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The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

Celebrating Judy Loehr

Rev. Judy Lee Wheeler Loehr (Oct. 10, 1942 - July 21, 2020) was a dear friend and ministry colleague, and we join her daughter Elise Loehr and other family members in grieving the sudden loss of this highly gifted, joyful, hospitable and compassionate servant of God. 

Judy LoehrWith her family’s permission, we invite Judy’s colleagues and friends around the Church and nation, to celebrate her birthday, October 10, by sharing here your own special memories of her. Photos, memories, event programs are all welcome. 

Judy’s rich and diverse educational, arts and ministry contexts included:

  • graduation from Baylor University;
  • active participation in Christian Arts, Inc., youth musical theater, Bonn, Germany;
  • diaconal ministry of music, Towson, MD;
  • five years as music ministry staff with the Section on Worship of the General Board of Discipleship, and liaison engagement with The Fellowship;
  • diaconal music ministry in Coral Gables, FL;
  • graduation from Vanderbilt Divinity School and subsequent ordination as Elder in the Tennessee Annual Conference;
  • pastor of 61st Street UMC, Nashville;
  • staff for The Liturgical Conference, Washington, DC, and pastor of a UM congregation in nearby Virginia;
  • retreat leadership at Scarritt-Bennett Center;
  • and, following retirement, residence in Lago Vista, Texas, with congregational music ministry and Lake Travis Music Theater.

She returned to the Nashville area to be near her daughter, continuing to graciously serve as needed until her death.

Judy’s vibrancy and buoyant spirit have inspired folks of all ages and situations for many decades, in many settings, as she has sung, taught, directed, preached and embodied both faithful Alleluia and Kyrie eleison. We remember her with gratitude.

Memorial Prayer

By Richard Eslinger

Merciful and loving God, at her baptism, your Holy Spirit graced your servant Judy with the gifts of music and song. These gifts came to full blossom in her singing and her encouragement of your faithful people in their hymns and songs and spiritual songs, and joyful dance. When the time was right, you called her to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, evoking other baptismal gifts for prophetic passion and pastoral compassion. Her legacy continues to bless and equip your people for their ministries that build up the Body of Christ and lead them in mission to your world. Her memory abides with us and we give you thanks for the gift of Judy to us and to your people. We bless you that you have blessed us with her service, her spirit of joy and caring, and her faith in you.

Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem.
Dona eis requiem sempi eternam.

(O sweet Lord Jesus, grant them rest;
grant them everlasting rest.)

Amen.

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David Bone

I remember the first time I me...

In 1989, I was working part-time in the Worship Section at the UM General Board of Discipleship, just a few 100 feet from where I ... Read More
Monday, 05 October 2020 16:59
Guest — Elise S. Eslinger

Memories shared by Rosalie Bra...

Judy was my dear friend, my mentor, the thumb in my back. If she called and said "come dance" my only answer was "where and when ... Read More
Tuesday, 06 October 2020 22:39
Guest — Virginia Tinsley

Worship Centers to Celebrate

I got to know Judy through the Southeastern Jurisdiction Urban Workers Network. Judy planned worship for our convocation. I will a... Read More
Wednesday, 07 October 2020 12:24
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Staffing Announcement from The Fellowship

It is with hearts full of gratitude and sadness that today we inform you that the national board of The Fellowship has received a letter from David Bone announcing his intention to retire from his position as Executive Director in 2021.

The specific timeline of this transition has not yet been finalized. While David is retiring from his work with The Fellowship, he does not plan to retire from all employment. We are grateful to David that he has given us this generous lead time as he discerns what the next chapter of his professional work life looks like.

David was hired as Executive Director nearly 30 years ago at Lake Junaluska during the national Convocation. Appropriately, we look forward to celebrating David's long tenure and faithful leadership at next year's 202One event – which will also be held at Lake Junaluska.

As The Fellowship enters this season of transition, know that we will be engaging in significant redefining and revisioning work as an organization. That process begins with our upcoming Prayer and Sabbath Retreat in August as we listen to where the Holy Spirit is leading us.

How can you support The Fellowship right now?

We encourage all Fellowship members to take at least one of these actions to help at this time.

  • Participate in the Prayer and Sabbath Retreat. If you have not yet responded to our invitation to join us in this time of online gathering, we would encourage you to do so.

  • Pray for The Fellowship and its leadership as well as David as we each discern our next best steps.

