It has been observed that clergy and musician may be the most crucial leadership and pastoral team within the life of the church. At the heart of their work is the creation and implementation of worship services that are fresh, inspirational, historically rooted and biblically centered, liturgical, winsome and accessible, observant of the church year and relevant to current events and congregational life. Quite a task!
Demonstrating how this ecclesiastical relationship can work effectively in shared ministry were four clergy/musician teams at the February 28 panel discussion, held at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Members of this panel included Rev. Daniel Ruen and Mark Bowman of Grace Lutheran Church, Evanston; Rev. Sue Sommer and Julia Brueck of St. David’s Episcopal Church, Glenview; Rev. Craig Mueller and David Brackley of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chicago; and Rev. Erin Raska of First Presbyterian Church, Wilmette. The program was ably moderated by Dr. Ron Anderson, professor of worship and director of the Music Ministry program at Garrett.
The presentations were excellent, insightful and compelling, coming out of real life experiences. Particularly emphasized was the need for highest mutual trust and respect, to be mutually empowering and synergistic, to understand and fully accept each other with different personality types and working styles and to exhibit patience, flexibility and openness. Musicians were challenged to see their work as pastoral and a sense of calling, rather than imply a music position.
Disappointing was the rather small audience turnout for these fine presentations on a crucial topic for the church. Yet, for those in attendance, much “food for thought” and valuable insights were proffered that can be most beneficial to the worship and music ministries of local church.
Below are some comments from board members who attended the program:
Christine Kraemer: We owe thanks to board member Royce Eckhardt and AGO member Ron Anderson (Garrett faculty) for recruiting four outstanding clergy/musician teams and providing the teams with substantive topics and questions about shared ministry to prepare for the event. One of the teams performed a skit depicting their first planning meeting—a younger Lutheran pastor and a Methodist musician with 40 years of experience—humorous but illustrative of two very different personalities getting to know one another. Advice from another Lutheran team: don’t assume that you have to depart from traditional liturgy and music to attract new members. Young people in their Lakeview congregation prefer traditional worship! Also, church musicians were encouraged to mentor young musicians with an interest in church music. Clergy have seminaries, but there are no longer many training programs for church musicians. Ron Anderson described Garrett’s Ministry of Music Master’s program.
Lee Nelson: All four pastor/musician couples presented excellent points, well thought out, new insights, even more compelling than previous discussions. What I especially noticed about all four teams was the high respect and trust they had for each other. This is so important for a successful working relationship between pastor/musician. Ron Anderson was a great host and moderator and kept the discussion moving.
Sharon Peterson: The Clergy and Musician panel presentation and discussion was reassuring to hear church staff share how they are able to work through stylistic and expectation differences in not only positive, but productive ways. Their ideas and answers to the chapter members’ questions were very helpful. Relationships need nurturing, and these colleagues showed us imaginative techniques to do so.
–Submitted by Royce Eckhardt