Elise Collingsworth, senior worship arts major at John Brown University, never intended to work in worship ministry leadership. She came from a background that frowned upon women in leadership, so the worship ministry in which Collingsworth participated in during high school had a limited future.
“In high school, I never had a dream to be a worship pastor or anything; that was never on my radar,” Collingsworth said. “I took a break from leading worship for a year. . .I kind of thought about worship arts freshman year, but I didn’t think it was practical coming from a tradition where women in ministry wasn’t really a thing.”
Collingsworth began in the music education department. “I thought I wanted to teach,” she said. As she continued in her college career, she realized worship arts was not only a passion, but God’s calling.
“Through a turn of events, the Lord just kind of shaped my direction toward worship arts,” Collingsworth said. Worship arts was “something that was just tailored more to who I am as a person and who I’m wired to be.”
Jen Edwards, adviser for the JBU Worship Arts program, said she has greatly enjoyed having Collingsworth in the program. According to her, Collingsworth’s gifts make her a wonderful addition to the program. After Collingsworth’s graduates, her gifts will aid her in whatever ministry she becomes involved in. “Her joy and optimism is going to be a real asset for her,” Edwards said. “People trust her quickly and like her quickly and feel safe with her quickly, so she builds relationships easy.”
Collingsworth is on one of four campus chapel bands. She is also a JBU choir member, helps plan Vespers, and leads in the Ambassador program.
“Choir has been awesome, just the community that choir builds, the opportunities it provides for performance and travel, and getting to connect on a broad level and be part of a tradition that’s much bigger than yourself,” Collingsworth said about her four-year cathedral choir experience.
“Honestly, I think my favorite thing that I’ve been a part of is actually outside the music department, and that would be Ambassadors,” Collingsworth said. “That’s my work-study, so I get to coordinate where people stay and how that whole game functions, and I absolutely love it.” Working in the Ambassador program has been a highly rewarding thing for Collingsworth.
“I’ve gotten to see it develop over the past few years, and I’ve gotten to kind of help build the program,” Collingsworth added. “I get to work with a group of team leaders who work with ambassadors, and my job is to make sure they’re equipped with what they need to do hospitality really well. So my job is equipping hospitality, which is my favorite thing ever.”
Edwards thinks Collingsworth is the perfect match for her job. “It makes total sense that she works in Admissions with guests and prospective students because she is very willing to take the first step forward and make someone feel welcome,” Edwards said. “She has an interesting quality in her that I would say I usually find in MKs—missionary kids—where she’s really not afraid to step into any scene and say, ‘Hi, I’m Elise. What’s your name?’” Edwards appreciates Collingsworth’s up-front personality. “She’d be the type of student who would be okay with just opening my fridge and saying ‘Gosh, I’m hungry’—and that’s super endearing. There’s an innocence and a joy about it that is really Elise. That’s going to be an incredible asset in ministry, because people talk to her, and people trust her.”