Music Notes

September 2018

After a brief July hiatus, the Music & Arts Ministry is about to come back up to full power again! The responsibility for leading our congregation in the music of worship is taken seriously by our church’s musicians, and it is a very demanding task. The month of July gives them a time to pause and recharge their batteries.

The Chancel Choir has already resumed rehearsals and their role in Sunday worship. I’m so proud of the dedication of these adult and high school-aged musicians. I constantly admire them and am grateful to them for their commitment to ministry through music. I’d also like to remind everyone that this is an open group, and new members are welcome at any time of the year, high school through senior adult.

The Cantata Choir began rehearsals on Sunday, August 26th, and these will continue each week through the presentation date. The choir rehearses every Sunday in the Choir Room from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. There will be a rehearsal with the orchestra on Sunday, December 9th, and the cantata will be presented on Sunday, December 16th, at 10:30 and 2:00.  The Cantata Choir is open to high school through senior adult, and you do not have to be a regular Chancel Choir member. Methodists from any of the Jasper-area churches are invited to sing with us. It’s a fantastic cantata (“One Incredible Moment”), with music by Tom Fettke and text by Max Lucado! (We provide music books and practice CDs for everyone.)

The Wesley Ringers (adult handbells) will resume their rehearsals on Monday, September 10th. We meet each week at 5:30. We have two openings in the group, and are looking for new ringers. It’s a very friendly, cooperative, and helpful group – ready to help a new ringer “figure it out!” Like the Chancel Choir, the group is open to high school through senior adult.

Our children’s music groups are also about to get underway. The Amazing Graces (children’s handchimes, grades 3-6) will begin on Thursday, September 13th, after school. The Sonshine Singers grades K-6 children’s choir (formerly called “Music Factory”) will begin on Wednesday, September 12th. The church will continue to provide van transportation from the public school campuses. Linda McTernan and Susan Stover will continue to lead the Amazing Graces, while Conya Koch and CeCi Gatlin will lead the activities time for Sonshine Singers, and Tod Lawlis will lead the music for the singers. Registration forms are available through the church office for both groups.

Finally, the Fine Arts Council will hold its fall meeting on at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, September 11th, in the Multipurpose Room (across from the Music Office).

We’re excited about music and ministry at FUMC! We have a place in our music “teams” for anyone in our church who wants to join us… and no one gets “benched!”

June 2018

June is a time of ending AND beginning in the Music Ministry of FUMC Jasper. All of our music ensembles are on a well-earned break for the month of July, but will return – ready and eager – in August. That means, however, that the choir loft will be a very empty and quiet place on Sundays in July. It doesn’t have to be, however! July is the month of “Sunday School Sunday Singers!”

For each Sunday in the month of July, I’d love to have a Sunday School class fill the choir loft and help in leading worship. Ideally, we would have a different class each Sunday. However, if two classes wanted to combine, they could share a Sunday. The class doesn’t have to sing an “anthem” unless it wants to.  (And no, you don’t have to wear robes!) If your class would like to sing special music (a Cokesbury hymn, for example), that would be great – but it’s certainly not required! Perhaps there’s a trio or quartet in your class who would like to sing. That would be fine. I’ll be visiting classes in the month of June to find out who would like to be “Sunday School Sunday Singers.” (By the way… Disciples class has already “claimed” July 15th. That leaves the 1st, 8th, 22nd, and 29th.)

We’re so blessed in our church with talent. Thank you to the adults of our music ministry who sing, play, and serve in the Chancel Choir and Wesley Ringers. Your dedication and willingness to serve our Lord through the gift of song is truly appreciated.  One of the highlights of our “music year” has to be Children’s Sunday, led by the Amazing Graces, Music Factory, and the many other worship roles into which our children took part. As we are told in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Speaking of talent, a big THANK YOU goes to all of the artists who contributed to “Works of Our Hands.” We were treated to an amazing display of art, beauty, skill, and craft. And a big “shout out” goes to Dianne Pace who led the charge in putting this year’s show together.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)


August 2017

“There’s Always Room for More!”

