek the peace of the city.” This raucous, award-winning band has since seen the power of unity first-hand in Hamilton and internationally.
Launching their “Manifesto” anthem in 2010 that quickly became a rallying cry for believers around the world, the band is now leading a new charge, using recorded music, community events, a documentary and the internet’s global reach to bring unity to a divided world beginning with the Church.
“Do you want less division and more unity?” asks The City Harmonic members as they invite the Church to participate in a worldwide unity movement. “There is good news: we are one in Christ! And we, the Church, have a job to do as His body. We truly believe–and have seen first-hand–that communities can change for good as we work together in unity like a family. It’s a small step with an enormous impact. It starts with us.”
Giving more than “lip service” to this dream, The City Harmonic is providing resources to churches, beginning with the creation of a documentary that details the story of the unity movement in their hometown. The piece includes interviews with local church and city leaders about the process and model they followed while also sharing the amazing transformations that occurred amidst a unified Christian response. The documentary is available for viewing at www.WeAreTheCityHarmonic.com where visitors can also share their own unity stories to encourage one another.
In addition, the band hits the road this fall for “We Are” events that bring together local churches for a time of worship, prayer and fellowship as the band encourages cities to unite to serve their communities. These events include “We Are Gulf Shores” (AL), “We Are Jackson” (MS), “We Are Lodi” (CA) and “We Are Las Vegas” (NV), with 18 events currently planned and more being added weekly. (An updated schedule with event details can be found at www.WeAreTheCityHarmonic.com.)
While on the road, The City Harmonic will share songs, including radio single “We Are One,” from their new album, WE ARE, which releases September 4 through Integrity Music and is available for pre-order now at iTunes. The band will also be joined at each “We Are” event by their labelmate Travis Ryan, writer of the Newsboys’ No. 1 hit “We Believe” and worship pastor for LifePoint Church in Smyrna, TN.
“We’ve seen first-hand how powerful it is when the Church works in unity,” says Elias Dummer. “Christ changes us every day and Christ is changing our hometown… if we can somehow inspire the Church around the world to do the same… that’s more than we could ever have hoped or imagined.”
For additional information related to The City Harmonic, visit www.thecityharmonic.com,
Integrity Music artists, songwriters and ministry partners were recently honored with eight Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Award nominations in categories that ranged from Worship Song of the Year and Long Form Video to Spanish Language Album of the Year and Southern Gospel Recorded Song.
Leading the list is All Sons & Daughters who picked up three nominations, including Worship Song of the Year for “Great Are You Lord” and Worship Album of the Year for their critically acclaimed project All Sons & Daughters. The Franklin, Tennessee-based duo of Leslie Jordan and David Leonard also received a nomination for Inspirational Song of the Year for “Christ Be All Around Me” as recorded by Michael W. Smith. Jordan and Leonard are sharing these songs and others this summer and fall on The Neighborhood Tour, a 3-day worship/conference event meant to encourage and equip local worship teams.
The Melbourne, Australia-based band Planetshakers received a nomination for Long Form Video of the Year for their deluxe CD/DVD This Is Our Time, marking the band’s second nomination in that category following last year’s nomination for Endless Praise. Planetshakers is sharing songs from both projects, as well as songs from its new #LETSGO album releasing Sept. 11, during a global tour that includes stops in the Philippines, U.S., Canada and the United Arab Emirates. NewSong also received a nomination for Long Form Video of the Year for their deluxe CD/DVD Faithful and will be sharing songs from that project, including radio single “This Beating Heart,” during their October Beating Heart Tour.
Songwriters Travis Ryan, Richie Fike and Matt Hooper received a nomination for Pop Contemporary Song of the Year for “We Believe,” the No. 1 radio hit as recorded by the Newsboys. Fellow Integrity writers Israel Houghton and Michael Farren were also honored, with Houghton receiving a nomination for Traditional Gospel Song for “How Awesome Is Our God” and Farren receiving a nomination for Southern Gospel Song for “Pray Now.”
Integrity’s publishing partner, Gateway Worship (Gateway Church) also received a nomination for Spanish Language Album of the Year for Gloria A Dios.
The 46th Annual GMA Dove Awards show will take place October 13 in Nashville, TN. Additional information, including a complete list of nominees, is available at http://doveawards.com.
