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Ministering Through Music

West Coast Baptist College’s Online Master’s Program Helps Students Perfect Musical Talents While Glorifying God; $1,000 Discount Offered Through January 29


LOS ANGELES—Psalm 98 tells God’s people to “make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth,” breaking into joyous song and praises, with both instruments and voices.

For those who love music and want to glorify God with their talents, West Coast Baptist College’s (WCBC) online or on-campus master’s degree program empowers students and ministry leaders to become more effective in their calling. And the music concentration within the program, one of three focuses, allows students and professionals to refine their talents even further and use their God-given abilities to honor the Savior.

“Music is a tool that can be used in a variety of ways, and it can emotionally guide and promote spiritual concepts,” said West Coast Baptist College President and Lancaster Baptist Church Senior Pastor Dr. Paul Chappell. “Students enrolled in the music concentration can master its use effectively in church environments to honor and glorify Christ. The WCBC graduate program is an affordable way students can invest in themselves and prepare for the exponential personal and ministry growth that God has for their future, specifically through the music concentration.” 

The Master of Church Music Program is designed to sharpen the skills of Christian musicians. Church pianists, choir directors and music teachers can all benefit from an educational program that is both practical and professional. In addition to receiving a solid academic education, participants in the WCBC program will be able to observe firsthand the music program of Lancaster Baptist Church. This master’s program requires three summers of residency (three weeks each summer) and the completion of specified online courses between summers.

Jon Guy, a graduate of the music concentration within the Master of Religious Education, remarked, “The music master’s program was very helpful to me as someone in full-time ministry wanting to sharpen and develop skills. Dr. Russ Shelley is an exceptional teacher who has a unique way of tailoring his teaching to meet your specific needs and goals. I’m thankful for the time that I spent in this program.”

Expert faculty work closely with both on-campus and online students to make the most of the educational opportunity at hand, especially as some students juggle the responsibilities of family and full-time careers.

  • Alis Odenthal, Instructor of Music, earned degrees in Music, Voice and Musicology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and continued her studies at the Music Academy of the West. She had been in music education over 30 years at the college level prior to joining the faculty at West Coast Baptist College in 2011. Odenthal and her husband are members of Lancaster Baptist Church, and she enjoys singing in the Lancaster Baptist Church choir.
  • John Tyler, Chairman of Music Department, graduated from West Coast Baptist College in 2011 and immediately began assisting in the college music department. Upon earning his master’s degree in church music, Tyler began to chair the music department. He is responsible for overseeing the music concentration, music faculty and campus music programs, and conducts the college choirs and oversees chapel music and the production of college music CDs. Tyler is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. He and his wife, Pearl, participate in the choir and orchestra of Lancaster Baptist Church. They are also involved in weekly discipleship and lead a young couples Bible study and are the parents of two boys.
  • Russell Shelley, Music Residency Director, began teaching in the West Coast Baptist College master’s program in 2011. He is the Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., where he chairs the music department, conducts the Concert Choir and Choral Union, and teaches courses in music theory, music appreciation and aesthetic philosophy. He holds bachelor degrees in sacred music and music education from Baptist Bible College, a master’s degree in vocal performance from Mansfield University and a doctorate in music education from Penn State. In addition to his work at Juniata, Shelley is music director of the State College Choral Society. Through his conducting and teaching, he has worked in 31 countries and has served as a deacon and Sunday School Superintendent at Calvary Independent Baptist Church in Huntingdon. Shelley and his wife, Debbie, have two college-age children and are involved in the music program at their church.

Julie Edwards also teaches as part of the Summer Music Master’s program.

Courses part of the music concentration include the following:

Choral Conducting and Methods: One of the most common responsibilities of the church music director is the leading large and small ensembles as well as the congregation. In this essential course, students will learn to conduct a variety of musical styles with great clarity and expression in order to most effectively rehearse and lead ensembles and the congregation.

  • Proficiency Master Class: Every student will benefit from a master class in piano, voice or conducting proficiency.
  • Vocal Technique: The church music director often works with inexperienced and untrained singers. In order to improve the sound and longevity of choirs and ensembles groups, a director must understand how to incorporate and communicate proper vocal technique. As a result of taking this course, the student will be able to lead an effective vocal warm-up, hear and identify vocal faults, and incorporate the most effective pedagogical approach to correct those faults and prevent future difficulties.
  • Graduate Music Theory: This course focuses on detailed analysis of individual aspects of music including melody, rhythm/meter, harmony, form, composers’ treatment of non-harmonic tones, and other stylistic and structural features. As a result of taking this course, successful students will be able to communicate in detailed and technical terms about music and musical composition both in oral and written formats.

Additional master’s degree concentrations include education, where instructors will learn the various styles of learning and teaching and how to apply them in their classrooms in relevant ways, which will help shape the future by teaching the next generation how to live for Christ; and Bible, where students conduct advanced research and learn how to love the Word of God on a deeper level than ever before, experience the depth of its history and truths, and learn how to apply them in practical ministry.

Whether residential or online, students are enrolled in the same classes with the same instructors, covering the same material. The WCBC online master’s degree program is not just pre-recorded lectures; the program mimics the full classroom experience. Those interested in the West Coast Baptist College master’s program can learn more here or request further information here. Through Jan. 29, WCBC is offering a $1,000 discount to new students. The registration deadline is Jan. 29, and the first seven-week session of 2018 begins Jan. 31.

West Coast Baptist College is an integrated auxiliary organization of Lancaster Baptist Church, where Chappell has served as pastor for the past 31 years. He and his wife of 37 years, Terrie, recently released the new book, Are We There Yet? Marriage—a Perfect Journey for Imperfect Couples,” a travel-themed guide for marriage.

Read more about West Coast Baptist College, Lancaster Baptist Church, “Are We There Yet?” and the Chappells here. For more information on Dr. Paul Chappell and Lancaster Baptist Church, visit or, or connect via social media on Facebook, Twitter or the church’s YouTube or Vimeo.