  • Stay connected with other members of The Fellowship through our Fellowship Community Facebook group. During times of transition, we especially need each other.

  • Renew your membership in The Fellowship. Early renewals will add one year from the current renewal date; if your renewal date is October 2020, it will be renewed to October 2021.

  • Consider making a donation to The Fellowship's Annual Fund.

We join David in the confidence that the Holy Spirit is going ahead of us to prepare the way for the next chapter of ministry and leadership for The Fellowship, and we prayerfully seek God's will for our future.

 

Kevin Presley,
Financial/Personnel Coordinator

Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor,
President

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From the President: Prayer and Sabbath Retreat

Dear Fellowship Friends,

Taylor LAOne of the treasured rhythms of the life of the Board of The Fellowship is a yearly face-to-face gathering in which we do the work of evaluating, visioning, and planning for a new season of ministry for and with music and worship artists.

This year we were not able to meet at Lake Junaluska during Music & Worship Arts Week. As I come to the end of my first year as President, at such a time in the life of the world as this, I am increasingly aware that The Fellowship needs a time of deep discernment, of quiet listening to God, before we begin the work of visioning and planning for our future.

I am equally aware that this is our work to do corporately, not just the work of The Fellowship Board alone. God is giving you dreams and visions as well.

Therefore, I am inviting you to join me in an online Prayer and Sabbath Retreat. This time of quiet, rest, prayer, and discernment will be held Thursday evening, August 13; Friday, August 14; and Saturday morning, August 15. All five sessions will be online via Zoom. The schedule for our time together is below.

I am convinced that this time of sabbath and discernment for The Fellowship as an organization is essential. My prayer is that each of us will benefit personally from this time of quiet focus as well. I'm counting on the wisdom of Isaiah 30:15 for all of us, "For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength."

Because Lake Junaluska, NC is a place where I am deeply connected with God, I will be facilitating this retreat from Lake Junaluska. I invite any who would like to join me there in person to come. We will, of course, observe appropriate physical distancing, wear masks, and meet outside as much as possible. I encourage those of you in other areas of the country to consider gathering with other members of The Fellowship who are near you at a place of deep spiritual connection for you.

Please respond to this invitation to let me know of your desire to participate in August, OR simply to keep The Fellowship in your prayers. Your response will also be necessary for us to make appropriate arrangements. 

Is God calling you to a time out for sabbath rest, for prayer and discernment? Will you join me in prayer for The Fellowship? I look forward to spending time with God together with you in August.

Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor,
National Fellowship President


Prayer and Sabbath Retreat Schedule

This retreat will function best if you are able to set aside most of your time from Thursday evening through Saturday morning. In the space between these online times of prayer, you will be invited to reflect, rest, and re-member and listen to God.

Thursday, August 13
Evening Prayer 9:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 CT / 7:00 MT / 6:00 PT

Friday, August 14
Morning Prayer 10:00 a.m. ET / 9:00 CT / 8:00 MT / 7:00 PT
Midday Prayer 2:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 CT / Noon MT / 11:00 am PT
Evening Prayer 9:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 CT / 7:00 MT / 6:00 PT

Saturday, August 15 
Morning Prayer 10:00 a.m. ET / 9:00 CT / 8:00 MT / 7:00 PT

 

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From the President: Heartbreak, Examination, and an Invitation

 

"It's up to all of us — Black, white, everyone — no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us." – Michelle Obama

 

Dear Fellowship Friends,

Taylor LALike many of you, I spent last weekend processing my own heartbreak and listening to the anguish of our African American siblings over the killing of George Floyd. Finally, Michelle Obama’s words (above) helped me formulate my response.

The thoughts I share below apply to my personal life, but I also know it’s my responsibility to help The Fellowship discern how these thoughts relate to our common worship ministries. How can we live out our motto, "Transforming the World Through Worship"?

Our national Board has been working to address our lack of relationships, both personal and corporate, with persons of color. We believe that strong relationships are one of the strongest components of The Fellowship, and that it is through relationships that transformation takes place.

While we have a Statement of Welcome that guides us, we cannot let that be our only response. Silence in this moment is complicity. A failure to practice self-examination and organizational examination perpetuates injustice and inequality.

On Monday morning I wrote:

The honest, uncomfortable work of rooting out racism:
Self-examination
Listening
Justice, Compassion, Empathy lived out

I have, as a middle class, heterosexual, educated, white, American woman benefitted from, participated in, and worked to perpetuate the systemic preference for and elevation of white people and the degradation of all others, specifically my African American siblings, my entire life.