Guest Post From Paul Baloche
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (I Corinthians 9:19-23)
Being “all things to all people” can sound like unhealthy, people-pleasing behavior. How many of us have tried to please everyone in our congregation through song choices and music styles, only to realize that you can’t please everyone. Yet Paul gives us the context for his attitude and actions. “I do this for ‘the gospel’s sake’”—a beautiful declaration of his motivation and love for Christ and the good news.
The upcoming issue of Worship Leader magazine is on worship around the world in order to challenge and inspire us to reach beyond the four walls of our church or traditional bias. How do we connect globally in ways that are meaningful, that are biblical, and congruent with spirit and truth? How can we embody the heart of the gospel message: welcoming the stranger, living out mercy and justice, knowing that in Christ the walls that divide have been broken down?
On a local level, I found it fascinating over the years that for the most part, Sunday morning church was segregated along racial lines. There were several Spanish-speaking churches, Korean churches, Black churches, etc. For over 20 years we tried various approaches to create gathering places that were welcoming to “all peoples.” A few times, we simply invited one of the local Black churches to come and lead us in our sanctuary as they would normally do in their own building. This was a small but significant step in a rural part of Texas where race was an even bigger issue in generations past. Our invitation was not to patronize but to humbly acknowledge our need to get to know our neighbors. It affected our congregation each and every time. Humbly asking and sincerely honoring other cultures into our communities is a first step in experiencing the reality of Ephesians 2:14 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”
While speaking at a recent predominantly White worship conference, someone mentioned that a team of 25 members of a Bronx, African American church were in attendance. I couldn’t resist inviting them up, handing over our instruments, and asking them if they would lead us in the way they’re accustomed to. To my surprise, such a genuine moment of community broke loose, as many of us yielded to a style that was much different yet so similar in it’s intent. Worship, joy, laughter, clapping, singing, and praise to our God rose up. Genuine tears and emotions flowed down as we asked their worship pastor to pray for racial healing in our land and in our churches. Teams from every denominational background cried out in prayer to “The Only God our Savior” (Jude 1:25). “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Ps.133:1). Of course, when the weekend was finished, we all went back to our somewhat segregated communities, but we were changed nonetheless. Once we experience moments like that, it’s hard to just go back and “do church” the way we always have. There is a yearning for connection with those who are different than what we are used to. Different and yet so similar in our hope in Christ, our trust in His Word, and our reliance upon His Spirit.
Language and Culture
In the last few years, we’ve recorded two French-speaking worship albums (find them here) in an attempt to interact with a remnant of leaders who work in such a spiritually dry land. Seeking out and inviting next-generation worship leaders to be part of these recordings became a way of breaking down language and cultural barriers. We have since followed up the recordings by doing several tours throughout France, Switzerland, and Quebec. These areas are typically underserved and yet so hungry for Christian ministry.
Learning a few songs in Dutch served us well when the power went out at an outdoor festival of 20,000 worshipers. What could have an awkward moment of silence turned into a rousing, spirit-filled a capella chorus of “How Great Thou Art” in the Dutch language, which then led to several other choruses until the power came back on. It was one of the most glorious worship moments of my life.
Finally, in a series of outdoor worship events throughout India recently, I was struck by a group of teenage girls, dressed in traditional garb, dancing together as they sang out. Their synchronization and choreographed movements were so unique and worshipful. Towards the end of the evening, I invited them up on the platform to sing and dance for us as we sang our last few songs. Again, what could have been potentially awkward, turned into the highlight of the evening—a breakthrough of sorts—as we came to find that each one of these girls were rescued out of Hindu Temple prostitution. As the band played very simply in the background, I asked a few of the girls to take the microphone and lead us in prayer for their nation.
These are “God moments.” They happen when we’re willing to take small risks in our planning and leading of corporate worship. Whether on a local-church level or on a missions outreach, let us prayerfully discern how we might be instrumental in creating an environment that is welcoming and respectful to all backgrounds and styles of Christian worship.
Paul Baloche is an Integrity Music artist, worship leader, and singer-songwriter.
Find out more bout Paul Baloche and his ministry at leadworship.com.
Original Source: http://worshipleader.com/culture/breaking-sunday-segregation/
International worship leader, music pastor, songwriter and producer Noel Robinson will be leading worship along with Israel Houghton & Newbreed at the Deeper Conference 2015 in Houston, TX August 5 – 8.
