SOAP Regional Event



November 14-16, 2019

Epworth By the Sea
St. Simons Island, GA


.       Early Bird $125 (through August 1, 2019)

      Regular $150

– Single Room (2 nights) $330
– Double Room (2 nights) $230


Featured Speaker:   The Rev. MaryAnn McKibben Dana
Worship and Music:  The Rev. Bill Carter 
Liturgical Artist:       Mary Groves


A blend of
presentation, discussion, and creative interaction (along with art and music), this event will engage us all in the tools and fun of improv.


You are invited to join Ministers, Educators, Youth Directors, and church leaders Thursday evening – Saturday afternoon as we:
  • Explore seven Improv Principles that that help us to be more awake, creative, resilient and ready for life & ministry (especially when things don't go according to plan)
  • Listen for the ways music and improv create holy space for learning.
  • Worship together in the historical Chapel at Epworth By the Sea.
  • Discover how arts and the creative process can inspire and inform.
  • Enjoy fellowship and free time in a beautiful setting.

Retreat Includes


  • Time for rest renewal on St. Simons Island (Come early!)
  • Inspiration via engaging presentations, worship & music
  • Two nights lodging and all meals at Epworth By the Sea (Single: $330, Double: $230)

Soap Board Nominee



Courtney Kraus – Vice President

Director Middle School Ministries

Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church

302 Hibben Street

Mt. Pleasant SC 29464

Newly Elected-

Zeta Hastings – Treasurer

Director of Youth Ministries

Lake Murray Presbyterian Church

2721 Dutch Fork Road

Chapin, South Carolina 29036


 Living out terms-


Deborah G. Foster– President

Associate Stated Clerk Foothills Presbytery

2242 Woodruff Rd

Simpsonville SC 29681


Alesia Jones – Secretary

Director of Children’s Ministry

First Presbyterian Church

189 Church St.

Marietta, GA 30060


Amanda Rowe – Communications

Director of Student Ministries

Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church

1225 Piper Boulevard

Naples, FL 34110



Music as a Bridge to Multicultural Ministries

written by:   Jorge Sayago-Gonzalez, M. Div., is the director of youth ministries at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY. He is a worship leader with special interest in multicultural, contemporary and emergent worship.


With diversity growing at rapid rates, churches are now facing new challenges of engaging the ever-changing needs of their surrounding communities. Church educators are always searching for new ways of creating space for awakening-the-soul experiences. Music can help mold the space in which this awakening process occurs. A particular song can move us to moments of connection, peace, healing, liberation and reconciliation. Persons may not remember the discussion in the last small group, but they hum or sing the last hymn they heard during worship for the rest of the week. Out of this understanding, I have come to realize that music serves a bigger purpose in our spiritual lives and in the lives of our congregations. Music is a bridge that allows us to connect, affirm and give voice to the needs of the world. It is a channel through which we are reminded of God’s love for us. If we take advantage of music as a bridge, we allow the Spirit to use music as a creative tool to awaken our souls to new horizons of love.

It is important to remember the power of music in our lives and in the worship experience, because it is through music that the experience comes to life. When we embrace the idea of music as a bridge, we reclaim music for what it is: a universal language in which we can communicate and experience life and God. Thus, in a time when both the church is challenged to expand its borders, to embrace and reflect diversity in proactive ways, we must take advantage of the power of music and let it be a channel for unity. Therefore, “multicultural worship” (embracing the voices of other people, places and nationalities in our worship experience) is essential for today’s church. Music in multicultural worship and all the different venues in which music can be expressed such as dancing, communal signing and performances are powerful and effective ways in which the church responds to the world’s needs and celebrates who we are as people of God.

Music functions as a bridge for multicultural worship because it creates and facilitates a unique space to encounter God, reminding us of our identity, regardless of origin. A nurturing element in the music allows us to connect our story to moments, places and situations. The sound of the beating drum, the shouts of joy and dance during worship in a multicultural church in Louisville, KY, allows members from Sudan to reconnect with their homeland spiritually and emotionally. The “momento de canticos” (moment of song) with some salsa or ranchera music brought identity and belonging to the Hispanic-Latinos/ as members from West-Nashville during their blended worship service. Contemporary “praise and worship music” is a key element on youth and young adult worship. When their voices come together and are celebrated, we begin to learn from and connect with one another. Churches, therefore, can begin to respond prophetically to their calling as Christians by giving witness of God’s unconditional love.

