NORTH CHARLESTON—The three institutes that led into the Archbishop James Patterson Lyke Conference were mostly a warm up, but for some, they were the main event.
Noreen Wall, a member of St. Jude Church in Sumter, said she came to the conference specifically for the music institute developed by the late Father Clarence J. Rivers.
She was lucky enough to hear Father Rivers’ program years ago at her church and was thrilled to have a chance for a refresher course, she said. She hoped to find some new songs and ideas.
“I’m in the choir, and we need to change things up a bit,” Wall said.
Father Rivers helped pioneer the integration of black sacred music into Catholic liturgy through compositions that blended Negro spirituals with Gregorian chant. His first piece, “God is Love” received a 10-minute standing ovation.
This is the stuff choirs dream about.
More than 50 people crowded into the room to listen to hymns and speakers, who explained how all the elements of Mass must work together.
“God wants the music to move you, not just to fall out, but to get up and do his bidding,” said Father David Jones, one of the speakers.
The Clarence Rivers Institute was led by Richard A. Cheri and his co-members in the Good Ground musical group.
Cheri is director of liturgy and music at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in New Orleans.
The other two institutes were new to the conference this year.
The Sacred Dance Institute was hosted by Ayisha Morgan-Lee, founder of Hill Dance Academy Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pa.
About 10 youth and adults participated June 23. They talked about liturgical dance ministry as another form of worship, and ways to praise God in dance through respectful movement.
“Liturgical dance is all about giving honor, praise and glory to God,” Morgan-Lee said.
It is still a new form of praise and can be a touchy subject among parishioners. Morgan-Lee advised those who want to start a group at their church to be respectful of the congregation’s feelings.
She led the dancers through a variety of exercises, such as reading passages from the Bible and then interpreting the meaning through movement.
Next door, the Arusi Marriage Institute provided a two-day training course that attracted a number of church leaders. Arusi is Kiswahili for marriage celebration.
It was led by Andrew and Terri Lyke, who created the Arusi Network and have been a guiding force in marriage ministry for the African-American Catholic community of Chicago since 1982.
Mr. Lyke is the nephew of Archbishop Lyke, for whom the conference is named.
He said the Catholic Church is good at marriage preparation, but the focus is the couple, and they wanted something that would target the whole community. The couple said they concentrate on the African-American community, but the message is for everyone.
“Data shows black families are spiraling down,” Mr. Lyke said. “The very thing they need is understanding of Catholic teaching.”
Kathy Schmugge, assistant director of the family life office, attended the institute. She said the Lykes had wonderful ideas on strengthening marriages and creating a more marriage-friendly community.
The leaders of each institute also held sessions on their respective specialties during the conference.
See related article: Lyke conference celebrates the black Catholic community