Noel will be playing “Freedom,” his newest single from the soon-to-be-released Integrity Music album “Outrageous Love”.
Grab your copy of “Freedom” today!
Recorded at regional conferences held in three different cities across the UK earlier this year, it captures a move of the Spirit across the New Wine movement and seeks to reignite the Church to become a radical agent of transformation.
The album features original songs written by the New Wine Worship Team of Chris Lawson Jones, Chris Sayburn, Lauren Harris, Susie Woodbridge and Sam Bailey, and marks a step forward in terms of creativity and experimentation. Alongside these new tracks are songs from other writers, chosen for inclusion because of a sense that they are particularly significant for the Church in this season.
Wildfire is out now, available everywhere
Raucous, award-winning band, The City Harmonic, known for its eclectic modern hymns and worship anthems of longing, hope and celebration, was formed through the sweat, joy and tears of urban mission. From a crucible of small churches of various denominations in Hamilton, Ontario, calling themselves TrueCity, the heart and line-up of the band was fused. Grappling with the struggle of everyday people and writing songs for worship fueled by a “together for the good of the city” ethos, The City Harmonic returns with its third full-length album, WE ARE, releasing through Integrity Music September 4.
Composed by The City Harmonic members Elias Dummer (lead vocals, keys), Eric Fusilier (bass), Josh Vanderlaan (drums) and Aaron Powell (guitars), and produced by Jonny Macintosh, WE ARE (#WeAreTheCityHarmonic) bursts with a renewed commitment to the band’s original pulse. With 11 authentic expressions of worship and unity, WE ARE captures what gets them up in the morning and keeps them grounded come what may.
“It’s easy in the craziness of making music to lose sight of why you started,” Elias says. “But we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve traveled the world in a way we never expected and we’ve seen the beauty of Christ working through this crazy, diverse family we call the Church.
“Along the way, we’ve seen first-hand how powerful it is when the Church works in unity,” continues Elias. “Christ changes us every day and Christ is changing our hometown… if we can somehow inspire the Church around the world to do the same… that’s more than we could ever have hoped or imagined.”
From soaring anthems like “Solid Rock” and “Maranatha” that call believers to loudly declare their praises to the quieter moments of devotion in “Still and Small” and “One,” WE ARE builds on the truth that in Christ, we are one. As the album’s first single and video, “We Are One,” boldly proclaims:
All life and death and what’s to come belongs to Christ
So here we stand, hands lifted high, the very hands and feet of Christ,
No holding back, no wasting time for we are one… to the glory of the one true God
It can take months before some songs become popular. Most never find success at all. But, every so often, a song strikes a chord and finds an audience, literally, overnight. This was the case for “We Are One” following the band’s debut performance of the song on the May 2 episode of “Beyond A.D.,” the NBC.com talk show that accompanied the network’s hugely successful miniseries “A.D.: The Bible Continues” from producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. To measure audience reaction, Integrity made the single available as a 48-hour iTunes exclusive following the band’s performance. The very next day, the song hit best-seller status on iTunes charts in North America, rising to No. 1 on the inspirational chart for the band’s home country of Canada and remaining there for the entire 48 hours it was available.
The single is now permanently available on iTunes leading up to the global release of WE ARE in September. The band has been sharing “We Are One,” along with other songs from the new album and fan favorites like “Manifesto” and “Praise The Lord,” during recent appearances such as the Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham in Jacksonville, Florida, the YC Alberta Conference in Edmonton, Alberta, and the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas. They are also working with churches to arrange “We Are” events in cities across North America to help build unity within communities, and are developing a mini documentary that shares the TrueCity story and model for churches. The band is further developing a special website created to support the “We Are” community events and unity initiatives.
About The City Harmonic
Born out of a church unity movement in the blue-collar steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, The City Harmonic formed in 2009 after leading worship for inter-denominational student events. By 2011, the band had won its first Gospel Music Canada Covenant Awards, including one for Modern Worship Song of the Year for the anthem “Manifesto,” a rallying cry for believers around the world. More Covenant Awards, a Juno Award and a Dove Award nomination followed as the band released the critically acclaimed albums I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home) and Heart and introduced the songs “Praise The Lord,” “Holy (Wedding Day),” “Mountaintop” and “A City On A Hill” to churches and radio stations internationally.
