songwrite2018 – a great two days in creative community

songwrite2018 co-coordinator David Busch writes …

Worship is universal, but song-writing isn’t – each gathered community needs songs that derive from, and speak to, its context. And we need to learn to sing hope amid the hard stuff of life.

With those words, Dr Tanya Riches – composer, justice advocate, cross-cultural IMG_0124missiologist, researcher and Hillsong scholar – urged Uniting Church song-writers to give authentic voice to the laments and hopes of people and places across Australia.

The 25 composers from four States attending Songwrite 2018 heard Tanya’s challenge, and so unfolded another weekend of creativity, collaboration and encouragement – the third national Songwrite conference sponsored by the Assembly’s Working Group on Worship since 2013.

Indooroopilly UC, Brisbane, hosted the conference over the Australia Day long weekend. For half of the attendees, this was their first Songwrite conference, and several of those had never written a worship song.

ferg_39894478282_oBut by the Sunday morning, three songs composed over the weekend were ready to be shared in a special Songwrite service with the Indooroopilly Congregation, in addition to several others that Songwrite participants had written earlier.
A focus for musical inspiration was the theme for the 15th Assembly, meeting this July in president-elect-dr-deidre-palmer_39906151641_oMelbourne: Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope.

UCA President-elect, Dr Deidre Palmer, had outlined that theme in a letter to participants a few weeks prior to Songwrite, and she attended the conference to speak further about the theme and share the experience of music taking shape around that focus.

With her academic background and extensive experience in ethno-musicology, theological anthropology, disability studies, and intersections between Pentecostal Christianity and The Dreaming of Australia’s First Peoples, as well as her success as a composer, Dr Tanya Riches brought deep insight and broad horizons to her three keynote presentations, accompanied by her musician husband, Tim Sheerman

Tanya has come a long way since writing her first song, “Jesus, what a beautiful name” in 1995, as a 15-year-old facing a difficult home life. That song leapt to the top of Christian music charts across the world and helped to regalvanise Hillsong’s music ministry after the departure of Geoff Bullock.

“I didn’t create that song,” Tanya told Songwrite. “I was a steward of a song which just emerged from within me. I couldn’t really understand the full meaning of what I was writing.

“To say that I write the song is a betrayal of the work of God embedded in the act of creating – no song I’ve ever written is mine.

“The journey of the song-writer is to steward the songs within you and within others. To give voice to your pain and passion, to connect that with the pain and passion of others, and find a language and a music that creates a community of worship of God who breaks into our lives and our world.”

Tanya said the most pressing need for worship song-writers today was to find ways to express grief and lament as entry points into empathy and humility before God and each other – enabling people to sing their questions and acknowledge the pain we each carry in our lives as we sit in church each week.

“We go through the motions at church but we know that true community is better than this. People resonate with honesty. Our songs should make the pain normative, and bring us to a turning point with the psalmists who, in the midst of anguish and lament, can declare, ‘But God …’

“There is a beautiful energy in a community singing their stories.”

IMG_1554Other parts of the Songwrite 2018 program included six composers sharing their approach to song-writing – Dave Andrews, David MacGregor, Allan Hoare, Craig Mitchell, Alison Campbell Rate and Eric Woodrow; a very entertaining Saturday night cabaret ‘open mic’ for song-sharing; and a workshop, open to the wider church, by Rev Dr Amelia Koh-Butler on how to teach new worship songs to a Congregation.

Songwrite is held about every two years.

David Busch
joint coordinator, with David MacGregor


just about ready to go … songwrite2018

songwrite_words 2018 begins in less than 24 hours – at 2 pm at
IUC outsideIndooroopilly Uniting Church, Brisbane, Australia – drawing creative folk from four states of Australia.

Here’s what the program looks like:

2018 Program handout JPEG.jpg

We look forward to God’s creative hand among us, as songs are written, honed and shared together, including with the local Indooroopilly Uniting Church community this Songwriter composing a songSunday, 28 January.

songwrite2018 is a national UCA Assembly initiative through the Assembly Worship Working Group, building on previous national events in Canberra (2013) and Adelaide (2015)

David MacGregor
David Busch – coordinators


less than 7 weeks to “songwrite2018”

Registrations are coming in for
2018 – a  marvellous opportunity for folk from around Australia to gather in creative community over 48 hours to craft & nourish new songs in Christian worship.

Registrations have already come in from South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, with regos anticipated from other parts of the country too.

In coming weeks, registrants will be updated with details, including local transport, program and “what to bring” information. Registrations close: 18 January 2018

A pool of support/mentor musicians is being gathered to facilitate the workshopping of new songs and local arrangements at Indooroopilly Uniting Church are being advanced.

