Pepperdine Spiritual Life Leaders and Musicians Debut Worship Video Playlist
In a collaborative effort between the Office of the Chaplain, Seaver College Student Ministries, The Well, and Well Collective, Pepperdine University has debuted a worship video playlist featuring seven videos performed by four bands recorded over two days in fall 2020. With videography from MustB Productions, the playlist is now publicly available on YouTube.
“I hope that this serves as a mobile worship experience. God is not limited by space or time, and I believe he still draws us together as community, even if we are worshipping through these videos at different times and in different places,” says Taylor Begert, founder and chief executive officer of Well Collective, an independent company of worship artists who write and release music for the church and lead worship sessions, often partnering with local congregations and faith-based communities. Begert organized all four bands featured in the videos, selected and assigned the combination of familiar and new music, and led the rehearsals while participating in each band as a guitarist and vocalist. Jacob Williams (’16), lead audio engineer at Well Collective, worked with a production team who dedicated more than 100 hours editing and mixing the audio, piecing together the video into engaging shots that are both worshipful and artistically crafted.
“We envision the videos as a means of building community across all Pepperdine constituents, especially after receiving positive feedback from alumni who graduated up to 40 years ago,” explains Sara Barton, University chaplain. “Our programs train students for ministry leadership in the church after graduation, so the student ministry leaders and alumni who participated in the videos were able to practice their skills and worship together during production, which also allowed them to serve fellow students from afar.”
Rachel Collins, assistant director of student ministries and adjunct professor at Seaver College who oversees Celebration Chapel, Word Up, and Koinonia Campus Mission, partnered with University administrators to enforce COVID-19 safety measures in accordance with Los Angeles County guidelines for production crews. With the many weeks Collins spent collaborating with staff, students, and alumni, she hopes that these videos offer audiences a healing and unifying experience during a time of turmoil.
“Right now the University community is spread across the globe, and this music is a focal point for the worshipping community that we all remember and love. It is my hope that viewers would be encouraged, not only by the worship experience itself, but by seeing our undergraduates lead worship at such a level of excellence,” Collins shares. “Our students often go on to pursue careers in music or ministry, so viewers are getting a window into the formative years of these future worship leaders and ministers. I hope their peers will be reminded of the worship they experience on campus when they view these videos and will be drawn, ultimately, into the presence of God.”
Lily Piekos, Celebration Chapel director of ministry and integrated marketing communications major, shares Collins’ sentiments. “In my experience, there is nothing that fuses together the Pepperdine community more than worshipping with our brothers and sisters through both joyful and trying times,” she says. While COVID-19 prevention methods discouraged close contact between band members, Piekos recalls feeling renewed and rejuvenated during the handful of takes of each performance. “After being away from worshipping in community for so long, I realized how we are inherently designed for it. My soul was refreshed in a way that I hadn't felt since last being in community together.”
Justin Chai, a vocalist and acoustic guitarist who lent his talents to the videos, points out that throughout Christian history, worship has always unified the church. During a time when in-person gatherings are highly discouraged, and in some cases against the law, the Seaver College senior reveals that this was the first and only time he participated in a group worship service since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last spring. Without in-person meetings, the musicians also had to rehearse their parts at home, which Chai says is challenging when performing with a full band.
“Holding my guitar and singing songs just reminded me how much of an honor it is to lead worship for God. Singing praises with my brothers and sisters became such a privilege that I will never take for granted again because now I know what it feels like to have this gift taken away,” he says. “It is difficult for some people to feel comfortable worshipping alone, but I hope that through these videos, they can see familiar faces worshipping with them and that God will use this experience to soften the many hearts that have become hardened during this grueling pandemic."