MVNU music groups minister through song on European Tour
May 25-June 8, 2010, MVNU's Collegians Chorale and Chamber Winds were engaged in a life-changing mission/concert experience on the Eurasia region. The group of 53 partnered with Pastors Ludwig Duncker in Gottmadingen, Germany, and European Nazarene University in Büsingen; and Pastor Daniel Fink in Florence, Italy. This is the sixth such ministry trip to Europe organized by Collegians Director Dr. Robert Tocheff.
Photos (Photos by Diana Tocheff)
Video (Video by Diana Tocheff)
Mozart – Salzburg; Duncker – Gottmadingen; Fink – Florence…
This article may have begun with a familiar pairing, but only more informed readers may recognize the other connections. The most recent of those would be Collegians Chorale (Robert Tocheff, director) and Chamber Winds (John Packard, director) from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
People with Purpose
May 25-June 8, 2010, these music ensembles were engaged in a life-changing mission/concert experience on the Eurasia region. The group of 53 was composed of 35 members of Collegians Chorale including four alumni, 11 members of Chamber Winds (woodwind and brass groups), two directors and spouses, pastor and spouse, two administrators, two retired laymen, a tour manager and bus driver—all partnering with Pastors Ludwig Duncker in Gottmadingen, Germany, and European Nazarene University in Büsingen; and Pastor Daniel Fink in Florence, Italy. This is the sixth such ministry trip to Europe organized by Tocheff.
He shares his vision and goal for these trips: “The purpose of the mission/concert trips abroad is to allow the MVNU students to use their talents and what they learn in the classroom/rehearsal to minister to people in another culture, to expand their concept of outreach beyond familiar surroundings, and to see how God is working in the Church of the Nazarene in other parts of the world. Indeed it is a goal to provide our churches with a musical concert or service to which visitors can enter their doors, after which follow up can occur to win them to Christ. A trip with only sightseeing and concertizing might have academic value, but allowing the students to share musically and give personal testimonies with Kingdom-building in mind fulfills MVNU’s motto, ‘To seek to learn is to seek to serve.’”
Austria, Germany, and Switzerland
Collegians and Chamber Winds arrived in Salzburg on May 26 and had the opportunity to share the gospel in song to a receptive crowd at the famous Salzburg Dom. After some sightseeing in beautiful Salzburg, a tour of a salt mine and Eagle’s Nest, the group made its way to the European Nazarene College area, and met our host Rev. Ludwig Duncker. Before the groups’ ministry engagements, Duncker took them to a magnificent fortress on Friday, then to the beautiful medieval city of Stein am Rhine on Saturday. Later on Saturday, May 29, Collegians Chorale and Chamber Winds provided a celebratory service of praise, worship and testimony to the EuNC community held at the Evangelische Kirche Büsingen, Kreuzkirche, a Lutheran Church close to the EuNC campus. This was followed by a beautiful time of fellowship and food with this church body and the campus community.
On Sunday, the groups had a full day of ministry beginning at the Gottmadingen Church of the Nazarene, then at the Neuhausen, Switzerland, Church of the Nazarene with a short excursion to the Rhine Falls in the afternoon. These services were, again, marked by praise and testimony to congregations of both familiar faces as well as many visitors. Both services were followed by meaningful times of fellowship and refreshments. One very memorable part of the Gottmadingen service was a sequence where Collegians and Chamber Winds performed a beautiful arrangement called “My Lord’s Prayer” followed by the entire congregation reciting The Lord’s Prayer in their own language. This included at least German, English, Spanish and Dutch, and probably more. Unforgettable!
Pastor Duncker reflects, “As Pastor, I was also glad that our people in all three churches made very good use of this opportunity to invite guests and friends to the service. I have received several comments about the liveliness and joyful experience in our worship service which, in our culture, is a high compliment. As you maybe know, the Nazarene Church as a free church, in contrast to the state church, is always looked at with a certain suspicion and apprehension. Your presence and performance has shown to the people in the village, what kind of believers we are and you have contributed to an excellent reputation.”