Multiculturalism can take many shapes and forms. Some congregations see the faces in their neighborhoods changing and they welcome the new groups of their community. Knowing that these new groups have the need to connect and feel part of a community of faith, these congregations allow room for the influences of other cultures in their worship experiences. As the members reach out, they provide a hospitable environment to the new faces in their congregation. These congregations have come to realize that God is calling them to a new way of doing worship. Besides the challenges that emerge when different groups with different opinions try to work together, the openness to the “unknown” turns out to be a blessing in the life of the congregation. It works both ways because both sides of the congregation awake the plural ways in which people God and express their identity and sense of belonging. Other congregations, due to their homogeneity, find themselves without the need to respond in such immediate ways. Yet, they are willing to celebrate the diversity of the body of Christ. Many times the way of doing this is through music and worship.

There are numerous ways to apply this idea of music as a bridge for multicultural worship. A great opportunity to celebrate other cultures is during World Communion Sunday. On this day, give your service or lesson a different twist. For example, members can do parts of the worship service and prayers in different language, especially if you chose a language that has some relationship to your neighborhood, mission or members of your congregation. For congregations without members of other nationalities, sing songs from other countries, in different languages and in different styles such as jazz, reggae, salsa, hip-hop, or gospel. You can also plan a worship service celebrating the partnership of your church with other congregations around the world or other churches in your community. Combine both choirs or invite the music group from another church to have a special song during the worship service and explain the meaning in their culture, tradition and community. Small group discussions are an excellent way to follow up these experiences. You can organize a dinner, a party, or a concert where other cultures are celebrated, combining food and music from other nationalities.

Resources are out there and the opportunities are numerous; it is just a matter of intentionality. Regardless of the demographics of your congregation, through music we all have the opportunity to celebrate in news ways the wonderful diversity of the body of Christ.

What If…..

WHAT IF you no longer had Sunday School Before Worship?*
WE ARE in a church that lives between
what was and what will be.

How shall we “sing the Lord’s song” in this ever-changing landscape?

Whatever answers we find, we know the answers will NOT
  • Be found in a box of curriculum or
  • In a closed off classroom or
  • In the narrow confines of what has always been but
  • Rather, answers will be found and discovered in the interplay of CURIOSITY, CREATIVITY, INNOVATION & RISK!
BEYOND THE BOX invites you to explore what is possible in this new and strange religious landscape.
  • Cultivate adaptive curiosity that leads to creativity,
  • Take a lesson or two from jazz, and
  • Consider the difference between innovation and improvisation
Come EXPLORE a place where there Spirit does not let fear outdistance the need to RISK for the sake of the Gospel.
Enjoy the beauty
St. Simons Island too!
*You will hear about how Eastminster Presbyterian (Simpsonville, SC) has moved their faith formation away from the traditional Sunday School hour.

Awesome article from Sybil Macbeth!

About seven years ago, Memphis Theological Seminary asked me to be their “artist-in-residence” for the year. Their ironic invitation made me laugh out loud. I am a third-generation Sybil; my mother and grandmother, for whom I am named, were fine artists–oil painters and sculptors. For me visual art has always been a source of deep shame. With my maternal legacy of name and genes, I should be able to draw and paint. The reality is I cannot draw a dog or a cat or anything else for that matter; I never earned more than a C in an art class. But for the past ten years art has formed the cornerstone of my ministry.

My foray into visual arts ministry began with my own desperation. More than a dozen years ago, a dozen friends and family members were diagnosed with an array of nasty cancers. My prayers for them were puny, inadequate one-liners. “Please, God, let Sue live to see her children graduate from high school.” “Keep Peter free from pain.” “Heal Chuck.” I am a lover of words, but when I needed them most they failed me.

Although I cannot paint or draw, I love to doodle. Letting a pen and colored markers take me for a walk across a piece of paper and form abstract shapes feels safe because it doesn’t have to look like anything. One day I was doodling on my back porch and I noticed I had written the name Sue in one of the doodles. Sue was my sister-in-law with stage-four lung cancer. As I continued to draw, add color, and focus on her name, I realized I was praying for her. Each stroke of color, each line and dot was a wordless prayer, offering and releasing her into God’s care. More doodles with more names showed up on the page. The result was a visual prayer list that prompted me to pray for my friends every time I looked at it.

I called my new way to pray praying in color. What started as an intercessory prayer form gradually expanded into a way to pray my thanksgivings, confessions, petitions, adoration, and even scripture—a visual form of lectio divina. Ten years ago I wrote a book about praying in color and began to lead workshops and retreats. I morphed from a community college math professor into an accidental Christian educator. Besides doodling our prayers in my workshop, we sing, write, and dance. I morphed from a visual art-phobic person into an educator who uses many forms of art to explore new ways to pray.

