Gathering Notes, 2005-12

Gathering Notes
The newsletter of the United Church of Canada Association of Musicians

December 2005

Where did this year go?

Seems like only weeks ago that I was quietly planning an outline for regular, orderly editions of “gathering notes”, both electronic and print…well, we missed Easter, Pentecost, Summer, Labour Day, Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day, but just in time for Advent, here it is, your UCCAM newsletter!

Some introductions are in order

If you have been monitoring our website (, you will have noticed some changes in some of the names. We have several new UCCAM convenors, and it is a pleasure to introduce them, from West to East. From Calgary, our new convenor for Alberta is Joanne Melvin ( ). In Manitou Conference, from North Bay, Ontario, please welcome convenor David Melhorn-Boe (

And put your hands together for the new Bay of Quinte convenor, Lois Cossar (, from Trenton, Ontario. Another name to add to the executive is Cindy Watson (, who is the new membership coordinator. Welcome all of you, and we hope that as people read your names, they will get in touch to say hello, especially if they are in your area. Networking is the name of the UCCAM game, and I know that David has been compiling a list of all the church musicians in the pastoral charges in his area. Good work! (Are you listening out there, other convenors?) We would love to be able to compile a list of every church musician in every pastoral charge in Canada, and UCCAM convenors are the best people to collect the data for such a list. What a great Christmas present for Cindy, the new membership coordinator, and for Mr UCCAM, who is still looking after communications! (We’ll be checking our stockings and under the tree, right Cindy?)

On behalf of the entire UCCAM membership, thanks to retiring convenors Michael Faulkner ( Bay of Quinte) and Jan Harper (Manitoba-Northwest Ontario). Drop us a line some time and let us know what you are doing and we’ll pass it on through this network.

Highlights from the AGM – Patricia Wright, UCCAM co-chair

The Annual General Meeting of UCCAM was held on June 13 and 14 at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, following “Worship Matters.”

  • We welcomed new convenors (listed elsewhere).
  • Co-chair Bruce Harding, who is Managing Editor for the Voices United supplement More Voices, presented an update on that project.
  • Members voted:
    • that UCCAM recommend to every Conference and Presbytery that More Voices be used as the primary musical resource at their gatherings through 2006 and 2007; and
    • that UCCAM, in conjunction with the More Voices project team, provide leadership in implementing More Voices material at those meetings.
  • Following a presentation by Ron Klusmeier, Brian Wren, and Susan Heafield, the members had a broad-ranging discussion about how to direct our educational energies and resources. We are obtaining information about the financial resources available to us, and we plan to direct any funds toward UCCAM educational projects.
  • Thanks to Blair Odney and other contributors, for preparation of our job descriptions. The members voted approval our job descriptions.
  • Current UCCAM membership stands at 440, an increase of approximately 30% over the previous year. Cindy Watson has agreed to work with Lloyd on membership.
  • Following a proposal by Fred Graham, the members asked the Program Committee to work on a model of workshops to be given across the country in a variety of worship/musical areas.
  • The members and executive of UCCAM who met in Halifax represent a broad spectrum of musical leadership in the United Church of Canada. We were inspired by the ideas and discussion held, and will work hard toward implementing our proposals. We need the support and input of all UCCAM members to increase awareness of the organization and to design and promote educational activities across the country.
  • Patricia (for more information on Patricia, see

Watch for Patricia Wright on Spirit Connection this December 18, in a special Christmas music feature with several choirs, handbells, carillon, organ and silver band – all from Metropolitan United in Toronto.

Some quick thoughts from Ross Bartlett on Worship Matters II

(Ross Bartlett and Joan McMurtry acted as “co-hosts” for the Worship Mattersevent held in Halifax, NS in June.)

“I thought the participation of the musicians was a very positive contribution to the life of the Worship Matters event. For many folk – particularly worship and lay leaders from smaller centres – the opportunity to receive and participate in high quality worship music in a variety of styles is clearly a high point of the event. I recognize too that many UCCAM members were scrambling between the three sites to make that contribution, so I’m doubly grateful.

“Certainly the three campus model did not make it any easier on anyone, but most people rolled graciously with the challenges the local arrangements posed.

“Overall, a preliminary review of the evaluations indicates a generally high level of positive feedback regarding the event. The Worship Working Group will be spending more time with those evaluations at its September meeting. One issue that the group will be wrestling with is whether or not (besides producing quality events at which folk learn a tremendous amount) we are actually furthering the mandate of the Group which is to foster and encourage reflection, dialogue and practice concerning the state and evolution of worship in the United Church of Canada .”

