In This Issue
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Letter from the Board President
You may have read a recent article in the New York Times (February 8) about film composer John Williams, who is ninety years old. In the article, he talks about what he has done for much of those ninety years—and how he anticipates shifting away from some of that work to new things. What a musician: entering his tenth decade with new energies and projects. I have long been grateful for what this composer shows us about music: the ways it accompanies, partners, illumines, and shares.
One of my earliest experiences of captivated orchestra-listening was the 1980 double-LP soundtrack to The Empire Strikes Back. (I still have it.) Somehow it was pivotal: it revealed something about the ways music can travel with and take part in a story. This composer has shown this as musician and person: in any interview or performance, he reveals kindness, grace, humanity, intellect; his arms, ears, and spirit are open wide; during curtain calls, he mostly gestures praise to the orchestra.
There are a whole lot of Williams recordings in my CD rack. They’re on the bottom shelf, alphabetically and maybe also metaphorically: they seem to signify near-the-floor values like collaboration, sharing, songfulness, curiosity, generosity, wonder, attending to stories, noticing other people. Film composer he may be—I think he’s secretly a church musician.
Thinking about these things, I suppose what inspires me comes down to a single word: accompanying. The term “accompanist” has sometimes given way to other words. Concert programs and music degrees sometimes favor terms like “collaborative pianist” or “chamber musician”—but I remain in the “accompanist” camp. Perhaps there is a worry that “accompanist” diminishes the musician, but the worry actually diminishes accompanying itself. After all, what is accompanying?
John Williams is an accompanist. So are all of us in PAM—Accompanists Writ Large. There are many titles for our work: Director of Music, Minister of Music, Bandleader, Organist, Cantor, Choir Director, Pianist, Section Leader, Administrative Assistant, Teacher. I think we’re all mainly Accompanists, and I know I don’t want to be anything else. It’s what musicians and pastors have in common. There is no better calling for our crafts and gifts, no better calling for our humanity. The world needs Accompanists.
It's the work PAM is called to do: as our mission statement says, we are committed to the ways that this work of the people—this liturgical life—is formative and collaborative. We can’t do it alone. Thank you all for all the ways you take part in PAM, the various ways you do indeed help it to be the work of the people. Your support, presence, prayers, ideas, are all needed for such a time as this.
And such a time as 2022 is bursting at the seams with PAM-ness. The 2022 Worship and Music Conference, “In the Stranger’s Guise”, is drawing near—so run, don’t walk, to register! Co-directors Krista Wright and Marlon Hurst and their Planning Team have imagined a wondrous conference and pulled together amazing people and ideas. Registrations are already climbing, and it’s only February! It’s Year 52 for PAM this conference—please don’t miss it!
As you’ll read in this newsletter, PAM is in high gear. Our committees are flourishing; our visioning is deepening; our Board is a fantastic, committed group; our Executive Director, Kelly Abraham, seems to have a life-time contract with Energizer and is unflagging in her creative work for this organization. In addition, we are grateful for the work of Katherine Kupar, Lisa Myers, Elizabeth Myers, and Sandra McDonald in the PAM Office.
Don’t forget one of our new initiatives: the Submission Based workshops that will debut at the 2023 Conference. Applications for these are due by March 1, so there’s still time. You’ll find all the information in this newsletter and on the PAM website. It’ll be a great way for us to learn from one another. Again: thank you for your love and support of PAM. As we head into this fifty-second year, we may not know what the stranger’s guise will bring, but we trust that God is in it.
Coincidentally, the article on John Williams appeared as I’d been listening for a week or so to his Bassoon Concerto, subtitled The Five Sacred Trees. Based on writings by poet Robert Graves, the subtitle evokes trees in Celtic mythology. As is usually the case, Williams writes a piece that, however virtuosic for the player, seems to allow the instrument to be its full, natural self. In this concerto, the bassoon does what it does so well: it muses and wonders; it scurries and bounces; it winks and jokes; the low register seems to be under the earth; the high register has ache and tenderness; and above all, it sings.
I think our work in the church in these two years has been bassoon-like. We have scurried frantically and bounced from change to change. We’ve been living and working in an aching, tender high register. And as probably any double-reed player can testify, just getting the breath into the instrument—into our work—has been hard enough. But, thanks be to God, we can also testify that we’ve seen, in new ways, how liturgy and song are—past, present, future—a low register, under-the-earth, bottom-shelf God-place.
So a bit of recommended listening: if you want to hear what, to me, is right music for this moment, listen to the final movement of this work. It sings sorrow and beauty, disquiet and transcendence. In a way, it doesn’t seem to end—just to pause, knowing that more is to come. Somehow it catches a tone for the time; it does good accompanying.
