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Minister of Music compared to MD/Organist who "develops the music ministry"

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  • crapmaster
    replied
    Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
    "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one" -S'chn T'gai Spock. It should not be for the priest(s), minister(s) and/or other clergy to be burdened with the cognitive dissonance of allowing a non-believer or Agnostic in a Ministerial role in their Faith Community. No matter how discreet they are it would eventually seep out to the wider worshiping body that such is the case, and in the more progressive situations it probably would not lead to calls for dismissal but, still ... week in/week out ... accepting musical direction from someone openly questioning the core precepts and beliefs? Really? I'm sorry. I've watched this thread for weeks and since it hasn't died a death and gone away I am moved to venture an opinion. I for one feel obligated to adopt a personal and professional posture that is in complete support and accordance with the norms of my employment. I don't say Grace or Pray aloud at home, but I do at church. We rotate around the choristers that are comfortable leading a dismissal prayer at weekly rehearsal and I am always ready to take a turn. Anything else would be unthinkable. My comfort is secondary to theirs. They are paying me. There is a big difference between a chorister who is not comfortable leading group prayer (there may be several such) and a Minister of Music unable or unwilling to do so.
    Nothing is ever going to "seep out" in my church unless someone asks me about it, which they never have in my many years as a church musician. I participate fully in all aspects of worship. I attended worship daily for years in the denomination I work in and I 100% respect their beliefs, including those that I don't share. And my work is almost entirely about *their* beliefs - not mine. My role is to find and offer music that enhances their experience. I love working in the church - I love the rhythms and celebrations of the church year. I love the way the church brings people together and creates community. I love being a part of creating the worship experience. My own beliefs have gradually changed over the years, but my work has not been compromised as a result.

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  • Steve Freides
    replied
    @Leisturm, some people say every word of every service, serve as Scripture readers, show up at church functions they're under no obligation to attend, solicit donations for the church rummage sale, and the list goes on, while not being willing to say they subscribe to all the articles of the church's faith. If one acts, from the heart, as if everything the church is doing and trying to do is important and God's work, does it matter what name one assigns to his/her religious beliefs?

    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but it sounds like you're responding to someone or something in particular, which isn't what I've taken away from this thread. My take-away is that the solution has to work for all the involved parties, and if a particular minister and minister of music and/or music director are comfortable with their respective beliefs and with working together, who is any of us to say they're wrong? The point, made above in the thread, is that not all ministers of music are, in fact, expected to act like clergy - there is sometimes, to use your phrase, a cognitive dissonance between what would be a reasonable understanding of the meaning of the words in the job title and the actual obligations, including beliefs, of the job to which that title refers.

    Live Long and Prosper.

    -S-

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  • Leisesturm
    replied
    "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one" -S'chn T'gai Spock. It should not be for the priest(s), minister(s) and/or other clergy to be burdened with the cognitive dissonance of allowing a non-believer or Agnostic in a Ministerial role in their Faith Community. No matter how discreet they are it would eventually seep out to the wider worshiping body that such is the case, and in the more progressive situations it probably would not lead to calls for dismissal but, still ... week in/week out ... accepting musical direction from someone openly questioning the core precepts and beliefs? Really? I'm sorry. I've watched this thread for weeks and since it hasn't died a death and gone away I am moved to venture an opinion. I for one feel obligated to adopt a personal and professional posture that is in complete support and accordance with the norms of my employment. I don't say Grace or Pray aloud at home, but I do at church. We rotate around the choristers that are comfortable leading a dismissal prayer at weekly rehearsal and I am always ready to take a turn. Anything else would be unthinkable. My comfort is secondary to theirs. They are paying me. There is a big difference between a chorister who is not comfortable leading group prayer (there may be several such) and a Minister of Music unable or unwilling to do so.

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  • crapwonk
    replied
    Originally posted by Horseshoe_or View Post
    I am a retired bishop...
    For reference, what denomination?

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  • Steve Freides
    replied
    Originally posted by Horseshoe_or View Post
    I am a retired bishop. I would find it impossible to have a minister of music who did not believe in the statements in the Creed. It is interesting that denominations that don't hold to the Creed are dying and that all the mega churches, while they don't recite the Creed their teachings are in line with it, are flourishing. I am a strong supporter of religious liberty and have friends who pay no attention to the Creed in their religious beliefs but to have someone in a position of leadership working with me in a church setting who questioned the Creed would be a real problem.
    @Horsehoe, here we return to my original question at the start of this thread. I asked because the sound of "minister" of anything isn't something I'm comfortable with in church as applied to me.