Rev Dr Ross Bartlett
St. Matthew’s United Church
1479 Barrington St .
Halifax , NS, B3J 1Z2

“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
(1 Peter 3:15-16)

A great concert

One of the highlights of the Worship Matters events is a great concert — last year, Paul Halley and company joined with the Eglinton-St George’s Senior Choir for an exciting evening in Toronto, and this year in Halifax, we were treated to Ron Klusmeier’s “Song Circling All the Earth”, a retrospective of Ron’s work that included parts of 57 of his compositions, sung by choirs, soloists and the audience.

The concert took place at a packed St Matthew’s on Barrington Street, and featured a massed choir of over 120 voices, a children’s choir, and soloists Ann Bradley, Linnea Good, Rick Gunn and Sarah MacLean, directed by UCCAM Maritime convenor Shawn Whynot ( ). They were backed up by a band led from the piano by Ron Klusmeier, and included Bruce Harding (bass), David Jonsson (drums), Bill Kervin (percussion), Ian MacDonald from Common Cup (guitar), Mr UCCAM (synthesizer), and the horn section — Todd MacDonald (trombone), Rob Dalgleish (trumpet), and Peter Woods (tenor sax). Phew! A special treat was the participation of four well-known writers, Walter Farquharson, Fred Kaan, John Oldham, and Brian Wren, reading lines from their work set to Ron’s tunes. It was really an amazing evening. Ron is “taking the show on the road” in the new year — well, not the entire show that was in Halifax — with plans to perform in almost every presbytery in Canada so watch for it in a presbytery near you. Details are available at

Another event of note taking place in Halifax next July is the Royal Canadian College of Organists “Pipes by the Sea Festival 2006” ( Dates are July 23 – 27, a beautiful time of year in Nova Scotia, and there is an amazing lineup of performances and workshops in some of the most historic churches in the country. Check out the website or the RCCO site at
Sally Duke reports on a recent event in the nation’s capital

Worship Odyssey III – Reaching Out to a New Generation of Faith

Following very successful conferences in 2001 and 2004, the Ottawa chapter of UCCAM planned and hosted the third Worship Odyssey (Rideau Park United Church, Ottawa, October 14-15, 2005) for musicians, clergy, worship and music committees, and all those interested in Christian education (including youth). Our emphasis this year was the inclusion of children, youth and newcomers to worship and church life. Included in the event were workshops and worship using “More Voices”.

Presentations included:

  • Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Hawn, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University – “Worshipping Together in the 21st Century – Exploring the Liturgical Landscape”
  • Dr. Hawn led closing worship with the theme: “Through the Church the Song Goes On: the Shape of the People’s Song in the 21st Century – Adding Our Stanzas to the Great Hymns of the Church”
  • Introduction to “More Voices” by a supplement team, including Mark MacLean, Lynn Boothroyd, and Lloyd MacLean
  • Andrew Donaldson on using percussion in worship and training a percussion ensemble
  • Workshops on the spirituality of teens, changing perspectives on participation of children in worship and the change in images of God in children’s hymns (Susan Lukey), creating a viable youth ministry
  • Demonstration children’s choir rehearsal with Michael Hawn (the choir then participated in the closing worship)
  • Resource displays from UCRD, Choristers Guild and the Leading Note music store, Ottawa

For more information –

Sally Duke is UCCAM convenor for the Montreal-Ottawa Conference, and recently explored St. Petersburg, Russia.

Some news from the West Coast

Epiphany Explorations is an annual 5-day symposium in late January (26-30,2006), held at First+Metropolitan United in Victoria, BC that inspires and reenergizes you, as you learn and network with others of faith.

Sessions include:

  • Special music
  • Presentations by internationally acclaimed speakers
  • Workshops on topics of interest to church communities

Epiphany Explorations attracts ministry and laity in the United Church and broader Christian community throughout Canada and the United States. Participants call it “spiritually rejuvenating” with an “excellent mix of speakers and music.”

Speakers for 2006 include:

  • Raffi, internationally acclaimed family entertainer, songwriter, author, and ecology advocate
  • Joyce Rupp, internationally known speaker and retreat director, author of numerous popular books including Praying Our Goodbyes, May I HaveThis Dance?, Dear Heart Come Home and The Circle of Life
  • Richard Rohrbaugh, Paul S. Wright Professor of Religious Studies, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, internationally recognized for his work in the social-scientific criticism of the New Testament and author of six books including Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John (with B.J.Malina), The Social Sciences and New Testament Interpretation, and The Biblical Interpreter: An Agrarian Bible in an Industrial Age
  • Bruce Harding, church musician, composer, and church music scholar, managing editor for the Voices United Supplement project
  • Nancy Reeves, Ph.D., registered clinical psychologist specializing in the area of trauma, grief and loss, author of I’d SayYes God if I Knew WhatYou Wanted and Found Through Loss:Healing Stories from Scripture and Everyday Sacredness
  • Lloyd Axworthy, eloquent statesman, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of the University of Winnipeg, and author of Navigating a New World: Canada’s Global Future
  • Rabbi Harry Brechner of Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria, a dynamic and stimulating teacher and a former administrator of three Jewish schools in New Orleans
  • Herbert O’Driscoll, Anglican priest, well-known preacher and teacher of preachers in North America, hymnwriter and author of books on scripture, prayer and spirituality, including Emmanuel and Portraitof a Woman
  • Bill Phipps, former Moderator of the United Church of Canada and co-founder of the Faith and Common Good network
  • Carolyn Pogue, a freelance writer and editor, workshop facilitator for children, teens and adults with a particular focus on peace and peacemaking

Fran Pollet is UCCAM convenor for British Columbia, and ministers musically at First+Met in Victoria.