As we approach Lent, let us keep each other in prayer for the roads ahead. A pandemic keeps striking back; systemic, societal injustice keeps striking back; life-fatigue keeps striking back. Like John Williams at ninety, we can look back—but we can’t go back. What is before us, as church musicians and pastors and lovers of worship and lovers of God, will call on who we’ve already been as well as who we are becoming: beloved creatures; servants and siblings; ones called to the holy work of journeying alongside.
I think we’re all mainly Accompanists, and
I know I don’t want to be anything else. . .
There is no better calling for our crafts and gifts, no better calling for our humanity.
The world needs Accompanists.
Report from the Executive Director
We know the efforts you have taken to continually support your choirs, your congregations, your worship teams over the last 2+ years has been immense. So PAM has hit the ground running to support you in 2022!
Our 2022 Town Hall Forum Series, featuring Call to Worship authors, has launched. The entire schedule can be found at https://www.presbymusic.org/town-hall. All are recorded and available to watch at the same link. We continue to be grateful for this partnership with PC(USA)’s Office of Theology & Worship!
The East Region and South Atlantic & Puerto Rico Region are meeting later this month to take the next steps in forming their regions. If you live in either of these regions and are interested in participating in this important step, please email me to let me know.
Rocky Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming) and North Central (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota), you’re up next! Stay tuned for an email invitation in early March.
Calling all first call pastors! In an ongoing effort to listen and learn to best provide resources and support needed to creatively lead worship, we have, once again, partnered with PC(USA)’s Financial Aid for Service to provide 2022 PAM memberships and 2022 online Worship & Music Conference registrations for all pastors in their first call.
Therefore, if someone you know, has been ordained in 2021 or 2022 and is serving in their first call, please email their information to Mark, chair of the First Call Pastor Team at Mkempwpc@gmail.com. One caveat, because this gift is from PC(USA)’s Financial Aid for Service, this gift is only eligible to PC(USA) pastors.
First, great news! For the third year in a row, PAM has ended the year with a positive operating balance – $23,247 to be exact. This is much better than we expected, and is a direct result of several actions:
the 1,224 members who supported PAM through your memberships,
the 1,212 individuals who participated in PAM’s Worship & Music Conferences in-person or online,
the generosity of the 549 individuals and churches who donated to PAM’s Annual Fund, including 30 sustaining donors who donate regularly throughout the year, and
several generous grants from churches and PC(USA).
Thank you so very much for heading the call to lean in to support this organization! We simply could not have done it without your support.
Save The Dates
June 21 and 28 (Tuesdays): PAM Member and Donor Receptions at the Worship & Music Conferences. Details coming in April.
April 28, 1:30 ET: We’re moving PAM’s Annual Meeting from June (at the Worship & Music Conferences) to April via Zoom. We look forward to gathering with all of you, wherever you are, to share with you the 2021 Annual Report, the state of PAM, and the goals set by the Board to best support you in 2022 and beyond.
Thank you, again and again, for the privilege to serve you.
Certified Church Musician
Michael P. Snoddy
Michael P. Snoddy recently completed the requirements to be certified as a Certified Church Musician. Congratulations Michael!
Michael P. Snoddy currently serves as the Director of Music and Organist for First Presbyterian Church of Franklin, Tennessee and is a recipient of the Master of Music Degree in organ performance from the University of North Texas. Mr. Snoddy is also an undergraduate winner in the twenty-sixth annual William C. (Bill) Hall pipe organ competition, a state-wide event sponsored by First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio, Texas.
A performer of numerous recitals, he has appeared at both Hull City Hall, Hull, England, and First Congregational Church in the city of Los Angeles. His CD entitled Immortal, Invisible, recorded at Bentwood Trail Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, was featured on a nation-wide broadcast of American Public Media’s Pipedreams, a program dedicated to the music of the King of Instruments.
Most recently he earned the Presbyterian Association of Musicians professional certification as a Certified Church Musician (CCM). In addition to a career as a church musician and organist Mr. Snoddy has worked as a professional pipe organ builder and continues to assist the historic Canadian firm of Casavant Frères Limitée in project development.
2022 Conference Invitation
Krista Wright & Marlon Hurst
Invite Your Pastor to the Worship and Music Conference!
Worship planning and leadership are central to the work of both pastors and church musicians - and are the arenas in which our work together have the most overlap. The Worship and Music conference at Montreat is primarily a worship conference (that just happens to also have significant musical components). The 2022 conference has a particularly robust track for pastors (making it a potentially attractive and enriching way to put those continuing education funds to use!).
