Performing on the Spirituality stage at the 2015 Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, N.C., Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminarian Rebecca Stevens encourages children of all ages to experience well-loved hymns and stories with new insights.
“My work with children is centered around how we think about music in the church and the words that we say in our songs,” she says. “I do a lot of study of songs—old songs that we used to sing, that we love, that are in our Christian heritage and history. I work with those songs to rethink them, reappropriate them or maybe to decide that they should be put on the shelf and are just a part of history now.”
She says composing new songs to illustrate biblical themes is part of this work. “I also write songs to bring in new voices for what we can be thinking about the world and, if you will, the kingdom of God.”
The native of Lenoir, N.C., and a cradle Presbyterian, moved to New York three years ago and began working with children at First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, where she soon found herself drawn to attend Union Theological Seminary.
“I felt like I needed a framework to talk to children about love and justice and some of the things in the world that aren’t so easy to talk about,” she says. “So I decided that seminary and ministry was the way to go.”
Stevens was at the festival with her boyfriend Zachary Walter, a liturgist at St. Lydia’s, an ELCA-sponsored Dinner Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., for two performances. Stevens assists with music at St. Lydia’s as well.
Excerpts of the interview with Stevens, along with sections of her live performances at Wild Goose, are found in the following video segment.