by Rebecca Shasberger, Credo’s new Outreach Coordinator and Artist-in-Residence
It’s a familiar story for many of Credo’s younger students: there I was, a somewhat awkward 14-year old, nervously flying across the country to
a town called Oberlin for a summer music program I knew little about. It didn’t take long to figure out that I had nothing to be nervous about. I was quickly put at ease by the caring counselors and faculty, not to mention the somewhat awkward classical-music loving friends I made from day one. I had a great time that first summer at Credo, as well as my second, studying chamber music with new friends, singing hymns in four part harmony during Morning Sing, doing various service projects around town, and playing hours of ultimate frisbee. But it wasn’t until I returned as a counselor – twice – as a college student that I really understood what Credo is. Yes, it’s a summer program. But it’s so much more than that.
Credo’s mission – Develop, Acknowledge Respond – embodies a way of thinking about life and the world, a way of being as a musician and a person. Though Credo’s duration appears fixed and limited on a calendar it is in reality endless when understood as a catalyst for shaping one’s perspective. What is my purpose as a person of Christian faith? What does that mean for my musical abilities and aspirations? How is God calling me to use my musical gifts for the sake of His Kingdom? These are the sorts of questions that Credo both invites students to ask and helps them answer through the work that is done and the community that is formed. These questions far outlast a summer experience, however, and offer a foundation for a lifetime of meaningful work.
Between my summers at Credo I attended other prominent musical festivals across the continent, and went on to graduate school at a leading music conservatory The pursuit of musical excellence in these places was exhilarating and vital to my development as a musician, but I was bothered by the dichotomy between musical achievement or “success” and the reality of the world’s desperate problems. Over the years I’ve caught glimpses of where these two can intersect though, and it’s sometimes in the most unlikely of places: a homeless shelter in Southern California, outside a crumbling art gallery in Spain, anthems of freedom played for those formerly oppressed in Hungary, a collaboration with young rappers in an impoverished Cleveland neighborhood.
It’s been more than ten years since my first summer at Credo and I still have questions about what it means to pursue my faith and my music in meaningful ways. That’s one of the reasons why I am so excited to have recently joined the Credo team as its first Outreach Coordinator/Artist-in-Residence. I can’t imagine a better way to continue the journey I started here as a student – a journey of following Jesus with my whole self, music and all, trusting that He’ll show me what that looks like. Over the next two years I’ll be planning and executing a whole range of performances and outreach activities, each guided by the “Develop, Acknowledge, Respond” mission of Credo Whatever your relationship with Credo may be, I hope you’ll join me on the larger “Credo journey” of pursuing your gifts and serving others, guided by a thoughtful engagement with your faith.