    What I've learned in the couple of dozen posts in this thread is that the title, "minister of music," means different things to different people, congregations, and denominations. I appreciate and respect your point of view and thank you for sharing it here. It's a pleasure to hear from someone with strongly held religious beliefs who is also a "strong supporter of religious liberty." The world would benefit from having more such people.

    -S-

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  • Steve Freides
    replied
    Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
    The older I get, the more I believe that nearly all the judgments and barriers and categories and sins and such that we have been taught and preached to about are phony, that God is not bothered by the various differences among his human children in most areas of behavior other than the way we treat one another. If we love one another and treat one another fairly and without prejudice and judging, God is surely pleased.
    I love this.

    -S-

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  • Horseshoe_or
    replied
    I am a retired bishop. I would find it impossible to have a minister of music who did not believe in the statements in the Creed. It is interesting that denominations that don't hold to the Creed are dying and that all the mega churches, while they don't recite the Creed their teachings are in line with it, are flourishing. I am a strong supporter of religious liberty and have friends who pay no attention to the Creed in their religious beliefs but to have someone in a position of leadership working with me in a church setting who questioned the Creed would be a real problem.

    Leave a comment:


  • jbird604
    replied
    Interesting point made up there somewhere about the often limited experiences of pastors. I'd not thought of it that way, but it is very much the truth. So many of them have lived in an "ivory tower" all their lives, having been "special" since childhood, protected, growing up in deeply pious families, then straight to seminary and bypassing the world of the common folk, never having to confront difficult issues. No wonder many of them just can't understand people who don't fit the mold that they think God casts us all in.

    Not all pastors grow up like that of course. Some come from very un-spiritual backgrounds or spend part of their life in other careers or even in "sin" before getting the call. But sometimes even the ones who have "been there and done that" still don't want to emphathize with folks whose spiritual outlook doesn't match the one they've adopted since they "got right with God."

    The older I get, the more I believe that nearly all the judgments and barriers and categories and sins and such that we have been taught and preached to about are phony, that God is not bothered by the various differences among his human children in most areas of behavior other than the way we treat one another. If we love one another and treat one another fairly and without prejudice and judging, God is surely pleased.

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve Freides
    replied
    Originally posted by regeron View Post
    Then again, come to think of it, no pastor has actually seriously asked me about my understanding of spiritual matters; either because they're afraid to, or they think it'll just be a waste of time - because I'm not ordained, there's no way I could have any kind of opinion that counts.
    Interestingly, I had such conversations with several members of my congregation, and I did have one with the minister at the time who hired me - at the time of my hiring, it was me who started the conversation because I really wanted my point of view to be known.

    -S-

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  • voet
    replied
    Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
    RE: being honest with the priest... I wouldn't encourage you to do otherwise, especially if you know him well enough to trust him with a spiritual matter like that, and trust him not to have a knee-jerk reaction. It may be perfectly good to be fully open with one priest or pastor, and then turn out to be disastrous to do the same with another one.
    John, thank you for sharing your story. It was very moving. I am glad you have found a place where you found acceptance.

    I have been very fortunate to have worked with clergy who I always felt I could confide in. Perhaps the most dramatic incident involved a priest in the Episcopal church. I had been director of music for a small Episcopal church in a small town for 10 years. During this time, my religious views gradually changed. It started when I felt uncomfortable saying some of the things in the creed that I did not believe. Because the organ and choir were in the front of the church, it would be obvious if I stopped saying the creed, so I went to the back of the church during the sermon and stayed there until after the creed was recited.

    Later, I began to feel hypocritical receiving communion. Eventually I stopped. While people noticed that, I was never questioned about it. However, when a new priest arrived, I felt I needed to be open with her about where I was in this matter. I did not want her to think that I had a problem receiving communion from a woman, so I scheduled an appointment with her and told her my story. At the end I said, "I realize that you may not want me to continue here as Director of Music." She responded that she understood and that it was OK adding "I've been there."

    I realize that in some churches I would have been asked to leave. I appreciate her acceptance and realize that it was indeed a gift to me.

