I was away from home this weekend to play the organ for the memorial service of a friend's mother. When I returned home, I found multiple e-mails telling me that my friend Bob Webber had finally passed away after his long struggle with pancreatic cancer.
Bob taught many of us that God–not the congregation–is the primary "audience" for what happens in our worship services. He has now joined with the heavenly anthem in proclaiming, "Worthy is the Lamb."
CT will soon be posting an obituary on our website. And I'm sure others will want to join me in blogging their own memories of Bob. But in the meantime, here's a press release from Dr. Jim Hart of the Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies.
[Full press release after the jump]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Noted theologian and author Dr. Robert E. Webber died yesterday in his home in Sawyer, Michigan, after an eight-month struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was 73 years old.
Dr. Webber was born in Congo of missionary parents, and was raised in the Philadelphia area. He earned the Th.D. from Concordia Theological Seminary. From 1968 to 2000 he served as Professor of Theology at Wheaton College, and was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2000. He was appointed William R. and Geraldine D. Myers Professor of Ministry and Director of the M.A. in Worship and Spirituality at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of 2000.
Bob Webber founded The Institute for Worship Studies (now the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies) in 1998. The Institute for Worship Studies is a Masters and Doctorate level graduate school focused on the study of the theological, Biblical, historical, sociological and missiological foundations of Christian worship. The school is hosted by Grace Episcopal Church of Orange Park, Florida and combines distance learning with one-week on-campus intensive courses involving students, faculty and alumni from around the globe.
IWS Provost and President-Elect Dr. James R. Hart commented, "Bob Webber significantly influenced many in our generation with the understanding that worship is the key to the renewal of the church. We mourn the loss of our friend and mentor, but rejoice with him in worshiping the risen Christ."
Webber was noted for his numerous writings and workshops in worship and worship renewal. His books include such titles as Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, Worship Is a Verb, Worship Old and New, Ancient-Future Faith, Ancient-Future Time, Ancient-Future Evangelism, Journey to Jesus, The Younger Evangelicals, and The Divine Embrace. He served as editor of the seven-volume The Complete Library of Christian Worship (Hendrickson, 1993) and was a regular columnist in Worship Leader magazine.
Webber leaves behind a wife, Joanne, four children, John (Isabel), Alexandra (Jack), Stefany (Tom), and Jeremy (Susie), seven grandchildren, and a rich legacy of friends, colleagues and students.
Memorial services will be held at Northern Seminary (please call for date, time and location) and at Grace Episcopal Church in Orange Park, FL on Friday, June 15 at 7 PM, during the June session of the Institute for Worship Studies. In lieu of flowers the family has requested that donations be made to the Robert E. Webber Endowment Fund at the Institute for Worship Studies, 151 Kingsley Ave., Orange Park, FL 32073, or the Robert E. Webber Center for an Ancient Evangelical Future, c/o Northern Seminary, 660 E. Butterfield Rd., Lombard, IL 60148.
Grace and peace,
Dr. James R. Hart
Provost/President-Elect, The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies
151 Kingsley Ave.
Orange Park, FL 32073