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Meet ZPC's New Worship Director!

We are excited to Introduce Don Nieman, ZPC’s Next Director of Worship!

Since Jon Graybeal felt called to step into a new role as the director of high school ministry, ZPC has been in the process of looking for our new worship director. Dave Gall, chair of the worship director search team, said the process was not easy. "It would have been a much simpler process if all we were looking for was someone to lead our praise band at 10:30."

Instead, ZPC's director of worship is charged with helping the congregation and community understand and experience the love of Christ and develop a strong foundation in faith through holistic worship. The worship director is responsible for creating the appropriate environment that encourages everyone to offer up worship to the Almighty and Most Holy God. This is a pretty tall order! Enter Don Nieman, who says he sees his ministry as "working to see that all of God's people can express their joy, their lament, their hope to God."

Dave said, "during our search, we cast a wide net looking for a person who would fill the expectations to be our worship director. We received applications, not only locally, but also from candidates as far away as New Hampshire, Kansas, and Washington. The worship search team felt that Don’s skills and knowledge best aligned with what ZPC was looking for."

Don was born in a suburb of Chicago and grew up in a large extended Catholic family. According to Don, his mother says she knew he would be a drummer because when his dad would play loud music, Don would kick out rhythms inside the womb. In addition to a drummer, Don and his family thought he might be a priest, and he even began Catholic seminary in 9th grade. Although Don did not end up going into the priesthood, Don says "it was during this time I first began to understand my fit in the church."

As a young adult, Don was called into ministry at a Protestant church as a drummer on the worship team, and this continued the journey of his deep love for God and his desire to express this love through music. Since that time, Don has served at several churches in the California area; his longest stint being 11 years as the director of worship at San Celemente Presbyterian Church. Most recently, he served as the director of worship at Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington. 

Don is excited about being at ZPC, but more excited about his overall call from God. "My call is to help people make that leap from 'worship is something we do on Sunday mornings' to 'worship is something we do all of life.' I am thrilled to walk alongside other people as they grow in their giftedness." He encourages people to try something new and daring, and offer it as a gift to God. "It can be difficult for musicians to lay out their wares and have them inspected by others. But it can be a beautiful moment...something that is daring for us can glorify God."

Don reports his favorite roles are being dad to Kira and Joshua and husband to Wendy, his wife of 20 years. Kira is 14 years old and will be a freshman at Zionsville High School. She plays violin, softball, and loves dance. Joshua, age 12, loves adventure experiences and story writing and will be attending Zionsville West Middle School. Wendy is a professional pianist, singer, and songwriter. His hope for his own children is "that they might find a light in music and that they might use it to serve the Church."

The Nieman family's move to the Midwest has gone pretty well so far. Don says the kids are adjusting to Zionsville schools and he and Wendy are adjusting to, what feels to them like, fast drivers in Zionsville. Unlike Pastor Jerry's beloved Dunkin Donuts, Don's coffee shop of choice is Starbucks. His drink? A venti, decaf, 3 pumps of mocha, 2 pumps of peppermint, nonfat milk steamed with 2 scoops of protein powder, with whipped cream on the top.

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#digzpc | Confession

Sally BiasIf any of you spent much time around Don Paterson, ZPC’s former executive director, you know that he was fond of saying that life is all about relationships. I believe this is true. God is a relational being and since we are made in his image (Gen. 1:27), we are also relational beings. God has wired us to be connected to him and also to others…to live in community. This is not a surprising statement coming from the former small groups gal, right?

We know from Scripture that part of healthy community incorporates the act of confession. (1 John 1:9) But why is confession important and why is it so hard?

As you may know, I have gone back to school to study social work. In this process, I have been introduced to Brene Brown, Ph.D, LMSW, who is a research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. The way she does this is by interviewing lots and lots (like thousands) of people, one-to-one or in a group, and then recording the stories they tell her. Then, she goes back and pulls out common themes that she sees in people’s stories. What she has found is fascinating to me. She says her research shows:

  • The ability to be connected to one another is why we are here.
  • Shame and fear unravel connection.
  • Shame is the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that—if someone else knows—will make me unworthy of connection?
  • In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen…really seen.
  • Worthiness or the belief that you are worthy of love and belonging combat shame.

What does all of this have to do with confession, you ask? Stay with me a bit longer… I feel as if these themes help answer the two questions I asked earlier. 

Why is confession important? Confession is important because God made us for connection. But shame, fear, and our sense that we are not worthy work against connection. If we confess the sin, or “yuckiness” in our lives, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and acknowledge that we are imperfect. Here’s the tricky part…if we stop at recognizing our imperfection, we can get bogged down in shame, overwhelmed with guilt, and miss out on the rest of what God has for us, which is that we are worthy of love and belonging. How do we know this? In 1 Corinthians 6:11, Paul says: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Sanctified and justified are big, fancy words, but what they mean are this: God makes us holy or sets us apart and he says that we are not guilty! This is good news!

Why is confession so hard? I think it is because being vulnerable is hard and believing we are worthy is hard. The world wants us to believe that we have to earn everything; but God says that we are worthy of his love because he made it so. So if we can be vulnerable before God, the things that shame us can actually be what make us beautiful, which reminds me of a song…not surprising!

I hope this gives you encouragement for our homework this week…to write a prayer about the things that shame you and offer them to God (my paraphrase). Let us know how it goes.


#digzpc is the title of ZPC's Lenten series about spiritual practices. We encourage you to make comments about your experience with the practice of the week, which is simplicity this week. Also find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, if you participate in these media. When commenting there, please always use #digzpc so we can find your comments. Are you ready to dig?


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