Three worship services daily (Morning Prayer, Daily Worship, Evening Prayer) interpreting the PC(USA) Matthew 25 initiative
Inspiring preaching with Rev. Aisha Brooks-Johnson, along with a preaching seminar
Creative liturgy within a Reformed framework, written by Rev. Sudie Niesen Thompson, along with a liturgy writing workshop
Challenging Bible Study with Dr. Justin Reed, Assistant Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Worship Reflections class featuring members of the conference worship planning team
An art class with Ellen Phillips and David VanderMeer designed to help participants take home practical and meaningful ways to engage art in worship
Myriad opportunities to get out from behind the pulpit and make music with world class conductors leading the way!
While there may be a perception among those who haven't attended this conference that it is "only for musicians," as you can see from the above highlights, this conference is for everyone who cares about the worship life and practice of the church.
So... what are you waiting for? Sign up for the conference today, and invite your pastor to join you!
Call to Worship
Kimberly Bracken Long
The next issue of Call to Worship, titled “Reconciliation,” looks at the topic from a number of different perspectives. You’ll find articles on racial reconciliation, working to heal wounds inflicted upon LGBTQIA+ Christians by the church, why we need those prayers of confession, the deeper meaning of passing the peace, and preaching across political divides.
You’ll hear about songs that can foster reconciliation and learn the surprising, painful history of how communion has been used to oppress. You will be challenged and inspired. I pray that your hope will be renewed.
Kimberly Bracken Long
As a member of PAM and a member of the Mid-South Region, we would like to hear from you!
The steering team for the Mid-South Region is working to organize and plan events for members. Please take a moment to fill out the survey. The responses will guide the steering team in planning future events, as well as the vision of the Region as a whole.
The survey will be live until Friday, February 18th. It is short and only takes a few moments to complete.
Thank you, and we're looking forward to connecting soon at an exciting first Mid-South Region event!
- The Mid-South Steering Team
John Allen Bankson
Greetings from the recently formed Great Lakes Region of PAM! My name is Ann Wood. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I’m the president of the Region. Joining me on the board are Past PAM President David VanderMeer of Ann Arbor, MI, as vice president; Chris Dent of Columbus, OH, as secretary; Sandra McDonald of Ann Arbor as treasurer; and Janet Langhorst of Cincinnati, OH, as Connecting Committee member.
We have already produced two well-received webinars: one on copyright with Chris Dent and one on liturgical visual arts with Dave VanderMeer, Sandra McDonald, Lisa Longo, and Ellen Phillips. You may know that Dave and Ellen are the artists-in-residence for this summer’s Worship & Music Conference at Montreat. And speaking of Montreat, there are plans to hold a Great Lakes Region gathering at each of the two weeks of the Worship & Music Conference. If you live and/or work in our Region—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin—please come and join us; we would love to connect face to face!
Our future plans include a webinar in March on spiritual guidance for church musicians, particularly in this season of Covid, and another, tentatively scheduled for August, on collaborative worship planning. We’re also looking forward to producing some in-person events; we hope to start with a hymn festival that we intend to present in several different central locations within our Region. We’re very excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead!
Call for 2023 Worship & Music Workshop Proposals
Proposals are due March 1, 2022
PAM members and non-members are invited to submit proposals to present at the 2023 Worship and Music Conference in Montreat, North Carolina.
Proposals are for single-session workshops of 50 minutes.
The workshop topic is your choice. Broad areas of possibility might include worship planning, hymnody, justice, liturgical year, instrumental or choral topics, and many more.
Submissions for remote workshops (recorded or Zoom) are accepted.
Submissions may be made for Week 1, Week 2, or for both.
Submissions are open both to PAM members and to non-members.
If chosen, presenters are responsible for their own travel, room, and board. A $175 discounted conference registration is offered for accepted submissions (one discounted rate per workshop). Submissions are reviewed and selections made by a team appointed by the PAM President.
Click here for more information and to submit a proposal. The deadline for submission is
March 1, 2022.
Town Hall Forum Series
Call for Nominations
Now is the time to submit names for PAM's 2022-23 Nominating Committee.
PAM members in good standing are invited to submit up to three names for consideration. The Nominating Committee is responsible for curating nominations for openings on the Executive Board and Advisory Council.
At this time, we are also accepting nominations for the following Executive Board positions:
At-Large Representative (Southeast)
At-Large Representative (West)
Submissions should be sent to Karrie Rushing, chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 15.
First Call Pastors
Has your community ordained a new pastor in 2021?
PAM's First Call Pastor Community, with help from the office of Financial Aid for Service, is eager to welcome them to the work of PAM with resources, conversation, and support.
Help us connect with your new pastor by emailing Mark Kemp (Mkempwpc@gmail.com) with their contact information. We'll do the rest!
Scholarships for the 2022 Worship and Music Conference are still available.
If you are a leader in a small congregation, a college student, a seminary student, or a person in a minority population and need financial assistance in order to attend the Worship and Music Conference, apply for a conference scholarship.
The application can be found here.