“Arguably, the last year and a half has been the most challenging time in my life and ministry,” admits Rev. Amy Banka, Lead Pastor of Hopewell United Methodist Church in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
“In the midst of the global pandemic, the Church has entered into a wilderness time, during which the people of God have been stretched, divided, forced out of our comfort zones, confronted, and convicted. At the same time, the people of God have been invited to learn, grow, preserve, evolve, repent, and outwardly reflect the love of Jesus Christ to the world He came to save. Honestly, the journey is exhausting and wonderful.”
In order to balance those realities Banka and her team have drawn strength and inspiration from the Israelites, our biblical ancestors throughout the Exodus narrative.
“As they experienced God’s deliverance and freedom,” she says, “they had to trade the deeply familiar for the completely unknown — and so have we. As they moved from Egypt to the Promised Land, they dared to trust God for a hope-filled future—and so do we. And of course, none of that comes without a little bit of grumbling and a heartfelt praise song.”
As the Hopewell congregation walks through Exodus 15-20 together this fall, they’ll also be introducing original praise music, written by Banka and Jonathan Ruch, the Director of Contemporary Worship & Technology.
“Produced as an EP (“extended play” release) called “Exodus,” these four songs capture our collective wilderness experience and hope,” says Banka. They give voice to where we’ve been, what God has done and is doing in our midst, and how we long to come out the other side freer and more faithful than before.”
If you would like to learn more about these songs, or how to access their arrangements, email Jonathan@HopewellUMC.org. “In them and through them,” writes Banka, “may God be glorified and may the people of God be encouraged.”