Integrity Music and The Porter's Gate, described as a sacred ecumenical arts collective, released their second project, “Neighbor Songs,” on Friday (click here). Artists featured on “Neighbor Songs” include Josh Garrels, Audrey Assad, Casey J, Leslie Jordan (from All Sons & Daughters), Zach Bolen (of the band Citizens), Urban Doxology, Diana Gameros, Latifah Alattas, Lauren Goans and Paul Zach.
“We wanted to involve the people who are really dealing with the pressing questions and issues of our times – the people who are coming face-to-face in a daily way with people’s doubts and struggles and questions about the Christian faith – and put those people in a room with other songwriters and worship leaders," Isaac Wardell said. "In many cases, we actually paired theologians and songwriters together in the songwriting process. We had a lot of beautiful, surprising moments of really coming up with things that could not have been written any other way except having that group of people in the room.”
In celebration of the album release, The Porter's Gate shared the official live video of their song, "Daughters of Zion," led by Casey J, Urban Doxology and Zach in tandem with the album's studio recording featuring Garrels and Casey J.
“Songs of lament are all over the psalms, but in recent times, lament has lost its important place in many of our worship services," Wardell said. "The song ‘Daughters of Zion’ is a song of lament inspired by the third chapter of Zephaniah when the prophet foresees a day when the Daughters of Zion will rejoice and eat and sleep with no fear. In a time when there are so many ways that women in the church are abused and silenced, we hope that this song is an opportunity to pause and to lament that many of God's daughters continue to await the day of rejoicing in the house of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus, we pray.”
The Porter's Gate was founded in 2017 by Isaac and Megan Wardell with a mission to be a "porter" for the Christian Church – one who looks beyond church doors for guests to welcome. It started as a group of 50-plus songwriters, musicians, scholars, pastors and music industry professionals from a variety of worship traditions and cultural backgrounds gathered for meaningful conversation about worship and vocation. The result was the release of “Work Songs.”
They hosted a second gathering in Nashville in January; but this time, they intentionally curated a select group of greater diversity boasting more than 50 songwriters, theologians, pastors and worship leaders from a variety of cultures and worship traditions. The intent was to cross lines of difference in order to facilitate healthy conversations.
The album covers an array of current topics in which people can learn to better love their neighbors. Some of these topics include uplifting and lamenting with women in the church who have been silenced or abused ("Daughters of Zion"), loving the least of these as loving Jesus ("He Is Among Us [The Least of These])" and welcoming others of difference rather than fearing them ("Nothing To Fear").
“More and more of our friends and loved ones, for very legitimate reasons, are becoming disenfranchised with the Church and are looking to be spiritually nurtured other places outside of the Church,” Wardell said. “We want to double-down on our commitment that God is at work in the worship of the Church, and we want ‘Neighbor Songs’ to be just one of the thousands of things going on in the world that are all about the renewal of worship in the Church.”