Renewed direction for music department

by | Jan 19, 2024

At the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic school year, Bethel University welcomed Stephen Martin, D.C.M., as the new chair for the Music Department. From Martin’s perspective, his journey from California to Bethel has been two years in the making.

“I was really content in what I was doing,” says Martin, who previously served as the director of both worship studies and Angeles Worship Initiative as well as the interim associate chair of music studies and associate professor of music at Azusa Pacific University. “There came a point when I began to sense perhaps God was leading me in a new direction, and that this was a time to be open to that possibility. That began a journey of selfreflection and conversations with my wife, family and people I trust, and then a journey of exploration after that.”

As Martin learned more about what the role at Bethel would entail and how it aligned with his own experiences, he also discovered the investment of students, faculty and staff to create a sense of community. That combination led him to accept the position.

Martin has already recognized the potential in the group of students who make up the choir as he has worked with them. They have developed a strong sense of community and skill within the first few weeks of the semester and will continue to build on that over the coming year.

In addition to choir, Martin has been excited to come alongside other music projects already on the schedule such as the faculty recital, the album release from the Worship Arts program and the upcoming second annual Jazz Festival this spring.

Looking forward, Martin sees an opportunity to expand and develop academic offerings in music. This would lead to new programs and updated infrastructure to support them. He also loves bringing people together in collaborative environments such as grant-based projects, interdisciplinary opportunities and various partnerships across the spectrum of music.

He is eager to increase the number of ways the music department impacts the Bethel community as well as Michiana, Indiana and surrounding states. This would include looking for additional touring opportunities for ensembles.

“We stand on the shoulders of those who come before us,” Martin acknowledges, “and I know that music has been a part of Bethel since its inception in 1947. It has had a long history of being part of the DNA of Bethel, so it’s exciting to join in that longstanding tradition.”