Venice, Italy - St. Mark's, Scalzi Church
After a scenic ride through Switzerland, June 1-3 was spent in Venice, Italy. In addition to a tour and free time in this enchanting city including gondola rides, art museums and shopping, the ensembles had two memorable concert/ministry opportunities. They provided the music at a mass at St. Mark’s cathedral. It was incredible to perform where the Gabrielis and so many other masters have influenced the world of music so significantly. The music history buffs among the readers will appreciate the thrill of performing the Schütz antiphonal, double choir piece “I Am the Resurrection and the True Life” in this cathedral noted for this style.
The groups also gave a full concert at Chiesa Degli Scalzi. The concert at this beautiful Baroque church was marked by an extremely receptive audience—not only to the music, but to the message of Christ. After a rousing performance of Charles Wesley’s “And Can It Be” (Emily Smith soloist), the priest immediately got Dr. Tocheff’s attention and said, “Please, you must sing that again at the end,” which of course was done to the great pleasure of all. Tocheff reminds us, “Do not underestimate the power of proclaiming the gospel through music to a, perhaps, unsuspecting audience.”
Florence, Italy - Santo Stefano, Tent Service
June 3-6 was spent in Florence, Italy, hosted by Pastor Daniel Fink. Thursday night the groups presented a concert at the Santo Stefano Church close to the Ponte Vecchio bridge downtown. This church is known for excellent concerts attracting a discriminating crowd coming to hear good music from all over the world. The ensembles viewed this as another chance to share the message of Christ, and to again enjoy the beautiful acoustical properties of these magnificent churches.
After a wonderful excursion to Piza on Saturday, Collegians and Chamber Winds were privileged to participate in a tent evangelistic service. Pastor Fink and his congregation are partnering with the “Christ Is the Answer” organization to plant the seeds of the gospel with the aim to start a new church of the Nazarene in another part of Florence. Music and testimony along with a sermon by former MVNU vice president of Enrolment Dr. Bruce Oldham permeated the event with God’s love in a beautiful way. Daniel Fink shares the positive response of the “Christ Is the Answer” organization, “‘In 35 years of ministry in Italy, they never had such good quality of music.’” Besides, the music was blended by clear testimonies and excellent evangelistic sermon.”
Florence Church of the Nazarene
Sunday morning was an incredible time of worship at the Florence Church of the Nazarene on Toscanini Street. The church was packed with church members, visitors and the MVNU ensembles. The spirit of God filled the room as music and testimonies were proclaimed. A powerful sermon was shared by Dr. Bob Mahaffey, vice chairman of the MVNU Board of Trustees, who, along with his wife Elaine (both Collegians alumni), traveled and sang with Collegians Chorale the entire trip. At one point in the service, the entire congregation along with Collegians and Chamber Winds lifted our voices in praise and worship songs in our own language. The knowledge that the mixture of languages, combined with the beautiful and sincere expressions of praise through music was being clearly received by our Lord and Savior was overwhelming indeed! The service, also, was followed with a meal and fellowship with the church youth. In addition, many of the MVNU students stayed to worship with the Spanish congregation that meets on Sunday afternoon at the same church.
The ministry in Florence was truly blessed by the Lord, as Pastor Fink explains: “All this wrapped up together has left a beautiful testimony in our church and city. In all the concerts we had new people attending for the first time, and it will be easier to have them back in church. It is really difficult to find the right words to say thank you for all the investment and sacrifices you've done in order to travel such a long way to show us your love and partner with us in the expansion of the Kingdom of God in Italy.”
Rome and Home
Monday, the last day of the trip, was a whirlwind sightseeing experience in Rome. The group was able to tour the coliseum, the Roman Forum and Vatican City, including St. Peters Basilica. This life-changing trip met the goals of meaningful cultural exposure while fulfilling MVNU’s mission “To change the world with the love of Christ.”