Musician David Bailey is out to change the way US evangelical churches approach worship music. For Bailey and his organization, Arrabon, cross-cultural worship goes beyond recruiting an ethnically diverse group of musicians to perform on Sundays, or mixing in the occasional African American spiritual.
“It’s also important to create together,” said Bailey, who attends and serves at East End Fellowship in Richmond, Virginia, where Arrabon hosts an annual songwriting internship and its Urban Doxology initiative. “The anthropology of the community really matters.”
By providing worship resources and training leaders to understand the cultures in their own cities and neighborhoods, he hopes the languages, styles, and themes of worship will better reflect economic and ethnic diversity. According to Bailey, this shift can foster reconciliation in fleshed-out neighborhoods.
“We try to write material that would bring the affluent and poor, different ethnicities, races together to tell a new story of our community,” said Bailey, who grew up doing urban ministry alongside his parents in inner-city Richmond.
Arrabon’s music ranges from Hispanic folk tunes and choruses in Urdu (“Jalali Yesu,” or “Almighty Jesus”) to funky, neo-soul arrangements of familiar songs like the Doxology and Indelible Grace’s “By Thy Mercy.”