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There Is a Balm in Gilead: Worship as a Tool for Healing

March 15, 2018 @ 10:00 am

There is a growing body of empirical evidence confirming something that people of faith have known for a long time: our spiritual health has a profound effect upon our physical health. Worship, ritual, prayer, and singing can be physically as well as socially healing.

On Thursday, March 15, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the New Brunswick campus (35 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, New Jersey), the Reformed Church Center will host a conference examining this connection and how local congregations can use it as a force for greater good, featuring four leaders who are both scholars and practitioners.

Paul Janssen is the Alvin J. Poppen and John R. Young Fellow in Reformed Worship for the 2017-2018 academic year and pastor of United Reformed Church in Somerville, New Jersey, and holds degrees from Central College in Palla, Iowa (1981) and New Brunswick Theological Seminary (1985). During his seminary years he met and married Annette Giles, a daughter of First Reformed Church in Astoria, Queens. They have two grown children, Samuel and Emma. An occasional writer of hymns and composer of tunes, he has always had a keen interest in the liturgical life and renewal of the church, and finds deep value in both the historic reformed tradition and more contemporary influences like Taizé and Iona.  Paul’s keynote address, “Reformed Worship: Not Enough ‘From the Neck Up,’” will examine information on recent studies of how worship effects the human brain—an interest that was sparked for him by an elder in one of the congregations he served—and what that might mean for our worship leadership and planning.

Jes Kast is the Associate Pastor at West End Collegiate Church in New York City and Lead Pastor of A Taste of Heaven Soup Kitchen Church. Under her leadership she revitalized a soup kitchen and created a worshiping congregation with some of New York City’s economically poor. She is a sought after preacher and writer.  Her public theological work includes serving with Governor Cuomo’s Interfaith Advisory Committee.  She writes for The 12. Reformed. Done Daily. She will share the story of “A Taste of Heaven: How worship heals wounds in the sanctuary of the City.


Holly Phares, a professional singer, conductor, educator, composer and private voice teacher & coach, has guided singers from all walks of life and levels of experience for over 30 years, while helping them discover or recover their authentic voices.  Holly is presently the Director of Music at Old First Reformed UCC Church in Philadelphia, Founder & Artistic Director of The Healing Presence Singers, a local Philadelphia-based community healing choir, Music Director of ParkinSingers, a choir comprised of people living with Parkinson’s Disease, their care partners and friends, and recently has started a homeless choir at Old First, serving the community of people experiencing homelessness on the streets of Philadelphia. She will talk about the healing power of choral singing.


Micah McCreary is President of New Brunswick Theological Seminary.  He will be presenting on the topic of worship as pastoral care.



Part 1 – There Is a Balm in Gilead: Worship as a Tool for Healing

Part 2 – There Is a Balm in Gilead: Worship as a Tool for Healing


March 15, 2018
10:00 am
Event Category:


James Hart Brumm, Director, The Reformed Church Center


NJ Campus
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ 08901 United States
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