I would add that admitting that is extremely painful and causes me much sorrow and shame. Some things have to die for something new to be born. Unless I am willing for my pride and place of privilege to die, I guarantee that nothing new will be born.

I wrote this series of questions for myself, but I want to challenge you to engage with these questions alongside me.

  • How are we perpetuating racism in all the systems that support our personal and organizational life?
  • How can we listen to the cry of our neighbors who bear the very image and likeness of God?
  • What is the next right step for me, for us, in our circles of influence, to live out justice, compassion, and empathy?
  • What are we afraid of?
  • Who are we afraid of offending?
  • What will we have to let go of?
  • Whose life is at stake if we don't?

This Thursday morning (June 3), I'll be hosting my biweekly "'Round the Table" Coffee Chat on Zoom at 11 a.m. ET / 10 a.m. CT / 9 a.m. MT / 8 a.m. PT. I believe it's extremely important for us to talk together about these questions and our responses, both individual and corporate. Or if you simply need a friendly word of support, you are welcome to join in. I welcome you to email me for connection info ... or, if you can't join us, reach out and we can find a time to talk.

My beautiful Fellowship friends, let us live out these closing words from our Statement of Welcome: Christ made no mistake in opening the table of grace to everyone. Therefore, our membership and its leaders commit to embrace one another with boundless compassion and affirmation so that the reign of God might be made known "on earth as it is in heaven."

Dear God, help me change. Help us change.
Dear God, have mercy on us and help us.
Amen.

Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor,
National Fellowship President

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Giving from the Heart: Annual Fund 2019

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My favorite hymn verse in all of Christendom is the final verse of Christina Rosetti’s "In the Bleak Midwinter." It reads:

What can I give Him poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would do my part.
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

There’s one thing I’m sure of, as each of you are leading worship arts ensembles of every kind in churches large and small across America to prepare for Advent and Christmas — you are giving your heart. And you are enabling the disciples in your charge to give their hearts in everything you do. The work you are doing will bless, heal, and enliven the hearts of those who worship with you. Can we imagine that the heart of the body of our Risen Christ is beating stronger, and that even the heart of God is blessed by our offerings?

LAT AnnualFundVideo

Ours is heart-lifting, life-changing, disciple-making work and The Fellowship believes it is critically important. We believe that it has, and is, and will make a world of difference, that you are making a world of difference by your faithful service. It is our mission to support you as you do it.

Therefore, it’s my joy to invite you, as you give your heart this Advent and Christmas season, to give your financial support to the work of The Fellowship. If you believe that ours is critically important work, I invite you to join me, as together we put our money where our hearts are, by contributing to the Annual Fund which supports the day-to-day work of The Fellowship.

Finally, here’s a prayer, full of gratitude, from my heart to yours:

Holy One, your faithful servants return week after week to gather up and craft the gifts of your children into beauty to offer You in worship. By your Holy Spirit, turn the ordinary water of their creativity into the wine of gladness, that the hearts of all those who come near will be blessed, healed, and enlivened. Fill their hearts with so much love that it will overflow, without boundary or hindrance, into all the world. Amen.

Peace and every good to you, my friends,
Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor, President, The Fellowship

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Dave Wiltse Named 2019 Copes Award Recipient

2019 Copes Presentation

Photo: Immediate Past-President Laura Jaquith Bartlett, right, presents the 2019 V. Earle Copes Award to Dave Wiltse, left, for his many years of service to The Fellowship, including 28 years as editor of WorshipArts magazine. (Fellowship photo by Daniel Craig)

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For his long-time service as editor of WorshipArts magazine, Dave Wiltse was named the recipient of the 2019 V. Earle Copes Award during The Fellowship's biennial business meeting held on Wednesday, July 17.

Presenting the award to Dave was Immediate Past-President Laura Jaquith Bartlett, who chronicled Dave's many contributions to The Fellowship.

"During my time on the council, I always appreciated Dave's wise insights, his sneaky wit, his passion for The Fellowship, and, most of all, his friendship," Laura said.

