The Good Newsletter

July 2016 (A)          Volume 126, Issue 9

In This Issue:


• Summer Vacation!
   by The Rev. Joyce Parry-Moore


• Music Ministry Minute: Choir
   by Tisha Strill


• Music Ministry Minute: Evening Service
  by Chuck Hamilton


• Music Ministry Minute: Prelude & Postlude
  by Leslie Malek

A printable version of the newsletter is available here, along with the July and August calendars.

Summer Vacation!

Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 

Luke 21:30

So much is beginning to “sprout” around St. James Parish lately—our garden (now supported by a new grant from the national Church’s United Thank Offering!), our New Wineskins Sunday evening worship experience, and an upcoming Sacred Arts Camp and theater production! Signs of Summer are all around us.

Many families—including my own—commonly take a summer vacation while school is out and the climate is warm. This tradition actually began in Europe, when the courts and universities took a long summer break, during which the wine harvests took place. Our own country, also begun with agrarian “roots,” still honors this idea of a long summer “vacation,” even though fewer families rely upon that time for harvesting any longer.

During my own vacation, I wondered: what do we harvest now during the summer? For me, relaxing along the Oregon coast, I found myself cultivating new energies, new ideas, and a renewed spirit with which I could begin the fall and winter seasons. Two of our young people left today for southern climes, to gain a renewed vision of what racial justice might look like.

What about “Vacation Bible School” or VBS? How do the words “vacation” and “school” fit together in that formula? The terms began in New York City in the late 1890’s, when Bible school teacher Eliza Hawes started an “Every Day” summer school especially to serve children in need. By the 1920’s, the Baptist Mission Society in New York, and Union Theological Seminary, began formalizing and reproducing these schools, founding the “World Association of Daily Bible Schools” in 1922.

Here at St. James, we are combining our love for the arts with our love for children, education, and outreach by offering a Sacred Arts Camp. For five days—August 15 to 19, from 9 a.m. to noon—children ages 4 to 12 will gather to learn Biblical concepts alongside children’s literature. This summer we will explore The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the well-known children’s adventure by Anglican theologian C.S. Lewis. Children and teachers together will harvest stories, songs, visual art creations, and produce from our garden in this ripe summer activity. Look for our “Justice Faire” when you come to performances of the play on August 20 and 21st, featuring our Thrift Store and its partner agencies!

Whatever and wherever your vacation plans take you, we pray that you will support some of the projects growing here at St. James, with your time, your talents and your treasure. Together may we enjoy the abundance of God’s harvest!

Yours in the Vineyard,

Mother Joyce

Music Ministry Minute: Choir

When I was praying about this Ministry Minute, I decided to do a little research about the origin of church choirs. And I was a little surprised to find out that the choirs didn’t evolve from the first church or Christianity. We find in First Chronicles that the first “church choir” was appointed by King David some 3,000 years ago

Now these are the singers, heads of fathers' households of the Levites, who lived in the chambers of the temple free from other service; for they were engaged in their work day and night. (1 Chron. 9:33)

And then I found further in 1st Chronicles,

Now when David reached old age, he made his son Solomon king over Israel. And he gathered together all the leaders of Israel with the priests and the Levites. And the Levites were numbered from thirty years old and upward, and their number by census of men was 38,000. Of these, 24,000 were to oversee the work of the house of the LORD; and 6,000 were officers and judges, and 4,000 were gatekeepers, and 4,000 were praising the LORD with the instruments which David made for giving praise. (1 Chron 23:1-5)

Can you imagine 4,000 praising the Lord with music? You may have noticed that the St. James Choir is a little less than 4,000 these days. I’ve been in the choir since 1991 and I can remember a time when we had close to 30 members. It was so big that the choir room was almost too small to hold us and we completely filled the choir loft. Currently, we have 8 members—small but mighty!

We’re hoping to achieve those kinds of numbers again. Thirty, not four thousand! To be sure, being part of the choir is a ministry that serves God and the people of this church. We help lead worship by knowing the hymns that we all sing, we celebrate the everyday and the big holidays by the anthems that we prepare, and we honor members of our congregation at memorials, weddings and baptisms.