Worship Leader and Minister Tim Hughes Releases Album Pocketful of Faith, Plants New Church In Birmingham, England
Tim Hughes is one of a small group of British worship leaders and songwriters who have helped shape and define the faith journeys of worshippers young and old for the last fifteen years. The author of songs that have deeply resonated with generations of Christians around the globe, Tim is best recognized for his Dove Award winning modern worship anthem “Here I Am To Worship” along with songs such as “Happy Day,” “Beautiful One” and “At Your Name.” On July 17, he delivers a new set of songs with Pocketful Of Faith, a 12-track album that reflects a new season in his ministry.
Tim’s story is a well documented one. From leading worship for tens of thousands at the annual UK Soul Survivor events, to joining Holy Trinity Brompton as Music Director. Tim, who is ordained within the Church of England, also pioneered Worship Central, a global movement of worship leaders that run conferences, create online resources and record albums (Spirit Break Out, Let It Be Known and Set Apart.)
A career spanning so many high points is surely an impressive statement, an incredible contribution to resourcing churches from all corners of the globe. These are all tremendous accolades and achievements to have accomplished. And at only 37, Tim’s just getting started!
This year, Tim and his family embark on a new adventure as they relocate from London to Birmingham, England, where Tim will serve as Priest-in-Charge of St Luke’s Parish and where he will plant a new church in the heart of the city’s entertainment district. So, it is fitting that his latest music project, which he describes as a “deeply cathartic experience,” is titled Pocketful Of Faith.
“This project has been a very personal one for me… these songs are prayers, cries of hope, declarations of promises, vulnerable, raw longings for God to do something truly extraordinary,” said Tim. “I don’t know about you, but I’m all too aware of my short-comings and weaknesses. But I want to be someone who offers up my ‘pocketful of faith’ and lives a life believing that God could do something immeasurably more than I could dare dream or imagine.”
Pocketful Of Faith, his fifth studio album, includes songs co-written with Martin Smith, Matt Redman, Reuben Morgan, Phil Wickham, Jonas Myrin and Tim’s Worship Central teammates Nick Herbert, Luke Hellebronth and Ben Cantelon. The tracklist, including “Hope and Glory,” “Plans” and “Only The Brave,” speaks perfectly to this new chapter in Tim’s life, but also reflects the struggle of all believers.
This is why I’m living / To face the giants with You…
And though my heart is racing / I’ll leave my armour with You – “Only The Brave”
In step with faith is obedience, a deliberate theme throughout the album. Tim explains: “On this journey I’ve been thinking about obedience and how often we don’t like to embrace its challenges. It can be so easy to get caught up in building a successful career thinking about how we can become safe, secure, comfortable, happy but actually Jesus’ call on our lives is to follow, and obedience is at the heart of that command… if this album carries a message, and it’s predominately preached to me, it’s that we need to seek the Lord and step out obediently in following him whatever the cost… stepping into the unknown, trusting and believing that God will come through.”
Pocketful Of Faith is the story of Tim’s family stepping out, leaning into God when His new call came, unsure of what might happen but sure God was on their side.
“I was keen that the album captured this blend of celebration and raw abandoned intimacy, that seemed to be so much of what life is about… these moments of joy and exhilaration, adventure, excitement, mixed with moments of pain, insecurity, fear, uncertainty. And in all of this, we find God. I wanted the sound to capture something of those extremes. To feel brave but also to feel intimate. To carry that tension of being bold but feeling overwhelmed.”
Pocketful Of Faith is Tim’s musical statement of belief and a declaration of faith that God is there, ready to catch you when you step out into His plans for your life.
Tim concludes, “My prayer now is that these songs would be a blessing to many churches and individuals as they seek God earnestly, trusting and believing in someone that has a greater purpose for our lives…to be part of something bigger.”
Connection in the Digital Age by Leslie Jordan
Every morning, I have my social media routine. Instagram first – it’s my favorite. I open Twitter, check my email and finally Facebook where I mindlessly scroll and swipe, pausing on the stories that I’m most interested in seeing. Sound familiar?
Throughout my day, I would unconsciously open my browser on my phone, type in “f” and hit enter. My phone knows that “f” in the search bar means Facebook. I’ve trained it that well. Then, a month ago I quit Facebook.
