North Parkers Take Part in Global AIDS Conference

Global AIDS Summit

LAKE FOREST, CA (December 10, 2007) -- Several members of the North Park University community helped lead worship at the recent Global AIDS Conference that attracted thousands of people from around the world to Saddleback Church.

Leading two of the worship services held during the three-day conference November 28-30 were Matt Lundgren, who also has led the CHIC band and music at the Covenant Midwinter Pastors Conferences; Sherrie Jones, worship leader at Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota; North Park student Sharon Irving; Brian Wu, former university ministries worship and arts coordinator; Stephen Kelly, current university ministries worship and arts coordinator; and Tom Egler, drummer for the CHIC band.

They were enlisted to help after Lundgren, who is the director of worship for the Willow Creek Church campuses, had spoken with his counterpart at Saddleback. Both thought it would be good for them to team up for the conference.

Lundgren called on his fellow musicians in the worship band Foster — named for the street that runs in front of North Park — as well as others to participate. Lundgren also leads the CHIC worship band, and two members of that group also led the music: drummer Tom Engler and vocalist Alisha Thomas, who also is the worship leader at Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minn. CHIC is the national triennial youth event sponsored by the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Many of the people attending the conference had no formal faith commitment, Lundgren says, so he was surprised when he heard them repeatedly say that the church is the only organization in the world that can dramatically make a difference in fighting the AIDS pandemic. "It's one thing to hear it from church leaders, but it's another to hear from people outside the church."

Lundgren adds that hearing those words "challenged me more than I wanted to be challenged. You feel the weight of responsibility."

The passion and framework for action lain out by Saddleback pastor Rick Warren inspired Kelly, strengthening his belief that worship involves more than music. "It's getting involved and reaching out," he explains.

The worship team was among a select group of people who had all-access passes to the event, which can falsely elevate a person’s sense of their own importance, Lundgren says. The Secret Service, which was in charge of protecting Senator Hillary Clinton when she spoke, was the great equalizer. The agents entered the room where the band kept its equipment and told everyone to leave the room while they did their inspections. "Suddenly you become very unimportant," Lundgren says, laughing.