Sing and Rejoice 2005

Sing and Rejoice was the title on the brochure and that was exactly what 87 participants and 3 leaders did at Pickering Village United Church on February 12.

The choral workshop day happens every two years and this one was the 6th workshop day the Senior Choir and Music Director planned and organized. The workshop is aimed at church and community choir singers, music directors, and anyone who loves to sing. Some small churches bring their entire choir with them. We had people come from as far away as Kingston, and Coburg as well as from the Uxbridge area, Port Perry, Oshawa, and Ajax/Pickering. Several church denominations were represented, including Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and of course, United Church.
For a fee of $45, the participants received a package of music chosen by the workshop leaders, 8 anthems altogether, refreshment breaks, a dinner, and an evening concert.
There were two workshops, the first led by Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, director of the Nathanial Dett Chorale and the second led by Glenda Crawford of the Oakville Children’s Choir, each lasting two hours.
The clinicians were very different in their approach and in their choice of music. But each took the group of people who had never sung together until this day and before long had created a wonderful choir. The two leaders worked on such things as vocal blend, focused choral sound, intonation, musical phrasing. Brainerd Blynden-Taylor used some of the music of Nathanial Dett and other Afro-American composers. Glenda Crawford taught several anthems suitable for Lent and Easter as well as a piece by John Rutter, ‘Look at the World’, that the group later sang together with her Girl’s Chamber Choir.
During the break, Bruce Harding gave a short talk about the benefits of UCCAM and was available to answer questions about this organization.
The Pickering Village United Church Women put on a great dinner for everyone and the day ended with a concert by the Chamber Choir of the Oakville Children’s Choir. This excellent choir is made up of about 30 teen-age girls and they were a shining example of the musical details that Ms Crawford worked on with the group.
The evaluation sheets that we asked participants to fill out were unanimous in praising the events of the day. People were very positive about the experience and were full of good ideas to take home to their own choirs.
Sing and Rejoice is one of the PVUC choir’s outreach projects. Our goal is to meet our expenses and break even. We are very grateful to UCCAM, which provided a grant of $500 to help with expenses and was used for the initial printing of the brochure and for mailing costs. After tallying up all our expenses, which included hiring the workshop leaders and accompanist, advertising and promotion, printing and mailing costs, music purchases, and catering, we actually had $300 left over. After some discussion the choir decided to donate this money to two of our parish nurses who are traveling to work in Africa.
It takes a great deal of energy and organization to present Sing and Rejoice. I depend on the expertise and dedicated work of my choir’s executive committee, as well as the regular choir members who tirelessly promote the event and volunteer during the day to make sure everything runs smoothly.
However, I think everyone agrees the results – people creating together through music – are worth it.
Anne Mizen
Music Director
Pickering Village United Church
It’s that time of year again!

Well, besides Advent and Christmas, it is also time to take care of other important details in your life, such as sending in that UCCAM membership renewal which includes your “Gathering” subscription renewal. Don’t delay, send it today! And what a great Christmas gift suggestion for colleagues in your area who aren’t UCCAM members…believe it or not, there are still a few out there who haven’t signed up. Memberships expire with the end of the calendar year.


ucammCongratulations and best wishes to a few of our UCCAM members, including RevFran Ota, UCCAM convenor for Toronto, installed as President of Toronto Conference at the Annual Meeting held last May in Orangeville. Welcome to Joseph Hunter MacLean, firstborn son of United Church Worship Program Coordinator, Rev MarkMacLean and partner Angela Carmichael (see photo). And last but not least, wedding bells were ringing for UCCAM executive member Rev John Joseph Mastandrea and his partner, Bill Calkins, and we’re waiting to see some wedding pictures, JJ!

What’s coming up in the New Year?

More bio’s of convenors from around the country. More news and reviews of church music and worship events from around the country. Sample questions for a workshop questionnaire, or maybe even the real thing! “More Voices” update. Positions available column. Readers contributions with news from around the country. Send us your views and reviews, your faves and raves, share the news with your UCCAM sisters and brothers as we enter another exciting year of music ministry in the United Church.

Blessings of the season to one and all from Mr. UCCAM!

Lloyd MacLean

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