A Beautiful Noise: Norwin’s Worship Team continues to multiply and divide as more are added to their number.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church Norwin is a small rural congregation set in the corner of a paddock, with nothing but farmland around it. So small is Norwin, that the 2016 Australian Census records its population at just 94 people.
Despite that, Bethlehem has a baptised membership of around 90-100 people, with at least 60 of those considered regular attenders. Amazingly, over a third of that number are in the worship team. On any given Sunday you could find up to 18 people playing or leading the singing, and that number has recently swelled to 23.
In fact the contingent of musicians has become so large that a roster has been made up, organising the group into five separate bands. And word about the musicians of Norwin is spreading: the “Norwin Crew” (Norwin’s mostly youth band) recently also led worship at the CLW camp at Highfields in the first weekend of the winter holidays.
Ken Schultz is pastor of both Norwin and Oakey parishes. “My wife Lyn and I are among the youngest at Oakey and among the oldest at Norwin,” he shares, smiling.
“I was telling the children about these five bands and was promptly corrected by a grade five girl. ‘Sorry Pastor Ken, there are seven bands!’ she said to me.
When I asked her what she meant, she told me that I’d forgotten to include the youth-only and combined bands in the count. It was like, ‘You need to get your facts right, Pastor Ken!'” he chuckles.
For Pastor Ken, there is no doubt where this gift is from. “I was telling the children on Pentecost Sunday that this musical gifting was from the Holy Spirit, like the outpouring of the Spirit on the artisans who decorated the tabernacle and did the furnishings in Exodus 31,” he explains.
There’s no containing the joy in Ken’s words as he shares how God has blessed the rural congregation. “My hope,” he says, “Is that the little story of the Musicians of Norwin encourages you as you go about your kingdom work.”