Stories

 

Wisconsin Council of Churches Forum with Brian McLaren 2013

     It was my honor and delight to design worship services for ecumenical church leaders from across the US and Canada who gathered to learn about respond faithfully to new realities as followers of Jesus. It was great fun seeing how the worship celebrations and Brian’s presentations riffed on and anticipated one another. We invited participants to join a pick up band and welcomed kids to lead, too. Leading worship for worship leaders can be intimidating, but the week was filled with moments of first time experiences and deepening connections.

"Susan Phillips provided creative and engaging worship leadership for us over four days at the Washington Island Forum this year, with over 250 pastors and lay leaders in attendance from 27 states. She is easy to work with , is ecumenically sensitive, and brings great energy and a strong grounding in the faith to worship.  I highly recommend her! "

--Rev. Scott Anderson, Executive Director, Wisconsin Council of Churches

 

Wild Goose Festival Sacred Space Coordinator 2012

     It was my joyful challenge to recruit and coordinate seven worship leaders who represented the breadth of spiritual experiences of the 2,000 folks gathered at this international festival. Wild Goose exists at the intersection of spirituality, justice, arts and music. These services included Episcopal lead Interplay/Embodied worship, a Quaker service, a Buddhist monk/Christian pastor; Southern-fried Bapticostal Misfits, Pick A Pocket -an international arts ministry that seeks to end extreme poverty, and Franciscan Liturgy of the Hours.

I curated one sacred space gathering with the Rev. Byron WadeLiving Water: Life, Death & Covenant considering the story of Hagar and Ishmael. 

 

Synod of Lakes and Prairies Worship Leader 2011

-- All My Relatives “Mitakuye Oyasin” is the Lakota phrase describing how all of creation is related, connected in the web of life. We are connected to the Communion of saints across time and space as well. Throughout a week of daily worship, the Rev. Mara Rivera and I lead Communion services in three entirely different ways, celebrated a wedding, a funeral and a renewal of baptism with music by adults, kids, bands, chimes, choirs, belly dancers, drama, kites, visual and installation art. Hans Peterson and Larry Olson, Dakota Road Music, joined the celebrations.

"All My Relatives" sermon is available.

    "Meeting God and seeing our neighbors as part of God's family were central themes while working with Susan for Synod School worship. Integrating multicultural voices throughout the services  was truly inspiring. Susan's vision and passion for worship opened the door for the inclusion of multiple voices and different styles and experiences of worship. Working with Susan was a real blessing. Creating inspirational worship was a team effort I will forever treasure." ~The Rev. Dr. Mara Rivera

Wild Goose Festival Sacred Space Curator 2011 -- Dirt, Breath & Redemption     What a delight it was to work with my beloved, Simon Levin, my kids and musically gifted and generous friends. We hauled 300 pounds of clay from Wisconsin to North Carolina that folks were given to shape and explore as we reflected on Genesis and how we are co-creators with God. We then reworked the clay and shared conversations aboutwhat the Holy is reworking in our lives as we listened to Jeremiah’s story about going to the potter’s house.  Chip Andrus, David LaMotte and Bryan McFarland lifted our voices with guitars and drumming.

Festival of Homiletics Worship Designer/Liturgist and Workshop Leader - 2009 & 2010

This Festival is one of the largest gatherings of preachers in the US. I was totally surprised in the winter of 2009 when the Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey (United Church of Canada) called to ask if I would plan and lead a service he was preaching in Atlanta. We began a creative, scholarly adventure through which I created a space of transformation through fire and water to Pentecost and Baptism for his sermon about tragic loss and spiritual rebirth. In 2010, I was surprised again when David Howell, Executive Director of the Festival, asked me to plan and lead the opening worship service in Nashville at which the Presiding Bishop of the African Methodist Epsicopal Church, the Rev. Vashti MacKenzie, preached, the First Baptist Nashville choir sang and 1300 preachers were invited to share how they draw from wells of living water to proclaim good news. For this service, we built a well with running water on the chancel from which I drew and poured water while proclaiming  I offered two Imago Divina workshops that week and created a worship service for the Episcopal Bishop of North Carolina, the Rev. Michael Curry, when John Bell was delayed by a volcano.    

 

Winnebago Presbytery’s Youth Camp Worship Leader 2006-present

I dreamed of a camp where our teens could befriend one another and discover how they might connect faith and life. We launched an event where all of that happens in play, ritual, reflection, meals, hikes and late nights. I have lead 30 minute worship gatherings for 50-80 kids and adults where they get to build and knock down, dig in dirt, throw rocks, sing LOUD, clap and dance, play any instrument, splash, listen & consider, pray for one another, and offer themselves as gifts. One year, we moved through the whole liturgical year in five days. One year, we celebrated the Reformation. One year we learned stories of our ancestors and told our own stories of faith and questions.