– by Juan C. Aragón
At the beginning of June 2023 we had the sixth edition of the Gathering of Worship Leaders of the Iberoamerican Region (EMRIA). The theme of this retreat was ‘La parte que me toca’ (the part that is given to me) which referred both to our role as servants of worship in the communities and to the portion that has been given to us as an inheritance.
165 participants from 31 communities in the region gathered at the Dann Hotel for 4 days of learning and fellowship.
The event began with a welcome party that showcased the musical and culinary culture of Valle del Cauca and then a presentation of traditional dances from the 12 countries represented. Alejandro Velosa (senior coordinator of the Emmanuel community in Cali) gave some introductory remarks that evening.The main course of this event was a 5-talk course entitled “Worship in the Sword of the Spirit: an introductory series” given by Juan Carlos Aragón (regional servant of music and worship). In this course we learned about knowing God, how we approach the Lord, the objectives and flow of a charismatic prayer meeting, the elements of our worship and the leadership roles in worship.
We had several more practical sessions to learn new songs, learn how to better use music in liturgical settings, learn about the tools available to musicians in the region, a forum to talk about leadership transitions, and a workshop about the essential elements of a music ministry.
‘Sing to the Lord a new song’ was a great success. All participants were divided into groups of 5 and each group was given the task of composing a song with various criteria, to be used in our community worship. There were some ‘experts’ who assisted the groups with melody, harmony, lyrics and spirituality. Two hours were dedicated on the first day and two hours on the second day. On the evening of the second day we had a chance for all the groups to present their songs – more than 30 new songs were composed and will soon be used in our gatherings!
One of the participants’ favorite moments was a workshop given by Rodrigo Sett and William Contreras (from the Servants of the Word) where we learned about inspired song and singing in tongues and then put it into practice in a workshop-style prayer room.
During the event we had prayer times in the morning, a prayer meeting, an opening celebration of the Lord’s Day and, as the closing of the event, we had a special gathering in which the entire Emmanuel Community joined in.
In this EMRIA, for the first time in history, the coordinators of the communities were invited to receive the retreat so that they can replicate it in their councils and communities. It was a blessing to have 17 coordinators from different communities. For them there was a round table where we discussed the topic “How can we be more charismatic in our community meetings?” following the line of one of our strategic priorities of the Sword of the Spirit.
We thank the Lord for the blessing of community life and for the gift He has given us to be able to worship Him. We ask the Lord to give us the grace to do our part and to enjoy the portion he has given us.
Juan C. Aragon is a member of the Arbol de Vida Community in San Jose, Costa Rica and currently serves as the regional worship music servant in the Iberoamerican Region.