Rockin’ with reverence


Jana L. Haas

Newsboys. DC Talk. Jars of Clay. The sounds of contemporary Christian music have infiltrated the college scene.

Many churches in Brookings are adding contemporary services to their listings. While traditional hymns and worship rituals are still enjoyed by many, the new sound appeals to many college students.

The University Lutheran Center (ULC) uses contemporary music for its Sunday morning worship and Sunday evening praise service.

The ULC has always used contemporary music according to Intern Pastor Daniel Taylor.

“The use of contemporary music (tunes and rhythms of the present day) allows the church to connect a 2000-year-old message with the people in the present day,” Taylor said.

Denise Watt, a Journalism major from White, SD, sings with the six-member ULC group. Watt, now a sophomore, joined the group as a freshman.

“I thought it would be a really neat way to get involved with the church on campus,” she said.

Music has been a part of Watt’s life for many years. She sings at thechurch in her hometown, which just started using contemporary music.

She expects to continue her involvement in music for the rest of her life.

“I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s hard not to after so many years of being involved. I think it’s something good and fun to be involved in,” she said.

Watt said churches are organizing more contemporary music to appeal to the younger generation.

“I think people enjoy it, it’s a change to something a little more informal, a little more relaxed and that makes a difference. Some people don’t like the traditional music, so we have the more contemporary side,” Watt said.

Navigators, a campus ministry group, also offers a contemporary Christian music vibe to its worships.

The Navigators band does praise and worship songs, but also kicks in some distortion to get people going. The group recently got new equipment and is upgrading the music they put out.

With new access to drums and the addition of more singers, the group is “getting more established. I think it’s drawing more people,” Ed Ballou, electric guitarist for the Navigators group.

Ballou, a computer science major who lives in Brookings, said the group does songs that were contemporary four years ago when he became a Christian.

The group is also adding songs that are currently being played on Christian radio all over the US.

“I think as far as Navigators goes, adding contemporary music does a lot, younger people identify with the music,” Ballou said.

“I think it provides a link to the younger generation. It’s like literature in that if you go back and look at Dickens and Tolstoy, it’s great writing,” he said.

“Now there are more updates and there is a lot of playing around with words and new ways to say things. Music is the same in that there are new ways to play your instrument. I think that’s the connection with people now as contemporary music applies to their lives and the way they’re feeling,” he said.

Ballou said he “likes to go where the music is good” and has been playing guitar for almost two years. Before he started playing, he was penning poems that he wanted to eventually turn into songs.

He plans to stay involved with music and would like to see where his writing can lead.

Ballou said he volunteers to use his talents as a musician through the words of “A Beautiful Town” by the Newsboys. “It’s a beautiful sound, moving through the crowd, voices lifted up on high for You. It’s a beautiful song, “we’ve only just begun to understand.”