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U. S. Church membership falls below 50% for the first time in nearly a century

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  • #16
    Here is a very interesting essay on the subject: https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion...250389211.html

    NC pastor: People are leaving church — because of churches



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    • #17

      This and related posts were moved here from the Classic and Electronic Organ Channel. -Admin.

      Myorg:
      As far as the lack of rolltop goes, I worried about the kids running wild, but the priest is a nazi, so we have had no problem in 4 years. The bigger problem is the Nazi Priest! He is determined to return the church to A.D. 1820, and has been "remodeling!" He is determined to move the choirs back to the loft which only holds 25....our largest choir is 60 with an orchestra of 35! He hired car radio installer friend of his to re-wire the ADC 9000---Its a disaster--installed random speakers all over the room with no idea of channels or divisions--but purged the altar of "extraneous things" like risers, chairs, musical instruments, etc.. All this while the church was closed to musicians....aint that special. We've met with the Bishop, who is new, to key him in, but so far, no 'cease and desist' from him. Weekly collections off by 75%, so something will eventually have to give as our parish is the diocesan cash cow, and the diocese came in with a -$750,000 budget shortfall because of this last year. I am simply trying to prevent damage to the instrument so. I can re-install when this sociopath is transferred! Few parishes can survive the loss of 1000 members, but about 20% loudly support this idiot. Time will tell if they return. Sad, as I have been a parishioner for 62 years!
      Last edited by Admin; 04-08-2021, 07:16 AM.

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      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        WOW! And I was feeling marginalized at my church! At least I get to play a song or two each Sunday when they meet. It sounds like the Bishop is the way to go, if he actually has any clout.

        I hope you can manage to get things back to "normal" ASAP.

        Michael

      • sandstone42
        sandstone42 commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow, does he also want to go back to the Mass in Latin?

      • sandstone42
        sandstone42 commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow, does he also want to go back to the Mass in Latin?

    • #18
      Yes....but not pushing that yet. This is the result of sending 6 diocese priests to Rome for study at the end of Benedict's tenure. Talk about Hitler Youth!!! They are all awful, and simply do not care that their churches are losing membership--"We are keeping the ones who matter!" In two short years we have gone from a vibrant, high-participation congregation to one that is like a junior high lunch room....and the mean girls don't want 80% of us at their table!!! The man is truly a sociopath, lacking any empathy whatsoever. Says misogynistic things like "Women can't read at Easter because all the apostles were men!" He has surrounded himself with a handful of stupid "Cathoholic Conservatives", a few with $$, but has kicked any other professionals (president of U.S. Bank, CEO Black Hills Energy, Head of Surgery, etc.) out of Parish Council and other committees. Its truly amazing to watch this slow-motion car crash. If this Bishop does not act, he will lose the whole Diocese in domino fashion.

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      • #19
        I understand your pain. I grew up in the Eastern Rite Catholic Church and many of the priests over the years were very authoritarian with no seeming supervision from the diocese. I left the church after college. When my dad passed away, there was a young priest at our family parish. He allowed me to give a eulogy in the church and officiated at the graveside service at the Catholic cemetery where several generations of my family are buried.

        When my mom passed away 6 years later there was an old priest, near retirement, who had taken over as rector. He would not allow anyone from the family to speak in church so I had to do the eulogy at the funeral home, which was across the street. He wouldn't do a funeral mass because she had been cremated. We did have a regular mass but he couldn't remember mom's name. And he refused to do a graveside service - again because there was an urn instead of a casket.

        I got a last-minute notice of this final issue in a frantic phone call from the funeral director. So when I flew into my old home town for the funeral I arranged for the woman minister at the Presbyterian church where my mom was baptized to do the graveside service. My family, many of whom are still devout Catholics but not members of this parish, were delighted with this arrangement since it closed the circle of life for mom in a very special way.

        As far as I'm concerned, if the hierarchy of the Catholic Church does not understand how they are driving people away with stupid moves like this they deserve to continue to close churches as the former supporters and believers find new paths of spirituality like I did.
        Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

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        • #20
          I feel for you otispit, that is a real shame. I have no understanding of how RC parishes are run or governed, but it sounds like the priest is essentially a dictator - whatever he decides goes ? Does he not need to get authorization from the representatives of the congregation - elders, trustees, or the equivalent, to make significant changes to the churches assets ? That sort of stuff would not be tolerated in the congregations I play for - if a pastor tried that, he would be overruled in a hurry by the church council.
          Regards, Larry

          At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

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          • #21
            It's an interesting article I suppose, but she only makes one point that seems to be correct : "The problem is that most of the church in America looks more like America than the body of Christ.". Then she spends the rest of the article ranting about how the church must get in line with "the new thing that God is doing" to convince people that the church is relevant once again. Guess I don't agree with that that idea. Not that I have a good answer to declining church membership of course, but I sincerely doubt that hers is one either.

            The Church is IN the world, but it is not to be OF the world. The world changes; God does not.

            Regards, Larry

            At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

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            • #22
              It's amazing how little non-Catholics know about the hierarchy of the Roman Church. Chain of command.....Pope➡ Archbishop➡ Bishop➡ Priest➡ Layminister➡ all the rest of us worthless pieces of human trash...that's it. There is total authority, and even in that chain, the Archbishop has very little control over his Bishops, as they truly answer only to the Papal Office, and the Deacons/Laypeople have no authority either. The most efficient organizational structure in the world to manage 2 billion members. Parish councils and committees are for 'guidance' only.....what a joke.

