I usually write every year around this time about my experiences at the annual conference of The Association of Anglican Musicians, and having spent the past two years on a committee that planned last week’s conference in Washington, D.C., I’m especially eager to share just a few things that had a big impact on those attending the conference. Lest you think that a gathering of 300 church musicians is a staid, uptight, quiet affair, let me quote a bartender at the National Press Club where we held our closing banquet…as I walked by I heard him say with some despair that “there is no more gin to be found anywhere in Washington D.C.” Let’s just say this is a group that knows how to party as well as it knows how to pray.
What makes this conference particularly valuable to me is that the liturgies – and we participated in ten services during the five days of the conference – are not only full of carefully chosen and prepared music, no surprise, but that the organizers also give considerable thought to conference speakers and preachers. It’s a crowd that listens to words as closely as it does to music.
If you’re reading this, it’s possible that you care about the Episcopal Church as deeply as I do and might be interested in reading two sets of remarks by people whose words were genuinely appreciated by those attending the conference. The sermon at the opening Eucharist at St. Paul’s, K Street was given by the Bishop of Maryland, Eugene Sutton, and it set the tone for the entire week: Bishop Sutton’s sermon for AAM
All clergy were invited to join the musicians for a day of conversation and worship at Virginia Theological Seminary midweek during the conference. The former Rector of St. Alban’s, Frank Wade, gave an opening address which got people talking in productive ways and set the stage for a panel of four bishops and four musicians in a discussion on music in the church, moderated by the Seminary’s Dean Ian Markham. Frank Wade, AAM Clergy Day, June 18, 2014
What was clear to me throughout the week is that we have a common cause, clergy and musicians in the Episcopal Church. We all want thriving parishes where people encounter God and then take the joy of that encounter out into the world. It was a joy to be with my colleagues from around the country and share with them in an abundance of experiences – concerts, worship, conversations, and yes, a few too many glasses of wine. And I am equally joyful about bringing the fruits of that time back to my work here at St. Alban’s.