Timing is right for new worship coordinator
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
John Frederick, the new worship coordinator and assistant professor in the Center for Worship Arts at Grand Canyon University, is making a habit of being in the right place at the right time.
A little more than two years ago, he was teaching ancient Greek and working on his Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland, when an important international theological conference came to the little town.
Before it was over, Frederick was asked if he wanted to help edit a new book on Pauline theology — the study of the teaching and doctrine of the apostle Paul through his writing, which encompasses many of the books in the New Testament. Frederick had never tackled an editing project of that magnitude.
“I told them, ‘I’m really busy,’” he said. “I almost said no.”
But Frederick eventually said yes, and the book, “Galatians and Christian Theology,” is due to be released Tuesday, Sept. 16. (Preorder it here.) In it, a group of top Christian scholars explains how Galatians relates to theology and ethics.
“It was a great project to work on,” he said. “It’s some of the most cutting-edge work on Paul from different theological perspectives.”
Frederick left St. Andrews during the project and returned to his native Massachusetts, and one year into his teaching role at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, from which he earned a master’s degree, summa cum laude, in Divinity in 2010, he saw an ad for GCU’s new Center for Worship Arts. The Center needed a worship coordinator.
“I thought, ‘This is crazy. This would be a great role,’” he said.
Frederick sent in his resumé, and when Dr. Jason Hiles, dean of the College of Theology, saw it, his reaction was along the lines of, “This is crazy. This is a great candidate.”
What a crazy coincidence.
“I would say we found John by the grace of God,” Hiles said. “We realized early on that we were looking for a unique set of characteristics. We were trying to do a lot with one hire. When we saw John’s credentials, we all thought the same thing: ‘Is this guy for real?’”
Frederick’s background includes a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, knowledge of six languages, professional songwriting, certified teacher and considerable experience as a worship leader and music director at several Boston-area churches, including Park Street Church, which opened in 1804.
When he arrived at GCU, he saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a worship arts program that aims to be historic, too.
“I was floored by the campus and the people I met in the College of Theology,” he said. “I thought, ‘I really want to work with these people.’ I knew right way I wanted to work with Bart Millard (director of the Center for Worship Arts) and the deans (Hiles, Claude Pensis of the College of Fine Arts and Production and Dr. Randy Gibb of the College of Business) to design a curriculum for the program.
“In that sense, it’s almost pastoral with the people who are here. It’s like the building of a community rather than superstars. This is a cultivation of a community and makes us more like Jesus.”
Frederick arrived on campus in early June, and his wife, Tara, and 1-year-old son, Liam, joined him two months later. They quickly acclimated to the pace of Phoenix and “love the sun,” he said. He also finds it “kind of cool to have a car” after living without one in St. Andrews and Boston.
Working on “Galatians and Christian Theology” was more than kind of cool, according to Frederick. One of the other editors, N.T. Wright, has a doctorate from the University of Oxford, is a former bishop, a research professor of the New Testament and early Christianity at St. Andrews, and, according to Frederick, “one of the greatest living scholars of the New Testament.”
While Frederick was at St. Andrews, considered the “home of golf,” several of his colleagues played a round with Wright, but Frederick wasn’t among them. Alas, he never has played anything beyond the miniature variety — although he’ll have you know he has a few holes-in-one to his credit.
Instead, he’s focused on teeing up the new program at GCU. And he certainly is once again in the right place at the right time.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.