To be honest, I was struggling to see the purpose of my scrolling. I would find myself just wasting time and getting lost in the deep abyss of updates, religious rants and cat videos. I would log off and fail to recall seeing anything of value. Yes, it was nice to be “connected.” But the more often I said it, the less I believed it was actually true.
The average American spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook.(1) And among adult users on the social media site, the average number of friends is 338.(2) So if we do the math, we spend roughly 7 seconds per friend (assuming we haven’t blocked half of them because of their political views, baby pictures, or Farmville invitations!)
I suppose this is why I quit. I didn’t need one more excuse to perpetuate false connections with friends. Being a traveling musician, I am learning to value the time spent face-to-face with people. I long for deeper relationships, broader conversations; to know and to be known. It is becoming more and more difficult to cultivate offline relationships in our online world.
Henri Nouwen says this, “What we see, and like to see, is cure and change. But what we do not see and do not want to see is care: the participation in the pain, the solidarity in suffering, the sharing in the experience of brokenness.”(3) Care takes time. True connection takes time and presence – much longer than the 7 seconds we allot while we are online. Brené Brown defines connection “as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”(4) In our ever-present need for social connection, the temptation is to believe that it happens online. That by sharing our opinions, favorite selfies and blogs, we are seen, heard and valued. But we were designed for more. We were designed for an exchange. Jesus’ ministry was not only focused on the masses, but also spent intentionally with his 12 best friends. The night before he was betrayed and murdered, he gave them the greatest charge. “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus revealed that connection was an exchange. A receiving of love and a giving of love. Connection is not something we observe, but rather something in which we participate.
Love is cultivated over time. Quitting Facebook didn’t free up a ton of time and I don’t believe it is the solution to our problem with connection. But it is one less distraction I fight against each day. My hope is to be more present in each moment. To love more fully. To care more deeply. To take serious the charge of Jesus, to love the way He has loved me.
(1) Mark Zuckerberg, Q2 earnings call. Reported by nbcnews.com,
(2) Pew Research Center, 6 New Facts about Facebook. Aaron Smith. 2/3/14
(3) Henri JM Nouwen, Out of Solitude
(4) Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.
Congratulations to our ministry partners ICF Zurich and ICF Worship, whose new album Pouring Love recently hit the No. 5 position on Switzerland’s mainstream music chart! ICF Zurich is part of the International Christian Fellowship of churches, one of the biggest church movements in Europe, with 36 congregations sharing the Good News of the Gospel.
Pastored by Leo and Susanna Bigger, ICF Zurich is a non-denominational church with over 2,800 attendees spread across five different locations within the city and its surroundings. Pouring Love captures the original songs birthed within this church and the larger fellowship.
“So wonderful to see the songs coming from the ICF movement go beyond the four walls of the Church and into the Swiss mainstream… I believe there is a sound arising from Switzerland that will reverberate around Europe and that the songs from ICF are a significant part of that soundtrack.” – Les Moir, Director of Artists and Repertoire for Integrity Music UK.
Fresh from selling over 7500 copies of his last album ‘Nachoonga’ worldwide, internationally celebrated Indian singer-songwriter, musician and producer Sheldon Bangera is back with new album ‘Raaja Hai Mahaan.’
’Raaja Hai Mahaan’ documents both Sheldon’s personal spiritual life and also that of the Indian church in 2015. Sheldon says, “This album is a reflection of many seasons with God, some of them we’ve been singing for the last 5 – 7 years. They mark personal experiences and reflections of what God is doing with the church. They are songs of hope and I feel like the whole aesthetic of it will be a blessing to many, even people who don’t understand or speak Hindi.”
Sonically an “east meets west” vista, blending traditional Indian sounds with a western worship flavor, ’Raaja Hai Mahaan’ is a celebration of cultural diversity at its finest. Inspired by a good friend in England, Sheldon decided to write what he describes as a ‘new part of God’s bigger picture of the east meeting the west in worship.’
Bringing these two worlds together through songs on ’Raaja Hai Mahaan,’ the album has given a western audience the chance to glimpse an interesting and exciting perspective on what God is doing in Sheldon’s native home country, India. He elaborates,“COLOR! It is beautiful. In the middle of the chaos and brokenness, we see the compassion of a great and mighty God. Culturally, there is a fresh wave of Indian-ness and the belongingness and awareness of being Indian is being felt like never before.”