We keenly anticipate the skilful input and encouragement of our guest presenter Tanya Riches.

For more information contact
David MacGregor


songwrite2018 draft program now available

The exciting and varied program for songwrite2018 is now available.

Tanya Riches 1

  • plenty of creative space opportunities to craft new or emerging worship songs
  • three “keynotes” facilitated by our special guest presenter Tanya Riches
  • opportunities to learn from other worship song writers
  • songwrite cafe’ on the Saturday evening
  • two days in creative, Christian community, in connection with Indooroopilly Uniting Church, Brisbane

Songwrite 2018 draft program summary JPG.jpg


  • this program may well change between now and January 2018 🙂
  • Facebook page
  • contact David MacGregor 0414 392 802 or for more information
  • online registration available by early September 2017

Songwrite - Brisbane 2018-1

“songwrite” … a special weekend

songwrite has come and gone at Kippax UC, Canberra this past weekend. Around 30 folk from many parts of Australia. Many having written or shared a worship song in the context of a weekend time of community before, let alone had their song turned into music score or mp3 recording.  Andrew Dutney (Rev Professor) and Robin Mann as our special guests led us brilliantly, sharing along the way so much behind the crafting of some of their songs.

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songwrite was just as much about each one of us being encouraged (and we pray, empowered) to share their songs as gift – in worship and often as a prophetic voice in their communities. Saturday night’s “open mic” time, when 16 or so of us got up and shared – and importantly, the rest of us sang along, was one of the high-points.  Another highpoint was the sense of collaboration and networking; being affirmed in our musical gifting. Our support team of coaches, techos and musos helped so much in this regard.

Kippax UC proved a marvellous venue – the hospitality of the church folk there was just amazing; great catering, so many ‘creative spaces’, hospitality, admin support. We could go on.  Thanks Kippax, and particularly Gordon, Erin, Hannah, Dean and all who worked alongside you.  it was great making the songwrite connections via your three Sunday worship services, with 6 of our new songs being shared and sung.

Really, songwrite has not really come and gone at all. Anything but! There’s a clear sense among the 30 of us, that we’d like another songwrite weekend; we’d like to explore how in an ongoing way we … and the many, many other worship songwriters out there can be supported and encouraged, and ultimately the triune God can be worshipped and served in fresh ways.

Watch this space.  songwrite 2?   I’m up for it (David).

Grace and peace,
David MacGregor
Sharon Kirk



“songwrite” less than 6 days away


songwrite registrations have now closed.

We are so excited at how this national Uniting Church event is shaping up, believing it will give huge encouragement and impetus to the broadening of worship songwriting and the use of these songs in the wider church.  We’re andrew dutneycoming expecting to be surprised by the creativity of the Spirit.
Andrew Dutney, Robin Mann and other gifted musicians will add so much to the flavour and learning of the weekend.
Can you believe we now have 22 songwriters coming in that capacity – and that’s not counting the 10-person guest & support team, robin_mannmany of which are acknowledged and published songwriters themselves.

Kippax Uniting Church, Canberra – from 1 pm Friday,  Please pray that this will be an event of openness, community, creativity,  affirmation support and most of all, a vessel for the movement of God.

Grace and peace,
David MacGregor
Sharon Kirk  (Coordinators)

registration form & details now online!

As promised, we now have detailed information for
15-17 February 2013
Kippax Uniting Church, Holt, Canberra, ACT.

It’s all there on the rego form, downloaded here..
Page 1 gives the key details. Page 2 provides the registration form: to be completed and mailed to the address provided.

Things are shaping up well for songwrite, with much interest being shown. This has all the promise of being a special event indeed, as new songs of worship are written for the church.

General inquiries: 
David MacGregor   0414392802

Registration inquiries:
Sharon Kirk    0427 962 781

Now for some basics:


  • a $20 non-refundable  registration fee
  • $160 to cover weekend costs – catering (all meals except breakfasts), tech & admin costs
  • those attending are requested to organize their own transport arrangements & accommodation (unless billeting is sought).


songwrite subsidies are available on request, by contacting
Sharon Kirk 0427 962 781

Participants are also encouraged to approach their congregation/faith community/agency AND presbytery to gain financial assistance.

also invited:
songwrite will be enhanced by the involvement of a special group of coaches/mentors, thinkers, musos and tech people.  If you would like to assist songwrite in this way, please indicate on the rego form.

We look forward to our special guests:

theologian & thinker (& songwriter):
Andrew Dutney (Rev Prof)
– President: Uniting Church in Australia

songwriter-in-residence: Robin Mann

click here to download registration form & details

songwrite is a songs that unite initiative of the
Uniting Church in Australia National Assembly
Worship Working Group