Are we off key?

A Cross-Canada Think-Tank on Church Music and Ministry Targets Church’s Views of Music and Musicians

In March 2008 the United Church of Canada convened a meeting of 14 prominent church musicians from across Canada, and Paul Westermeyer of Lutheran Seminary, Minneapolis. It was given the task of asking some tough questions about how music and musicians are seen and treated in the context of the church. In just over three days of frank and imaginative discussion, sharing and soul searching, the group learned from and taught itself to focus thought and emotion concerning the work and life of the church’s music and its musicians. Its objective: to help the United Church (and by implication, other churches) towards newer understandings of music’s place and nature in the life of the church, and in particular those understandings that impact the lives and work of church musicians. Sessions provided historical back-ground to the today’s state of church music and musicians, reviewed existing policies, examined case studies (some disturbing) from the lives of musicians and then settled to a two-part visioning/writing task: 1. Draft a Theological Statement on music for possible adoption by the UCC. 2. Draft a UCC Resource Document for congregations concerning music ministry entitled “Singing Faith Alive!”

Some of the “Are We Off Key?” Working Group will reconvene at SICM #39 for a special panel discussion and release of the current drafts of these two potentially influential resources, and potentially provide further meeting time for the group after the formal conclusion of the Institute on Friday July 12th. The Session will be held Thursday July 10th at 10:00am—students are suggested to invite guests (especially Ministers, Board Members) and interested others. This talented group of thinkers and deeply committed music ministers will enrich our gathering at SICM #39—and will look for your feedback in enrichment of its work. Its work may well impact widely upon the church musical vocation. Don’t Miss It!

“Are we Off-Key?” Working Group, March 5-8 ‘08 David Chodoriwsky Christopher Dawes John Derksen Fred Graham Daniel Hansen Nancy Hardy Ron Klusmeier Lloyd MacLean Blair Odney Fran Ota Judith Snowdon Janet Wilson Patricia Wright

Denominational Guests Douglas Cowling (Anglican) Andrew Donaldson (Presbyterian) Bev Foster (Baptist) Debbie-Lou Ludolph (Lutheran)

Program Co-ordinator, Worship & Music (UCC) Rev. Betty Lynn Schwab

Facilitator Dr. Paul Westermeyer

Reprinted from the Easter 2008 issue of Summersong, annual newsletter of Canada’s Summer Institute of Church Music. SICM will hold its 39th session in Whitby Ontario July 6-11 2008. For information visit on the Internet.

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