We are very blessed in the talent of our Director, Dr. Ray Bannon—and are you aware that he plays while he conducts the choir? That’s very unusual. Someday, we’d like to have an accompanist (do we have a secret pianist out there?). And you may have noticed that Mother Joyce is a little interested in music, as well.

Unlike King David’s time, it isn’t necessary for you to sing day and night. To be a member of the choir, it requires you to attend practice every Thursday at 7 p.m. and to be faithful in your attendance on Sundays. There will be a few other required dates as well.

Look at the benefits: you always have a seat at Christmas and Easter, and you always know what you’re wearing on Sundays. And it’s lots of fun—every Thursday is filled with laughter and singing. We pray and support each other.

If you like to sing, but are insecure about your abilities to read music, come talk to one of us. Reading music is a benefit, but not absolutely necessary. We can teach you what you need to know. And remember, Mother Joyce has offered a voice lesson for the first person who joins the choir.

So pray about it and consider celebrating the Lord in this very special way!

Tisha Strill

Music Ministry Minute: Evening Service

I’ve been playing drums since the age of 12 and consider music and drumming to be more a part of who I am than any other single activity in my life. One of the main reasons I started attending St. James regularly was because of the opportunity to play music at the 5:00 p.m. service. Not only does playing at church services keep me from getting too rusty between professional gigs, it's part of my stewardship. It is one way I give of my time and talent.

Playing music allows me to:

  • worship God in a meaningful way
  • support the church and its members

  • connect to a more universal energy

  • communicate with others in a language that is very effective at expressing the seemingly inexpressible.

The 5:00 p.m. service provides not only a contemporary alternative to more traditional music, it provides alternatives to the worship experience itself. Though our intent is certainly not to poach members who are already happy at morning services, I would urge you to at least attend a 5:00 p.m. service sometime and be open to suggesting this musical and liturgical experience to others you may know outside of St. James.

Not everyone can play drums or make musical sounds on an instrument, but everyone has a talent of some sort. You may or may not know what yours is right now, but I believe there’s a talent in everyone that can be shared and used for the glory of God. I urge you to prayerfully consider what talents you have within you and be a good steward of those talents by sharing with all of us.

Thank you.

Chuck Hamilton
Vestry, Social Justice and
Stewardship Commissions,
and musician at the 5:00 service

Music Ministry Minute: Prelude and Postlude

Peter Hallock was one of the finest musicians this Diocese has ever known. He’s probably most famous for starting the Compline Choir which still sings every Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s. He was the Cathedral Organist for decades and, when you’re in St. Mark’s turn around and face the beautiful, awesome Flentrop organ, which he was also responsible for bringing to St. Mark’s. His musical compositions are used in the wider church throughout the world. He was such an influence in our Diocese and such a musical and liturgical presence that he was named Canon Precentor.

Some of you already know this, but many may not. Peter was raised right here at St. James. We nurtured his talents and his heart and everything he did in life was formed here. Peter used his music to give back—to this community, to the Diocese, and far beyond.

That is our ancestral heritage here at St. James. That is what this ministry means to me. To give back. To this congregation and our Lord.

Well, of course, you say, I'm a musician—what else would I do? But music is much more than my meager contributions. Music in the church supports everything we do: without music, the liturgy—the work of the people—is not as strong. Liturgy is inspired by the Holy Spirit when the Spirit sings through us. When Jesus becomes alive in our singing or our playing. It is how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through our very breath.

Think about the music in our worship. Have you ever wondered why we have a Prelude and Postlude? Well, naturally: it’s Talking and Walking music. No, really: it has a purpose. The Prelude is to lead us into the space of prayer and meditation and prepare ourselves to worship. It’s for those few brief moments before the service starts for us to have that personal, precious space to commune with our God. And the Postlude, conversely, prepares us to “Go out to love and serve the Lord.” After we are dismissed, the Postlude gives us another few precious moments to move from the space of God and of worship into the ordinary world of our daily lives.

Music is the underpinning of our worship and the song of our liturgy—the work of the people.

Leslie Malek

The newsletter is sent on Thursday of the first and third full weeks of the month. Submissions must be sent to by noon of the Tuesday before.
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