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Ruth Duck Named 2019 Deschner Award Recipient

2019 Deschner Award Presentation

Photo: Incoming National Fellowship President Leigh Anne Taylor, right, presents the 2019 Roger Deschner Award plaque to Brittney Stephan, left, who accepted the award on behalf of Ruth C. Duck. (Fellowship photo by Daniel Craig)

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a celebration that opened The Fellowship's 2019 Convocation in Kansas City, prolific hymn writer Rev. Dr. Ruth C. Duck was named the recipient of the 2019 Roger Deschner Award on Monday, July 15.

Receiving the award on Ruth's behalf was her student and Fellowship member, Brittney Stephan, who is currently serving as the Associate Director for Multi-Cultural Vibrancy for the Michigan Conference.

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What Gift Can We Bring? Celebrating Jane Marshall

Marshall-Anthem-FB_Twitter

“What gift can we bring, what present, what token?”

Jane Marshall (1924-2019), well-loved composer, teacher, and friend, brought great gifts of music to all who offer music in worship.

“What words can convey it, the joy of this day?

Those who knew or studied with Jane certainly have great joy in their remembrances of her. There would be few who have sung in a church choir over the last 50+ years who have not sung one of her pieces.

“When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing,
What song can we offer in honor and praise?” *

All sacred musicians are encouraged to offer a song in honor and praise of Jane and her impact on sacred music by including one of Jane’s compositions in worship during the weekend of Sunday, September 29.

  • If you have the choral forces, singing her anthem “My Eternal King” is strongly encouraged. (Carl Fisher CM6752; bit.ly/CM6752-MEK; numerous YouTube clips)
  • Choirs of fewer singers might consider the two-part anthem “Love, Joy, and Peace”. (Choristers Guild CGA503; bit.ly/CGA503)
  • Her hymn “What Gift Can We Bring” is found in several hymnals. Consult the Author index in your hymnal for other possibilities.
  • Or choose one of her many psalm refrains, settings, or instrumental compositions that are likely in your library.
  • If September 29 does not work in your situation, choose another day.

Please share this word via your own social and/or personal networks so that as many people as possible will know of this effort. This effort is being instigated by The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, but sacred musicians in all religious settings are encouraged to participate.

Questions? FellowshipOffice@UMFellowship.org


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there some special significance to September 29?
A: No, there isn't. But we wanted to choose a date that was soon enough to maintain interest, but also to give many choirs the chance to regroup after a summer break.

Q: Do we need to tell anyone what we are doing?
A: No, but we will be receiving comments on this post where you can share your plans, pictures, and video links.


 

* “What Gift Can We Bring,” Stanza 1, by Jane Marshall, 1980. © 1982 Hope Publishing Co. Used with permission.

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Keith Dyer

Dedication to Jane Marshall on...

At the past week's Choir Rehearsal at College Heights UMC in Lakeland, Florida, I reminded my choir about Jane Marshall including ... Read More
Monday, 16 September 2019 14:09
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We landed on using the current UMC Social Creed (http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/social-principles-social-creed) in the creed s... Read More
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From Carolyn Deuel: The Sanctuary Singers and congregation of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Casper, WY, will include Jane Mars... Read More
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A Statement of Welcome

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In 2017 at our National Convocation in Little Rock, members of The Fellowship passed a resolution which called upon the Fellowship Board to facilitate the writing of a Welcome Statement that would intentionally include all who need to hear that they are welcomed and valued at the table of Jesus Christ.

This was in response to the Convocation's theme: “Wake up! Worship. What's next?” which was inspired by the sixtieth anniversary of the attempt to integrate “The Little Rock Nine” into Central High School. A task force of diverse members was named to create an initial draft of this Welcome Statement.

The Board was also directed in the Little Rock resolution to engage in professionally-taught learning experiences that address cultural and systemic racism. During these experiences in 2018, the Board prayerfully worked to perfect the draft from the task force.

Believing that the time has come for making clear that The Fellowship is open to all, the Executive Board made final revisions and approved the Welcome Statement below on March 4, 2019.

In service to all, we present this statement as our best expression of the openness of Christ's table of grace as we wish to experience it as The Fellowship.

A Statement of Welcome

The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts is a community of diverse worship artists who are not of one mind on a wide range of theological and cultural issues. We acknowledge that we have been blessed by the gifts and presence of a variety of people. We covenant to uphold the sacred worth and dignity of all persons, without exception. We welcome all into membership and leadership in The Fellowship, including:

  • persons with divergent theological and political convictions, even as we seek to emphasize our connectedness and unity in Christ;
  • persons of all races, cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic conditions;
  • persons at all places on the spectrum of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression;
  • persons of various ages and life experiences, and persons who are differently abled.

