STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/09/2016

16,000 Stories Shared In Worship

by Heather Korpi, staff writer

In January 2015, Bryce Bachelder ’10 opened an email that charted his course for the year: an invitation to join the worship team for Urbana 2015, one of the largest student missions conferences in the world.

The selection process had started months earlier: first an international search, then nominations, followed by multiple rounds of auditions. 

Bryce’s vocal and guitar talent rose to the top. With 10 others he spent most of 2015 leading worship at InterVarsity conferences coast to coast, and rehearsing for the long-awaited Urbana conference in December in St. Louis.

“What’s it like to play music in the Edward Jones Dome—(R.I.P. St. Louis Rams)—in front of 16,000 people? I mean, that’s just not a normal thing that happens in life, let alone to a kid from backwoods Vermont,” he jokes. “We were definitely aware of the legacy we were stepping into as the Urbana 2015 worship team”—a legacy that has inspired hundreds of thousands to engage in global missions over the last 70 years.

“The Urbana worship experience is incredibly different than most because the goal is to lead multi-ethnic worship, which means being able to play in a ton of different worship styles and cultures,” Bryce explains. “At the audition, I nailed familiar worship music, and clumsily fumbled my way through playing gospel music for the first time. (What the heck is a B-flat-minor-seventh-augmented?!)”

Bryce reports that the experience brought a new understanding of multi-ethnic worship. “It’s really about entering into another’s story—it’s an invitation to share in a piece of someone’s own cultural identity as you seek Jesus together. It’s important that we don’t just stay where we’re comfortable. If we can’t stand next to others in their stories, we can’t fully love our neighbors, and we can’t fully love God.”

His year-long musical interlude was part of Bryce’s longer-term career with InterVarsity. He spent three years after Gordon planting the InterVarsity Fellowship at Salem State University (while also preaching regularly at a local church). After he and Lissy Vranjes ’13 married, they moved to their home state of Vermont, where Bryce is now on InterVarsity staff in Burlington, working primarily with Champlain College students. He also is launching IV’s Vermont rural justice summer program for students, and writes a column on faith and the community for a local newspaper. 

Bryce led the Chapel Band during his years as a Gordon communication arts major and biblical studies minor. “My time at Gordon played a big role in shaping me into the worship leader and minister that I am now,” he reflects. “I started to view worship as a lifestyle, not just the music portion of church. From Gordon’s foundation, InterVarsity furthered my development, helping me to see that worship is not just a lifestyle, but also a means of seeking justice and reconciliation through multi-ethnic worship.”