We are fortunate to have a group of well-established music ensembles in our church. For vocal music, we have the Chancel Choir and our children’s group, “Music Factory.” We have two instrumental ensembles, the “Wesley Ringers” (adult handbells) and “Amazing Grace” (children’s handchimes). But let’s not limit ourselves! There is always room for more in our family of music groups.

I’d like to throw out a few ideas to kick-start things. We have a gap in our music ministry. Kids are covered, adults are covered. What’s missing? Youth opportunities! There are any number of forms that youth music could take. Youth ensembles in the music ministry can take a more traditional form, such as a youth choir or youth handbells. But other ideas might work well, too. Maybe a few of our youth want to start a small vocal ensemble. There are plenty of opportunities for our youth to be a part of leading our worship through music – Youth Sundays, special music in regular Sunday worship, and the other musical events that take place throughout the church year.

We are a Music AND Arts Ministry after all, so what about some of the other arts? Maybe Readers Theater, for example. Do you have an idea for ministry in the arts? Share it with us!

I’m positive that we have some adult singers who don’t have the time to commit to weekly Chancel Choir rehearsals, but who would enjoy being in a small ensemble (male or female quartet or trio, mixed group, etc.).  We can do that!

And, as always, there’s the opportunity to sing in the annual Christmas Cantata. Rehearsals will begin in September on a brand new cantata, “The Christmas Story” by Tom Fettke.

Here’s the bottom line: let’s be creative! We have so much talent in our congregation.  The music ministry at FUMC doesn’t have to consist only of what we already have. Our choirs and instrumentalists are the backbone of our ministry, and we want to see them continue to grow, but we also want to explore and create additional avenues for worship through song.

If you have an idea that you would like to share with the music staff, feel free to send me an email ( or talk to me sometime about it. We would love to hear from you!

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)


July 2017

July will be a month of planning and preparation for the Music and Arts Ministry. As we prepare for the return of the Chancel Choir in August, along with our other music ensembles (Wesley Ringers, Amazing Graces, and Music Factory), we would love to see more of our congregation – of all ages! – involved in our programs. There is a place for everyone in the musical life of our church!  Chancel Choir rehearsals will resume on Wednesday, August 2nd, at 6:45 pm. We’ll have a chair and music folder for you!

In his book, “The Magnetic Music Ministry,” author Bill Owens outlines the characteristics of a dynamic church music program. In this article, I’d like to look at the first of these:  enhance worship.

“The principal role of the music ministry is to enhance the worship experience and thereby move persons into a closer relationship with God. In vocal music this occurs when effective Christian texts are delivered through motivating musical interpretations.” So often, and through no fault of the worshiper, we become complacent in the music aspect of our worship experience. It can happen in a well-know and oft-sung hymn, or a new chorus that we don’t know and tune out. Or maybe we’re just waiting for an anthem or offertory to entertain us. Our hymns of faith, passed down through generations of believers, are more than songs to be sung in the order of service. I encourage you to take a moment before each service begins and reflect. Read the bulletin, leaf through the hymnal, find the day’s hymns. Read the words and seek relevance for your worship experience or for your daily life. There is deep truth and meaning in so many of these songs of the church. When the worship music is new or unfamiliar, read the words before the service and think about the message and meaning. While singing a new melody may not be comfortable for you, it is still possible to find a moment of worship in the words. During the anthem or other special music, listen actively. Consider the words and their meaning. We need to always remember that as church musicians (choir members, soloists, instrumentalists), we are “presenting,” rather than “performing.” Our music is an offering to God, and an aid to personal worship. To those in the congregation: can the music evoke an emotional response? Yes. Should it be a source of entertainment? No.  Now, can I get an “amen?”

Our desire as a music staff is to continue to provide and lead meaningful worship in song, glorifying the great God whom we serve and who loves us. Music at First United Methodist Church will continue to be grounded in Christian faith, proclaiming the Word of God. We will seek God’s truth in as many musical forms and styles as we can!

One final word: watch for the Music & Arts mailing that will be coming soon. It has more information about our music programs at FUMC and how you can be a part of them!

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1)


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