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The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

From the President: Changes ...

Two days before Christmas, my spouse received the news that he has been selected to be the new executive director of camp & retreat ministry for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference — meaning that very soon we will be leaving the retreat center where we’ve lived and worked for the last eight years, we’ll somehow find, purchase, and move into a new home, Todd will start a new job, and I’ll be in need of a new appointment. Change: eek!!!!

Even when the changes are exciting and full of promise, it is difficult to leave behind the familiar, comfortable patterns. Change brings stress simply because it’s change. We worship artists are well aware of the challenge of change within a worship context. Whether it’s changing the color of the sanctuary carpet, starting a new worship service, switching to a different sound system, or simply introducing a new hymn, worship changes can easily backfire unless they are handled with sensitivity, education, and pastoral care. Because, you know, change…

The Fellowship is in the midst of a change. By the time you read this, you may have already completed your ballot, indicating whether you choose to support a new way of structuring the administrative and leadership elements of this organization. I hope you are choosing “yes”! This is a leap of faith. We do not know for sure whether this new system will serve us well. We may not be sure we’re ready to let go of the old familiar structure and terminology. But we do know that the church and the culture are both changing, and we need to adapt if The Fellowship is to remain healthy. So we’re preparing to change: to say goodbye to the old constitution that has been our governing document for many years, and to embrace a new set of bylaws with a new way of configuring our leadership.

For me, sharing stories is one of the ways I cope with the stress of change. Keeping memories alive reassures me that the past — relationships, experiences, learnings — travels with me into whatever new adventure awaits, because I have been shaped by what I’ve encountered along the way. I invite you to share your stories with me about memories of The Fellowship through the years. I also hope that you will be interested in sharing your gifts through the new opportunities for leadership that will come, if the membership approves this change. (Contact me at

I remember moving to a new community when our first daughter was two. After all the boxes and furniture were in the truck, we went from room to room saying good-bye, sharing memories, and affirming that we would still be together in our new home. It was an important ritual for our toddler – and also for her parents! That’s what we do as worship artists each week. As our world changes around us, we create and lead rituals that allow the community to share stories and affirm that God’s love never changes.

-- BeTheFellowship, Laura Jaquith Bartlett

(NOTE: This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of WorshipArts.)

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From the President: What's Happening in The Fellowship?

Your National Council has been hard at work over the last few months, in spite of a dearth of reporting from your president. Not to worry, I won’t try to summarize everything. But here are some highlights (and if you want more details, or have any questions, contact the Fellowship office at

  • At a “routine” Council conference call in early December, we managed to surprise Executive Director David Bone with a party and special presentation honoring his 25 years of service at the helm of The Fellowship! Council members kicked off a new fund to endow the executive director position in honor of David. Fellowship members will have the opportunity to contribute to this fund soon.

  • David Bone spent several days in Phoenix, Arizona, recently with the worship staff of Discipleship Ministries. The Fellowship is collaborating with DM to offer a national worship event in the Western Jurisdiction. David also had the opportunity to meet with all the Directors of Connectional Ministries for each U.S. annual conference. This is a significant step in our work of increasing the visibility of The Fellowship within the annual conference structure. If you have a leadership role in your own annual conference, please contact David at to talk about how you can be part of this connectional effort.

  • We’ve created a new membership category specifically to help multiple members of a church staff access the benefits of The Fellowship for just one monthly fee, which is a savings over the individual annual fee. Part of the motivation for this new plan is to encourage collegiality amongst worship leaders in the same congregation.

  • And once you become a member, you also become part of the amazing web of support and connections with worship artists across the country. Check out our new Member of the Month feature in WorshipArts and on the web, and feel free to let us know more about yourself if you’d like the opportunity to be highlighted as a Member of the Month sometime in the future.

  • Journey 2017 is the theme for Music and Worship Arts Week June 25-30 at Lake Junaluska. The design team is pulling together another amazing event with fabulous leadership!

  • Have you participated in a Fellowship webinar yet? Our Events Coordinator (Joan FitzGerald) has teamed up with other Fellowship leaders to create a variety of webinars to supplement our other resources. You can find them here on our new website!

  • Which brings me to….our new website!! Our Communications Director, Carla Swank Fox, has brought her expertise (and a LOT of hours of work!) to finally realize our long-held dream of a website that can be easily viewed on any device, and that has the power to store a variety of worship resources that can be accessed by our members as well as other interested users. This part of the website is still in its infancy, so if you have resources you’d like to see, or resources you’d like to contribute, let us know at

  • If you have not yet registered for the national convocation in Little Rock this summer, do it now! Not only will the event offer the usual fellowship, worship, and a plethora of training opportunities in a myriad of worship arts areas, but it will also be a time to wake up to the injustice and fear in our world, to be shaped as the community of Christ in worship, and then to explore together, “what’s next?” You won’t want to miss it!

As you can tell, there is a LOT happening in your Fellowship! And I’m always interested in what’s happening in your life as a worship artist, so please write to me at and let me know.

-- Laura Jaquith Bartlett, president

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April 2017 Member of the Month: Rebecca Boggan

Pastor of Discipleship and Hospitality at First United Methodist Church, Bentonville, AR, Rebecca credits The Fellowship with her spiritual and musical growth over the years. She cites conversations with other musicians and worship leaders as well as worship and classes at the biennial convocations as both the greatest benefits of membership and her most cherished Fellowship memories. 

Among her favorite worship resources are Abingdon’s worship annuals and planners, Ministry Matters (, the Wild Goose Resource Group, Choristers Guild, and Hope Publishing Company. Rebecca measures success through helping her choir members grow in faith as they create good music for Sunday worship. She wishes everyone knew that The Fellowship offers resources not only to musicians, but also to all who lead worship.

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March 2017 Member of the Month: Bryan Babcock

Ask Bryan Babcock, The Fellowship’s March Member of the Month, about the greatest benefit of membership, and his response focuses on “the community of those who desire to create worship that stimulates the heart, mind, soul and aesthetic spirit.”

Babcock Bryan300In his 36th year as Director of Music at Maynard Avenue UMC – a reconciling congregation near Ohio State University in Columbus, OH – Bryan not only leads the music each Sunday, but also designs worship several times a year.  A church member since 2000 and involved in its life on many levels,  he credits much of his success to supportive clergy who value music in worship and welcome eclectic styles drawn from many traditions including repertoire gleaned from his role as a musical director for local theatre productions.

Bryan describes The Fellowship as a catalytic resource and an agent for spurring creativity. Its commitment to providing excellent resources for worship leaders is matched by the affirmation provided to members.  

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