New Bible and arts faculty member coordinates Lipscomb’s first gospel choir
Aaron Howard appointed assistant professor of ethics, reconciliation
Janel Shoun-Smith | 615.966.7078 |
Lipscomb University’s College of Bible & Ministry and George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts have appointed Aaron Howard assistant professor of ethics and reconciliation.
Howard began his appointment in August, teaching graduate courses in the Hazelip School of Theology and undergraduate courses in the CEA’s worship arts program, as well as organizing and leading the university’s first gospel choir, which has garnered 30 student members in its first semester of existence.
“Dr. Howard is a man who brings a rare combination of three things: top-level Bible and theology training, expertise and long experience in worship ministry, and a passionate commitment to Christ,” said Leonard Allen, dean of the College of Bible & Ministry. “That commitment to Christ is woven throughout Dr. Howard’s background as both educator and minister. I am thrilled that he is joining the Lipscomb faculty.”
Prior to his appointment at Lipscomb, Howard served as director of diversity, community and inclusion for the lower, middle and upper schools at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville. He has also been on faculty at Tom Bradley Elementary School in Los Angeles, Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Vanderbilt Divinity School. In addition to his educational experience, he has served as worship minister at a number of congregations across the country.
Howard holds a Ph.D. in religion, ethics and society from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Arts in theological studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts in counselor education, school counseling and guidance services from San Diego State University and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Christian education at its best doesn’t just teach to inform minds but seeks to transform our loves,” said Howard. “We can become so academic in our theological pursuits that we can talk about Jesus without really knowing who he is. God gives us our minds for reflection and cognition and also calls us into worship and deep communion with him.”
The gospel choir will offer Lipscomb students a new avenue to engage God in that worship, said Howard.
“It is important that this form of music be represented in a Christian education because it is a powerful form of worship that can help deepen one's relationship with God. The passion and emotion required for singing gospel well invites a kind of vulnerability that often leads one to surrender to the Holy Spirit,” said Howard.
Additionally, like jazz, gospel music is a quintessentially American musical art form that emerges from the black experience, except this expression was birthed in the Church, he said.
“Many of the musicians that accompany some of the most well-known singers started playing in church. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members like Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and Whitney Houston, all began their careers singing in church. Having this music at Lipscomb puts students in touch with one of the most beloved and globally successful styles of music,” he said.
The gospel choir made its Lipscomb debut this fall with performances at various Lipscomb worship services and events. The response from students so far has been enthusiastic, Howard said.
“The response has been amazing. We've had many students inquiring about being a part of it, and our numbers have already grown since then,” he said.
The choir offers Lipscomb students a new way to engage with each other and with God, Howard said.
“I am passionate about the multi-cultural church and I believe music is one of the best ways to build community,” he said.
“We start rehearsal each week with a student sharing thoughts from Scripture. Then we sing a worship song together before we even rehearse. Our chaplain, Ashlynn Perry, takes prayer requests so she can pray for students. We laugh a whole lot, and have really grown to love being around each other. My goal is that students feel that the choir represents the best of what Christian community should be. We are multiethnic, with students from different socioeconomic and regional backgrounds, and yet we are one body united by the blood of Christ.”
If you are interested in booking the Lipscomb gospel choir for a performance in the coming semester, reach out to Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2019, Lipscomb launched the worship arts degree. It is designed for students with dreams of becoming a worship minister in a church, touring artist, worship songwriter or who wish to be part of the team that helps with the technical aspect of worship gatherings. This program facilitates opportunities for students to learn from professionals in the worship arts industry and will provide them with experiences that will be a platform for them to begin their careers in worship.
Lipscomb’s College of Bible & Ministry offers undergraduate degrees in children’s ministry, theology and ministry, vocational ministry, worship arts (joint program with the CEA), Greek and Hebrew. Its Hazelip School of Theology, one of the only two schools in Middle Tennessee that is fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, offers a Master of Arts degree in Christian ministry, a Master of Divinity in theology, a Master of Theological Studies and a Doctor of Ministry degree.