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  • voet
    replied
    Originally posted by regeron View Post
    I find a number of organists (especially those who have worked in a variety of denominations) to have spiritual lives that are more mature and well-developed than some pastors I've run into. Said pastors might have grown up in one or two congregations, did their studies, then started preaching on their own. Their spiritual experiences have been so limited that I feel they have unintentionally short-changed themselves, and in turn, they will short-change their congregations.
    In my last church position, the pastor had a party for the staff at Christmas time. The youth pastor thought it would be fun to play games, so she created a quizz of our Bible knowledge. (Not exactly my idea of a fun way to relax during the holidays.) The interesting thing is that my spouse and I had the highest scores. It was evident that we knew the Bible better than our pastor, who had been trained in seminary and had been a pastor for about 40 years.

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  • regeron
    replied
    I find a number of organists (especially those who have worked in a variety of denominations) to have spiritual lives that are more mature and well-developed than some pastors I've run into. Said pastors might have grown up in one or two congregations, did their studies, then started preaching on their own. Their spiritual experiences have been so limited that I feel they have unintentionally short-changed themselves, and in turn, they will short-change their congregations.

    In such situations, the organists have all confided in me and others about the breadth of their own spiritual knowledge and understanding, but would never declare the same to their less-experienced pastors, and these pastors would never acknowledge their own relative lack of experience, instead claiming that because they are "moved by the spirit" they don't need anything else.

    A modern example of "The Emperor's New Clothes."

    Not all pastors fall into this category.

    Then again, come to think of it, no pastor has actually seriously asked me about my understanding of spiritual matters; either because they're afraid to, or they think it'll just be a waste of time - because I'm not ordained, there's no way I could have any kind of opinion that counts.

    But I don't mind. During this morning's sermon, the pastor contradicted himself without knowing it, saying that we need to leave our intellect at home and instead worship with our emotions, then he continued by saying we have to worship God with our whole being - heart, MIND, and soul. He hates applause in church, wishing that we sit quietly after a moving solo or choir anthem, yet he wants us to get to a place of 'moving with the spirit', even dancing if we were so moved.

    I pretend to take sermon notes, but in reality I'm doing my to-do lists for the week.

    Returning to the original question about Minister of Music as a title. I believe that the expectations of a Minister of Music are different than a Director of Music or Organist; there is an implication of spiritual leadership. This expectation does not, however, prevent anyone with a different title from providing the same spiritual leadership. I firmly believe that my choices of instrumental, choral, congregational and soloist's music have a very direct effect on the spiritual life of our whole church community. I'm a Director of Music, with no desire to be a Minister of Music.
    Last edited by regeron; 04-22-2018, 08:21 PM. Reason: grammar and word choices for clarity

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  • jbird604
    replied
    RE: being honest with the priest... I wouldn't encourage you to do otherwise, especially if you know him well enough to trust him with a spiritual matter like that, and trust him not to have a knee-jerk reaction. It may be perfectly good to be fully open with one priest or pastor, and then turn out to be disastrous to do the same with another one.

    Back in 2010, my wife and I were fairly happy and secure in the church where we'd been highly involved, had good friends, had raised our kids, taught classes, and led the music program as volunteers for 17 years. A relatively new pastor was in place, one who was admittedly far too conservative for us, but we were tolerating him best we could and keeping out of his way. But we deeply disagreed with him on a very personal issue involving the sexuality of two very close family members, and could hardly contain our anger when he made crude and hateful homophobic remarks in the pulpit, even though he didn't know about our situation specifically and was not directing them at us.

    Eventually I felt like I could confide in him and that he just might be more open than I'd thought, that he might be willing even to moderate his own beliefs. But no. Within hours of my honest attempt to come clean and level with him I was being told to surrender my keys and get my stuff out of the church and that I would not be allowed to play the organ or have any role other than a pew-warmer until I "repented" and came to my senses and agreed with him. That was the end, of course.

    And it turned out to be for the best, or at least we made the best of it. We found a new place to worship and minister in another city, where we and our family are 100% accepted and affirmed, and enjoy our ministry immensely, though we still miss our friends from the old church and the town we had adopted as our own. So just be careful and don't over-share unless you are fully prepared for the consequences!

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  • Steve Freides
    replied
    @crapmaster - great forum username - your story is good to hear.

    -S-

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  • crapmaster
    replied
    My title is Minister of Music and I have no education or experience that relates to being any kind of minister. I believe in God, but wouldn't identify myself as Christian. I think the priest does assume I'm a true believer, but he's never asked about it. If it came up in conversation I would be honest with him. Truthfully, I think the only reason he chose that particular title (and it was a recent change - my predecessor's title was Director of Music) is because the staff musician has little say over what music we use, so I don't really "direct" anything but am expected to give input on the program - thus it's more than just "organist." (no choir)

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