Christ made no mistake in opening the table of grace to everyone. Therefore, our membership and its leaders commit to embrace one another with boundless compassion and affirmation so that the reign of God might be made known “on earth as it is in heaven.”

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National Conference for Sacred Music 2019

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The Fellowship is pleased to once again offer support for the upcoming National Conference for Sacred Music (NCSM), which will be held January 9-11, 2019, at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC.

Featured leaders include Music & Worship Arts Week 2019 choral clinician Pearl Shangkuan, as well as Al Travis (organ), Michael Burkhardt (worship and children's choral), Michael Morgan (congregational song), and Michael Glasgow (handbells).

NCSM, which is presented by Augsburg Fortress, MorningStar Music, and Hinshaw Music, is a unique event designed to engage church musicians with fresh new ideas and a variety of approaches to further your work in creating a vital, growing music ministry.

Visit the event website for additional information and plan on starting 2019 with us in Charleston!

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National Conference for Sacred Music

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The Fellowship is pleased to once again be a sponsor for the upcoming National Conference for Sacred Music (NCSM), which will be held January 3-5, 2018, at First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC.

We are also excited to have two of our leaders participating in the event through leading worship and presenting seminars.

Bone DavidDavid Bone, Executive Director of The Fellowship




Thompson JackieJacqueline Thompson, Fellowship member and elder in the Iowa Annual Conference




Featured clinicians include former Music & Worship Arts Week clinicians Heather Potter, Andre Thomas, and Ed Tompkins, as well as Isabelle Demers, and Zebulon Highben.

NCSM, which is presented by Augsburg Fortress, MorningStar Music, and Hinshaw Music, is a unique event designed to engage church musicians with fresh new ideas and a variety of approaches to further your work in creating a vital, growing music ministry.

Workshops and classes will be on topics including strategic planning, educating the congregation on worship, hymnody, choral techniques, organ, composition, handbells, and working with children.

Visit the event website for additional information and plan on starting 2018 with us in Charlotte!

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August 2017 Member of the Month: R. DeAndre Johnson

R. DeAndre Johnson serves at Christ Church Sugar Land (United Methodist) in Sugar Land, TX. In The Fellowship he has experienced the tremendous blessing of connecting and collaborating with colleagues in their quest to be more faithful to God’s call to make disciples for the transformation of the world. The Fellowship has offered him both practical ideas for ministry and reflections on the praxis of ministry, and has helped widen his field of focus, given energy, sparked creativity, and reminded him that he is not alone in the successes and failures of ministry.

Favorite worship resources include Sing of the World Made New: Hymns of Justice, Peace and Christian Responsibility (Hope Publishing); Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Bruggemann (Abingdon); Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (Faith Alive); Africana Worship Book: Year A, B, C (Discipleship Resources); and Africana Hymnal: Black Sacred Music (Abingdon).

This story illuminates DeAndre’s ministry:

A young mother in our congregation shared how God had transformed her and her family through worship. They had been wrestling with a call to adopt children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, they became overwhelmed by many barriers and obstacles. Soon after they had mostly decided to give up on their call, they were praying together at the altar rail after receiving communion when the congregation began to sing: “For everyone born, a place at the table ... a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing.... and God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace...” In that moment, everything they had been praying for seemed to coalesce into a singular answer: “Yes!” They responded to the invitation to provide “a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing...” for others, especially orphans in the DRC. Today, after a two-year struggle, their family of five is complete with 2 precious siblings from the DRC.

The ministries of Fellowship members overflow with powerful witnesses to the Spirit at work through worship arts.

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July 2017 Member of the Month: Andrew Davis

Because Fellowship members Jim and Jean Strathdee made it possible for their intern and pastor to attend the 2011 convocation in Colorado Springs, the intern experienced The Fellowship on the “you had to be there” level, and The United Methodist Church gained one who answered the call to ministry at that event. While “on the mountain,” Andrew Davis first experienced the relationships that many cite as one of The Fellowship’s greatest blessings and in 2012 he enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. For him the greatest benefits of membership include those relationships and the added bonus of networking and idea sharing. 

