Local Ministries, Musicians Unite for Worthy ’19
By Grace Choi, Cornell ’22
Loud echoes of worship could be heard from Barnes Hall on Saturday, March 9, as a crowd gathered for Worthy ’19, a campus and community-wide effort that drew musicians, singers, artists, and performers from Cornell University, Ithaca College, local churches, and community organizations during the Lent season.
Jazz musician and visiting lecturer Joe Salzano organized the unique, multimedia worship night.
This year’s event, titled “Song of Salvation,” featured a mini-orchestra, a brass ensemble, members of Christian Union and Cru’s worship teams, and two of Cornell’s a cappella groups: Measureless A Cappella and Baraka Kwa Wimbo Gospel Ensemble. The event was sponsored by Campus On A Hill, Cornell Worship Workshop, and the Cornell Department of Music and was well attended by students.
Worthy ’19 traced the timeline of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming.
“The whole point [of Worthy] was to recreate, to the best of our ability, the image of all God’s people worshipping,” said Nancy Ren ’19. “We were worshipping not only through music, but through dance, poetry, plays, and of course, readings of the Word.”
It was a night of powerful, heartfelt worship and prayer that brought many together to celebrate the Lord and all that He has done. Sophomore Olivia Simoni stated, “The Holy Spirit was in the room. There was dancing, weeping, awe, and surrender. This wasn’t a performance for an audience. This was a choir of praise for the King of Kings.”
Geoff Sackett, Christian Union’s ministry director at Cornell, said, “It was wonderful to gather with a wide swath of students and other members of the Christian community to worship the Righteous One who saves and reigns. The name of our great God was lifted high in Scripture, song, music, banners, and dance. I suspect our community was strengthened in mission and witness because of it.”
Worthy ’19 was organized by Joe Salzano, a music teacher and jazz saxophonist for the university who runs a Worship Workshop for students. The workshop helps students foster a deeper connection with God through music and helps equip, train, and release worshippers to serve in local campus ministry and in churches. Sophomore Kaitlyn Blake stated, “Working with Joe and learning how to welcome the Holy Spirit—and fully allowing Him to work—is the epitome of Worship Workshop.”
Salzano stated, “I believe the Worthy Worship concerts were born in God’s heart. It branched out of Worship Workshop into an annual celebration, bringing together campus ministries. My desire was to create a unique, multimedia expression of orchestra, worship band, choir, rap, dance, drama, Scripture, and visual arts.”
Iyaniwura Olepaju ’20, a member of the a cappella group Baraka Kwa Wimbo Gospel Ensemble, stated, “I had a lot of fun watching the skits and solos from the back corner of the stage, but I also had an awesome view of the audience. People were laughing, dancing, crying—all of it really touched me and gave me a clear reminder of why God calls us to unite as a body. I left filled with peace, joy, and appreciation for God and His people.”
Sophia Jeon ’21 was thankful for the individual and corporate blessing of Worthy ’19.
“God moved so mightily in His people’s hearts that night,” she said. “There was a sense of unity amongst believers of all ages and backgrounds. I felt so grateful to have witnessed heaven come down on this campus in such a special way during this Lent season.”