I was delighted to sit down and chat with Dr. Betty Weatherby, the program director of our Worship Leading program. She has such a passion for training our students to lead through worship.
How long have you been teaching here at Kingswood? What were you doing before you came to here?
I’ve been teaching here at Kingswood since 1993. Before that I was quite involved at Moncton Wesleyan Church as a lay person, playing for services and leading the church’s choir, for two of those years. I also was busy raising my children. One day Dr. Art Maxwell left a message on my phone, asking if I would consider teaching at Kingswood. I didn’t get back to him, but he called again a month later. I accepted his offer, and I started teaching piano and music theory. I commuted back and forth for five years.
In 1998, I was asked if I would become the program director. The Lord sold our house in five weeks, and we had three weeks to move to Sussex. We saw Him go before us and make a way. In 2008, I knew it was time for a change and I stepped down from the role. That year, I applied to the doctoral program at the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies. I got accepted the fall of 2009. I graduated in 2013 with my doctorate and began leading the program at Kingswood again.
What is your favourite class that you teach?
My favourite class to teach is “Theology of Worship.” It isn’t my easiest course to teach, but it gives me the most purpose and stirs my soul.
How would you define worship?
There is no single one definition of worship. However, it always involves our response to who God is. We tend to think it is solely an expression of adoration to God. Sometimes, worship is an incredible sense of conviction, shame, and brokenness before God, which is different from adoration and praise. Worship is meeting with God and being in His presence. It is our response to who God is and His work in our lives.
Why do you think training to be a worship leader is so important?
We’re trying to train not just musicians but worship pastors. We certainly want to develop good musicians, but we also want them to have a pastoral heart. Today’s worship leader needs to have a broader, deeper understanding that worship is more than music. There is a perception that worship is a feeling or an atmosphere. Scripturally, worship is a verb: it is an action, something that we do. I was reading just this morning that the entire biblical narrative can be summed up as God calling his creation to right worship. So I’d say it needs to be a priority.
There is a vacuum of understanding in the Church regarding worship theology. My perception is on one hand, some churches don’t even give worship a thought. It is just what they do each week. On the other hand, there are churches that give worship a great deal of thought and really understand what it means to engage with God’s presence. When that happens, God is free to move.
As for the ancient-future worship concept, we can only understand our present context in light of the whole of God’s story. We can’t isolate ourselves from what has happened historically. Our faith is rooted in the history of the Church. We need to ask ourselves, “How has the Holy Spirit guided the Church for the past 2,000 years?” We can’t fully understand who we are unless we do so. Otherwise, we are at the mercy of every trend that comes our way and get too caught up in the present moment. What has God’s plan been? Where are we going? We cannot separate the two.
Where do you hope to see Kingswood headed in the future?
I dream of sending out young people who understand that worship and transformation are 2 sides of the same coin. We are not interested in just training people to lead musically. People’s concepts of who God is, is usually learned in the worship context.
What are some things that you absolutely love to do in your free time?
I like doing projects. I did a major sewing project this summer and covered all the cushions in our trailer. I enjoy reading novels that educate me about history and culture. My husband and I love to sail, because it’s all about working with the wind, whatever it is that day.