copyright 2000
Cleveland Chapter
American Guild of Organists

Dean's Message April 2001

A year ago I wrote to you about the pastoral search the congregation I serve was undertaking and my hopes for a new minister. We are now seven months into that new pastoral team, and I thought I would report to you on how it is going. The congregation ended up calling a ministerial couple, who share one position. They are a husband and wife who have complementary skills which serve the congregation well.

The most hopeful outcome to this point, from my perspective, has been an interest in team planning of worship. It is not perfect. I still often get the hymns on Friday. But there is also a sharing of planning, sermon topics, themes, sometimes discussions of appropriate hymns.

I like the fact that my preludes and postludes have become part of the service. Before the worship hour, I play the hymns of the day, what we call "gathering music." Then the ministers come in and ring a bell, after which I play the prelude. At the end of the service the minister often says, "many of us prefer to listen to the postlude; if you need to leave, please do so quietly." Then the ministers sit down and listen to the postlude. These practices have given me a much greater sense of worth about the music I play for worship.

The ministers have started a program at West Shore Church which holds much promise, I think. They have chosen four "Worship Associates" for the year. These people were chosen from a group of applicants for this volunteer position and receive training in worship planning. They assist the ministers with readings and other aspects of the worship service. The idea is that eventually there will be a trained laity who will be able to plan worship services in the absence of the professional ministers.

I would love to hear from any of you who see hopeful signs of musical sensitivity in your ministers or congregations. For those of you who see few signs of enlightenment, hang in there; the work we do is blessed.

Awake, thou wintry earth!
Awake thy voice and sing!

Fern Jennings

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