I Believe in the Power of Fine Arts, by Kyra McGuirk

I’ve never been particularly logical. Sure, I like to have order in my life, but in terms of my goals, none of them really make a whole lot of sense to most people. At TCU, I’m studying to get a degree in musical theatre. That’s right; I’m going to an incredibly expensive private school for a fine arts degree. You’re allowed to call me crazy. I’m well aware.

I’ve loved performing ever since I can remember. I was serenading my parents’ friends at cookouts at the age of three, and I still know lyrics to songs I used to listen to in elementary school. My parents love to tell the story of how I sang a slightly inappropriate song for my Sunday school class while we were visiting a church… We didn’t return, as you might imagine.

As I begin my senior year of college, my mind is plagued with doubts about the degree I’m getting, and I wonder what my life will be like a few years from now. The lack of any sort of plan that accompanies the type of degree I’m getting is absolutely terrifying to me, and when people ask “So what are you going to do with your degree after you graduate?” it usually puts me in a rather snarky mood. That being said, I don’t know what else I could do with my life.

I truly believe that God put me on this earth to perform. Not for any kind of personal gain, but to use the gifts He has given me to make the world a better place. Art is so important. When times are tough, people turn to the theatre, music or film to take their minds off their hardships. Good stories bring people together and fill the world with a kind of joy that can’t come from anywhere else. Theatre itself can be a tool to teach, and people can learn so many life lessons or moral or ethical issues just from watching a well-produced play. Music is proven to be therapeutic, not just emotionally but in certain physical ways as well.

These gifts can be used in church settings too; theatrical skits can add so much to a service or a camp. Music completely affects the way a service goes; to me, music is the most important part. Everyone is different of course, but I connect with God most through music. Nothing fills my soul like leading a contemporary worship service. That may sound strange, but it allows me to connect with God on such a deep level, and also allows me to spread the joy I feel to others.

So, while my BFA may seem silly and illogical to most of the modern world, I’m proud to embrace it. I may not know where I’ll be in five years, but I know that I’ll be filling the world with God’s love in the best way I know how.

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GA TIB BOOK Kyra McGuirkKyra McGuirk is a senior at Texas Christian University working to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in Music. She is originally from Indianapolis, IN and was raised by Greg and Linda McGuirk, with an older brother, Ian. Kyra has attended Geist Christian Church for most of her life.  ALTARed, the young adult worship service, is where she began her path in contemporary worship music. While at TCU, Kyra attends Ridglea Christian Church and is the Music Director of the TCU Worship Team. After she graduates, Kyra hopes to pursue some sort of career in the fine arts, and eventually hopes to be able to start a fine arts school in an area where public schools have cut funding for the arts so that kids will have the opportunity to explore their talents and pursue their dreams.

I Believe There is More Than One “Right” Way to Worship, by Dr. Harry Parker

When I was young, I grew up attending Crown Heights Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ church in Oklahoma City.  My parents remained active members at Crown Heights Christian all their lives, serving in various leadership roles including terms as an Elder for my dad, and many years of adult Sunday School teaching for my mom.  My sister and I were both baptized at Crown Heights Christian, and it was our church home.

However, when I was in grade school, there was a period of a few years when my parents also started attending a non-denominational church called The Christian Center.  We would attend Crown Heights Christian on Sunday mornings, but on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, we were often at the Center (as we called it).  These two churches had vastly different worship services.  Crown Heights Christian had a very traditional, high-church Sunday morning service, with robed clergy, organ music, a traditional hymnal and choir anthems, and a quiet, formal liturgy.  The preaching was sophisticated and philosophical.  We used to note that it seemed our senior minister there quoted Shakespeare and Thornton Wilder in his sermons as much as he quoted scripture (this was OK with me; I was already into theatre).  At The Center, no one wore robes, and the music was much from a gospel and praise background.  The Center had a piano, rather than an organ, and often guitars and drums as well.  The preaching was much more expository, and scripture based.  And the style of worship was much more informal and loud.  Folks frequently lifted their hands to pray, and called back in call-and-response prayers.

When I would ask my parents why we attended The Center, in addition to Crown Heights Christian, they told me they were looking for more.  The traditional worship at Crown Heights didn’t always satisfy their desire for praise and worship.  Why then, I would ask, don’t we just go to The Center and stop going to Crown Heights?  Their answer was that we were members at Crown Heights (I don’t think we ever “joined” The Center, just attended rather regularly for several years), and that was a commitment they took seriously.  Crown Heights had done nothing to drive them away, and they had many friends and ministries there that they cherished and wouldn’t abandon.

I don’t know what happened to The Christian Center over the years.  I know that, in time, my parents stopped attending and taking us there.  But I have many memories of great music, great people, and great worship from both of these widely disparate churches.  It taught me a lesson about worship – and about life, actually – that has served me well.  The lesson is this: I believe there is more than one “right” way to worship.  The worship I experienced at the quiet, contemplative high church of Crown Heights fed me as a young Christian, but so did the raucous, gospel church of The Center.  I believe there are as many ways to authentically worship God as there are churches – probably as many as there are people.  I am grateful to my parents that they taught me, while I was young, that there was more than one “right” way to praise God.

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GA TIB Book Harry ParkerHarry Parker is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at TCU, where he has been on the faculty since 2003.  He has directed more than 100 professional and academic theatre productions across the country.  Originally from Oklahoma City, he has a BFA in Theatre from TCU, and an MA and Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Kansas.  He is the former National Chair of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and the Founding Managing Director for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival at TCU.  He is an associate member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.