Leading workshops only about prayer is a luxury most Christian educators do not have. I do not have to enter into the tumultuous waters of teaching or crafting programs about doctrine, tradition, and Scripture. Prayer seems to bypass the territorial details and beliefs of a particular denomination or faith tradition.

But after leading dozens of workshops, I understand that my job is not just teaching this particular way to pray but it is to help people find their own way to pray. As a Christian educator my job is to give people some essential tools and instructions, but also to provide a torch and a permission slip to explore uncharted ways to be in relationship with God.

Christian educators are not just teachers, organizers, and program builders but limners. A limner is a person who illuminates a manuscript, who paints and draws. I like the idea that a limner is someone who illuminates the way with painting and drawing as well as with all kinds of visual arts, song, dance, poetry, play, and imagination. Christian educators have a tough job as both instructors and illuminators. They engage our left-brains where we process the rational information, tenets, and stories of the faith. And they also challenge our right-brains to enter into the sometimes scary, untamed artistic part of ourselves and play with the information in a new way.

Jesus was a limner. He told his story and the story of God in pictures and images. “I am the door; I am the gate; I am the way; I am the bread of life….” These images do not say, “That’s it, end of sentence. Period.” Instead Jesus’ words are an invitation to enter the story and to imagine. They send out fireworks and illumine Jesus himself.  What makes Jesus so compelling and maybe even dangerous is his mysterious, right-brained invitation to know him and God in unpredictable and surprising ways.

ENRICH – Educator of the Year Laurie Farquharson

Image result for Laurie Farquharson

Laurie Farquharson loves her ministry as the long-time (27 years) Director of Christian Education at Wekiva Presbyterian Church PC(USA) in Longwood, FL.  Laurie was a “home-grown” educator, receiving a call to ministry in her own local church after a short career in elementary education and years of church volunteer work.

She began as a cradle Presbyterian with a good liberal arts education (a B. A. in English Literature with a minor in Elementary Education) from Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia. After answering God’s call to educational ministry with fear and trepidation she loved taking educator certification courses at Princeton Seminary, Columbia Seminary and Union-PSCE and continues to treasure every opportunity to learn and grow as a Christian educator.

Her areas of responsibility at Wekiva have adjusted as the church had need over the years but now include children’s ministry, adult educational ministry, and Stephen Ministry (lay caregiving). She is the staff liaison/permanent Board member for the church’s large traditional preschool program, does their chapel weekly, and teaches at least three Presbyterian Women Circles each month.

She is an active member of APCE (Association of Presbyterian Church Educators) and is most excited and very humbled to be named the 2017 APCE Educator of the Year.  She is just completing her first term on the APCE Administrative Ministry Team.

Laurie has also served in a variety of ways for Central Florida Presbytery and the PC(USA)—from Committee on Ministry member to G.A. 221 Commissioner—and is currently the Chairperson of the Leadership Development Committee, on the Presbytery Council, and is a reader for ordination exams.

As a widow with two beloved grandchildren and one dearly-loved son, Laurie enjoys trying out new recipes, watches way too much TV, loves being surrounded by books and feels most at home learning and teaching—especially about theology, Scripture, and the Christian life.

Laurie Farquharson

ENRICH – Educator of the Year

A New Year’s Prayer for Christian Educators and Pastors


God of new life,
We give you thanks for this day: the first in a new year of life and faith.

If we have learned from the lesson of years past,
We can guess what this year might hold.
There will be joy, and there will be heartbreak.
There will be mistakes, and there will be achievements.
There will be hands to hold, tears to dry, stories to tell, and grace to receive.
Do not let us miss it, God.

Open our eyes, that we might recognize your presence around us.
Open our ears, that we might hear your voice in the words of our neighbor.
Open our hearts, that we might feel the depth of your love for this world.
Open our minds, that we might discover more of who you are.

On this day of New Year’s resolutions,
Forgive us the promises we make and do not keep.
Remind us of the eternal promises spoken at our baptisms:
You are our God, and we are your beloved.

When we look back upon this year,
May we remember more than the services we planned,
The lessons we taught,
Or the to-do lists we tackled.
May we remember the glimpses of your reign:
The holy moments when you broke in around us,
And filled our lives with your grace.

God of this new year,
Do not let us miss it.


Rev. Anna George Traynham is a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary (’14) and Presbyterian College (’11). She currently serves as an Associate Pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. You can read more of her writing at her blog And also with you.