Who Should Attend a UA Songwriting Retreat

by Jenn Thye

I don’t really think of myself as a songwriter…

I am a visual artist and a homemaker. In my life, I have probably written an average of about two songs a year. Sometimes those songs were able to be shared and sung with others, but most of them were personal songs that I used during my devotional times. I am not a performer so it has been difficult to teach a song to someone who would be able to move the song along for me, to a place where it could be shared. All of the songs I have written have been short, simple, Christian songs either based on scripture or on elements of the Lutheran or Anglican liturgy.

In the middle of the summer of 2014, I saw an advertisement for the first ever United Adoration songwriting retreat, a retreat focused on the writing of specifically liturgical songs. It sounded pretty cool to me, and I figured I would find a friend or two from my liturgical church and we could road trip the 1000 miles to the event. As the time drew near I realized that other interested people from my church were not going to be able to attend so I had to decide: would I go to this thing by myself? Me, who has no specific songwritng training? As just a humble and purposely background member of my church’s rotating praise band, did I really have the right to go hang out with a bunch of real musicians and church music leaders? I was nervous but I truly felt that God was urging me to go.

I bought plane ticket to Chicago; I went all by myself. My worries were assuaged as soon as I stepped through the big doors of Cornerstone Church and was greeted by the friendly ear-to-ear grin of one of the retreat organizers, Justin Clifton. The retreat was a small gathering of friendly creative people who simply wanted to serve God with music – people who wanted to help write fresh new liturgical music. These were brothers and sisters in the faith who were open to collaboration, ready to give and receive useful feedback, and happy to share contact information for future collaboration and feedback.The retreat opened and closed with worship; we all left with more enthusiasm and courage to follow our callings.

I flew home with a new attitude toward songwriting. When I got back to my church I discovered someone else in my church who wanted to develop her songwriting talents as well; the two of us began to meet regularly to discuss songwriting, share new song ideas, and encourage each other along the songwriting path. We both wrote a lot of new songs! I was also glad to keep in contact with retreat members for the mutual sharing of new music. God had led me onto the path that was scary and uncomfortable but by being obedient, I was able to enjoy the unique and uplifting experience of a songwriting retreat. If you are thinking you might benefit from attending, I would encourage you to trust God and take that step. You will be glad that you did.

Listen & Download

Click the link below to check out “Forgiven and Loved”. Read the story of the first UA Retreat and download the songs.