Andrew currently serves as pastor of Community United Methodist Church in Quincy, CA, where his duties include preaching, pastoral care, shepherding the church’s lay leadership, worship planning in collaboration with the music directors, participating in the church’s singing and ringing choirs and serving as co-convener of the California/Nevada Chapter of The Fellowship. 

His favorite worship resources include those available through Discipleship Ministries (umcdiscipleship.org/worship), WorkingPreacher, Textweek, The United Methodist Music & Worship Planner, and The Fellowship’s WorshipArts magazine. He also finds time for theater, gardening, hiking, fishing and travel.

When asked to name a successful area of his ministry, Andrew shared the joy of journeying with others who become passionate about worship and spiritual growth as they are transformed by their relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior. In retrospect, Andrew’s motivation for joining The Fellowship in 2003 came at the suggestion of a choir director who became a mentor and knew Andrew wanted to develop skills as a musician. He wishes other leaders were aware of the many resources available through The Fellowship that include opportunities for training. As Andrew pays forward the opportunities offered to him by other Fellowship members, may every member do likewise. 

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June 2017 Member of the Month: Nancy Webb

Her experience of growing up immersed in the exceptional music ministry of First UMC, Anderson, IN, influenced Nancy Webb’s call to ministry and prompted her to join The Fellowship years ago. Now retired, Nancy first served as a Consecrated Lay Worker (Director of Christian Education) for four years, followed by 35 years as an appointed United Methodist pastor in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Nancy continues to serve as a member of the steering committee for BWARM (Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling Methodists).  Last July she completed her term as chair of the Baltimore-Washington Conference Commission on Disability Concerns. She also participates in a retired clergy study group that reads and discusses books addressing current social issues from a theological and biblical point of view. 

As she reflects on her ministry, Nancy is thankful for her ability to identify and empower the gifts of laity. Since macular degeneration has compromised her vision since childhood (all of her lessons were read aloud from the 7th grade through college and two seminary degrees), each of her rural and urban congregations provided readers and drivers. Nancy and her congregations bear witness that many gifts and one Spirit do become the Body of Christ. Two favorite worship resources are The United Methodist Worship and Music Planner and The Common English Women’s Bible (2016).   

She wishes both clergy and laity understood that The Fellowship benefits not only church musicians, dancers, and artists, but also pastors. Nancy envisions church staffs that know the richness of working collegially and where all are enriched through mutual respect and collaboration. In addition, Nancy treasures both immediate and long-term benefits of Fellowship convocations where all join in song and story.

Nancy Webb personifies how one with limited sight provides powerful vision and leadership to a church whose mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

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From the President: 'Not Again?'

Sigh. It’s time for yet another president’s column. You’re thinking, “Is she really going to say anything noteworthy this time?” I’m thinking, “Didn’t I just write one of these? What can I possibly think of to fill the space? I guess I’d better just churn out something and get this checked off my to-do list.”

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration (at least, on my part!). But don’t we all experience that feeling of “not again?” when faced with a routine task – no matter how important that task may be? Take worship planning and preparation, for example. Sunday just keeps coming! Every. Single. Week. We just went through this last week; how can we come up with words and music and movements and rituals and images that are new and fresh once again? The temptation to just dial it in gets pretty strong at times.

And yet, I can think of at least a couple of reasons that we worship artists can still muster up excitement week in and week out. As Easter People, we are entrusted with the most amazing, un-boring, complacency-fighting narrative in all the universe! There is absolutely nothing status quo about the story of God’s incarnational love living here in our midst even today. The Gospel alone is motivation enough to bust out of our ho-hum task-oriented liturgical ruts and bring our best creative energy to the awesome privilege of designing and leading worship.

But I also understand that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under-resourced in this calling. And that’s where The Fellowship can help in battling the monotony of the mundane. Our new website (but same address: UMFellowship.org) has a terrific collection of resources that will be growing significantly over the next months. Our annual Music & Worship Arts Week is just around the corner; if you don’t feel fired up after a week at Lake Junaluska with a few hundred creative worship fans then you must have been asleep in your room the whole time! Awaken 2017 is July 24-27 in Little Rock; it will absolutely wake you up to new ways to plan worship and new ways to fight complacency.

But our members themselves are the very best tool for breaking out of whatever rut may have you trapped. If you’re part of a chapter, call your leaders for ideas about connecting with others in your chapter for support. Regardless of where you are, take the initiative to invite a colleague out to share a beverage and “talk shop” together (see how you can make this effort part of our 60+ONE project). Call the national office to ask about getting more involved in The Fellowship. Or email me (FellowshipLaura@gmail.com) for ideas about connecting with the wonderfully creative worship artists who make up The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. When we pool our creativity and liturgical gifts, it’s the best antidote imaginable for complacency!

