In the last Rumination about the CAT I left you hanging with the music question. In the CAT, we were presented with seventeen options about where to place our energy. One of those options was to “Change or improve the music of the church to deepen our worship experience.” The typical mainline churches in the United States who have taken the CAT ranked this option number fifteen. Those in our parish who responded to the CAT ranked this option number thirteen, only two places higher. In the report that we received this was ranked as “high" compared to other churches. This made no sense to me. All other options that were within two places of the mainline church ratings, were ranked as “average." Why would this particular option be ranked “high” for us? I researched this question using the book provided to us (Owl Sight, Evidence-Based Discernment and the Promise of Organizational Intelligence for Ministry by J. Russel Crabtree) and was not satisfied with the lack of explanation. I then contacted Fr. Frank Baltz, who I was told is the expert in the Diocese when it comes to things related to the CAT. I asked why the music question was rated “high" for us when it was only two places off of the ratings of typical mainline churches. After a bit of discussion, he asked where it was rated in our CAT survey and I said it was rated thirteen. After a short silence he said, "I really wouldn’t worry about anything that far down on the list. Work on the first three to five options as that is all that you can hope to accomplish during the life cycle of this CAT.” (3-5 years).
Why is music so important to our worship? Claude Debussy is credited with saying the music is the space between the notes. My good friend Fr. Tom Wilson use to say that Christ was found in the space between us. Space, the final frontier. No, wait that was Star Trek, not the Jesus movement. So again, why is music so important to our worship? Psalm 109 says:
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make melody.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples,
and I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
and Psalm 92 also talks of music:
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Music is an integral part of our worship. It has been used for centuries to teach the lessons of the Gospel and to open our hearts to praise God. In the near term, I will not recommend to the vestry nor the Strategic Planning Committee any changes in our music ministry, other than those already proposed by the change in service times. I truly believe that we have much more pressing issues to pursue than the thirteenth option on our CAT. One of the things that drew me to St. Francis was the congregational singing. We worship in song as a parish better than any parish I have ever attended. Let us move forward with attracting young families, embracing new people into our community and building a new worship space so we may raise our voices in praise to the Triune God.
Your brother in Christ,