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              • #23
                Originally posted by Larrytow View Post
                The world changes; God does not.
                How do you explain the New Testament?

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                • #24
                  I explain it with the fact that the Bible was written by men--and men chose what to include and what to exclude from it. As men are flawed, so is the Bible.

                  The New Testament changes God in that it changes what man believes about God.

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                  • #25
                    Hmmm. I'm kind of surprised that, given the community in which this topic has been raised .... well I admit to skimming posts to catch up. I might have missed the post(s) that speculated that an overall failure to maintain a high level of interest in, and the quality of the MUSIC MINISTRY, of churches at all sizes has led to the decline in membership. As I understand it, St. Thomas 5th Avenue, NYC is the wealthiest church in the U.S. by far, with over $2B in assets. I do not think it coincidental that, in its history, it has always maintained outlier standards even among the churches with highest standards for their Music Departments.

                    I can't think of the church I've served where the Pastor or Clergy Staff were not the ones given primary pride of place for putting the church on the map. The Clergy at St. Thomas 5th Ave. KNOW that they are not the draw, and it is made clear to them upon their admission to the ranks just who is really in charge. When I was cutting my teeth as a young starting out Church Musician it was common to expect Conservatory Credentials for a Senior or Junior Church Musician and the Senior Musician could expect a salary about 1/3 that of the Senior Pastor. Having no such credentials I couldn't hope for much more than traveling money for what I did.

                    That would have been around 1980. In 2021 churches still ask for an Undergraduate Degree for a desirable position and offer the salary of 1/8 to 1/10 of the Senior Pastor and call that fair. The instrument may well be a falling to bits three or four manual instrument. In 2004 I subbed for the Organist ... musician actually. At a church in NYC on Park Avenue South around 23rd St. I can't remember the name. It was very near to the United Federation of Teachers headquarters. An Episcopal Church with a huge four manual instrument of which perhaps four ranks were complete and four more had enough notes playing to use. It was a disaster. The incumbent used his keyboard to work with. He was far more talented than I was, but I would not have touched that instrument with a ten foot pole as my primary tool. Is that church going to thrive?

                    I would love to link this community to the work I do online while our church is in lockdown but it is too depressing. I am not proud of it. Most churches I come to I am the first organist in a long time who knows any Bach. Who can sight read ANY hymn written, and can modulate and/or free harmonize last verses. Choirs have been allowed to believe that Natalie Sleeth (no offense meant) is the epitome of four part choral writing. Choirs have been allowed to lose most, if not all, of their Bass and Tenor sections. Many women think they can sing Tenor but in reality they are few and far between.

                    Lockdown and working online has actually been a mixed blessing because I have been able to sing Bass and Tenor simultaneously due to the magic of multi-track recording. As I understand it, most churches are happy if 1/3 of their congregations listen to the online services they are streaming or recording on YouTube. Our congregation has 1/2 or more consuming our recorded services. Still, it would be even better if I had more to work with. Better production tools. Etc. I've said it before. If, instead of lowering the Music Budget to increase the Clergy compensation, the majority of churches decreased the Clergy compensation and increased the Music budget proportionally, they might then, have seen, a better outcome. I say 'have seen' because with few exceptions, none did this. So here we are. Once you lose your congregations they aren't coming back!

                    That is the thing most mainline church denomination headquarters aren't getting. They are working on 'Innovation and Revitalization'! Nope. The best that can be hoped for is maintenance of the existing cohort of congregants. And that is best done by giving them the best quality music that can be produced. I haven't come across the Pastor yet that has the chops to really pull a church by himself! I don't doubt that they exist, but they don't grow on trees. Our Pastor is paid like he is four times the pastor that he actually is. Over $70K/yr straight salary, plus housing, vehicle allowances and $20K/yr discretionary fund. I am getting $16K/yr, and glad to get it. My predecessor was getting $7K/yr without any raise for over 17 years! Trust me, no one is praising what the Pastor does on Sunday mornings. He has never heard the words:"Fine Sermon there Pastor __________!". I get emails all the time telling me I am the best thing coming out of those recordings. I am NOT saying this to brag. I am saying that a successful church requires BOTH great Clergy and Music Minsistry, but if it can have only one of those, then it should be the music where quality is maintained, and doing this, IMO is easier to accomplish. I do believe there are far more talented musicians than theologians in the country. But I admit a bias! This was not a good thread for me to have seen. Sorry.

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                    • #26
                      Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
                      At a church in NYC on Park Avenue South around 23rd St. I can't remember the name. ... An Episcopal Church with a huge four manual instrument of which perhaps four ranks were complete and four more had enough notes playing to use. It was a disaster.
                      Are you referring to Calvary Episcopal Church (now Calvary and St. George)? It is at 237 Park Avenue South at 21st Street. The 4 manual instrument was built by Aeolian-Skinner Organ in 1936(Opus 945) but it was modified by Hampton and Gilberti in 1984. The current musician has opera training. I know nothing of his keyboard skills.

                      Bill

                      My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

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