-- BeTheFellowship, Laura Jaquith Bartlett

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

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May 2017 Member of the Month: Trenton Teegarden

May Fellowship Member of the Month Trenton Teegarden serves as Minister of Contemporary Music and Worship Arts at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock, AR, where he plans and leads two modern-style services on Sunday mornings followed by Sunday evening youth worship.

He joined The Fellowship because he wanted to collaborate with other people who share his call and cites relationships facilitating shared joys and challenges of worship arts ministry as the greatest benefit of membership. Trenton credits the collegiality and encouragement of The Fellowship's diverse and creative membership for inspiring his growth as a worship leader. As an emerging worship professional, he values mentorship opportunities with "more seasoned" members.

A man of diverse interests, Trenton's hobbies include golf, European football (soccer), and cooking.

Since his arrival at Pulaski Heights UMC in January 2016, Trenton has introduced the congregation to sung communion responses, a new monthly practice for them.

Trenton's favorite worship resources include:

We celebrate Trenton as a Member of the Month who embodies the essence of the Fellowship spirit: diversity, creativity, relationship, mutual support, and collaboration.

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

The big news around FellowshipLand these days is … our new Bylaws were approved! What? That’s not the hottest topic in your life?! Okay, to be honest, it’s not really the most compelling conversation starter for your National Council members, either. But we are genuinely excited by the possibilities for new energy, new efficiency, and new leadership afforded by this new structure that our membership has just approved. So even though I’m sure you carefully read every word in the Bylaws and Standing Rules proposal when you voted, allow me to sketch out what I see as the highlights:

  • Monthly gatherings (via videoconference) of the “working groups.” We thought long and hard about what to title these three new entities in our organization. We finally landed on “working groups,” because that’s exactly what they’ll be doing—each of these small groups will be focused on designing and implementing the tasks that accomplish the to-do list of a national organization. These folks will oversee everything from crafting the operational budget to brainstorming possibilities for long-range financial planning to strategizing about our staffing needs (the Administration Working Group); from resourcing our chapters to running the 60+ONE initiative to dreaming up new ways for our members to connect (the Community Working Group); from producing outstanding events to ensuring that each issue of WorshipArts includes a wide variety of creative arts to vetting the resources available on our website (the Content Working Group). Each group will partner with a variety of committees and teams to help with the work, and they’ll also have the option of deploying new small groups or volunteers for short-term projects.

  • A new board (the Executive Board) that will also meet monthly via videoconference. Regular, two-way internal communication is a hallmark of our new structure. The Executive Board includes our new vice-presidents, who are the leaders of each of the working groups. This will make it easy for the small groups to know what each other is up to, in order to avoid duplication and the temptation to slip into silos. The Executive Board is also charged with making sure that all this good work and creative energy is actually helping us stay true to our mission and vision.

  • What’s next? At Awaken 2017, our national convocation in Little Rock this summer (you are registered for it, right?), our new national leaders will be installed. But meanwhile: we are in the midst of balloting for our four elected positions: President-Elect (Shawn Gingrich, the current president-elect, will assume the presidency in July at the end of Awaken 2017), Vice-President of Content, Vice-President of Community, and Vice-President of Administration. If you haven’t yet voted, please do so today! And there are still a few more days to complete the self-nomination form if you believe you have gifts to offer The Fellowship in one of the appointed positions: we are seeking to fill Coordinator positions for Events; Publications & Media; Membership; Chapters; Finance/Personnel; and Development; along with a Recording Secretary. Even if you are not interested in a position for the next two years, let us know about your long-range interest as we seek to develop leadership for the future.

This is YOUR Fellowship! And we are working hard to be an organization that celebrates its heritage but is looking forward with confidence and faith. If you have comments or questions about our new structure, please let me know: FellowshipLaura@gmail.com.

-- Laura Jaquith Bartlett, president

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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 FellowshipLaura@gmail.com.)

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 FellowshipOffice@UMFellowship.org).

  • 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 David.Bone@UMFellowship.org 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 FellowshipOffice@UMFellowship.org.

  • 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 FellowshipLaura@gmail.com 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 (ministrymatters.com), 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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