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Liberty News

Vertical, Elevation Worship help Liberty Worship Collective prepare for ministry

August 25, 2017 : By Drew Menard/Liberty University News Service

Lance Gatch of Elevation Worship works with a Liberty Worship Collective member during a rehearsal. (Photos by Kaitlyn Becker Johnson)Members of Vertical Worship and Elevation Worship, nationally known church songwriters and worship bands, helped lead a week of training for the Liberty Worship Collective as it prepares for another year of ministering on campus and across the nation.

“It has been challenging but it’s a week of growth,” said senior Benjamin Watts, a new member of the Collective. “This week was so fast-paced and you are with musicians of a different caliber, but yet, their overflow of Christ is so amazing. Within the challenge there is spiritual growth as well. It has been amazing to see the fruit of our labor.”

The training week has involved messages from the professional musicians as well as Q and A and songwriting sessions. On top of the conference-esque experience, Collective members have been practicing incessantly as they work to perfect more than 50 different songs they will perform as they lead worship at a number of campus events, as well as at conferences, youth events, festivals, churches, and other venues across the country. The Liberty Worship Collective is made up of 45 student worship leaders, songwriters, and musicians who are handpicked after an intense audition process.

Acoustic guitar in hand, senior Benjamin Watts (center) rehearses with fellow members of the Liberty Worship Collective.According to Sam Vazquez, a senior songwriting major now in her third year on the Collective, about half of the team are new faces.

“The team is more diverse, we have a lot of new people coming in,” she said. “It is fun to see new people coming in to kind of take our places when we leave. It didn’t hit me that I am one of the older people until I saw all of the new people. The transition has not felt like a moment of, ‘Whoa, you have made it. You are a leader now.’ It was more gradual.”

Vazquez said that the Collective’s annual training camp is always beneficial, but this year it was uniquely impactful.

“I think it is awesome to have people who have done worship ministry with excellence come and pour into us,” she said. “Ultimately, that is the level we are trying to achieve as far as songwriting, vocally, musically. I love having people who are experts pour into us.”

Andi Rozier, a pastor of worship with the Chicago-based Vertical Worship, led one session that resonated with Vazquez as a budding worship leader and songwriter.

“He cares for people; he made me feel I was understood,” Vazquez said. “(Because his journey with worship has been so long), I felt like he was someone who was able to say, ‘I’ve been through the rough parts, I’m on the other side, and I’m still learning.’ That was encouraging to know he’s still learning.”

Kyle Fredricks of Vertical Worship (left) chats with Judd Harris of the Liberty Worship Collective.As the Collective continues to grow its songwriting culture — it has already produced an original single, called “Run,” with the help of Phil Wickham — Vazquez said she looks forward to how that will impact the student body. She believes that original songs have the opportunity to resonate more deeply with an audience that the group is closer to.

As the training draws to an end, Watts looks forward to catching up on some rest before classes begin Monday.

“We continually pour out into people,” he said. “This week is that time for us to fill up so we can overflow into the student body throughout the semester.”

“I just hope that we grow closer to the students and that we have more trust as we continue to authentically lead people,” Vazquez added. “This is what we are passionate about. I want the student body to love worship and to see Jesus through it and through us (as we experience Jesus together).”

The Liberty Worship Collective released its first album last semester. The album is available on Spotify and iTunes, as well as at Liberty’s bookstore and during Worship Collective events. A music video for the original song “Run” will release early in the Fall 2017 semester.

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