The church where I worship houses a vibrant community in a building that was originally meant to be a gymnasium. For the last 18 years, I have been involved in the Contemporary Ensemble which is part of the music ministry at our church. We’re not an “adult choir” although some of our members are supposed to be adults. We’re not a “children’s choir” although we have students that are in 7th grade and high school and college. We’re a mix of age and talent, voices and instrumentation. For the most part, we are involved because we have a gift that we share and we are grateful to our Creator for giving us this gift – so we give back.
I have to admit that sometimes it’s a struggle to be involved here. The acoustics are terrible due to soundproofing materials that were used because the facility was going to be a gym. There is also carpeting which deadens any sound. We have a wonderful Steinway grand piano that was donated by a parishioner and when you sit in front of church and the lid is fully open, it will knock your socks off. The sound system is ancient and in need of updating/replacement. Our 8-port mixer developed a hum a while back, I think because it may have been moved by someone who did not handle it lovingly. It is annoying to our assembly so I try not to use it. And of course because we are neither the Adult choir or the Children’s Choir we are often overlooked or excluded. *sigh* Another rant is in store!
About 5 years ago, our pastor and some parishioners began to look into renovating vs. building a new church. Things got ugly in the parish. Some people didn’t think change was needed. Some people thought renovation would be fine. Others, myself included, were heaven-bent on a new church. There was a point where approvals were in place for a new church and a ground-breaking ceremony was held but the economy took a turn for the worse and now we’re talking renovation.
Last night, our new pastor asked about some old equipment I was wrestling with. I explained about our busted mixer and I said, I need to call (the business manager) and let her know it needs repair. “Or we can buy a new one,” he said. I thought that was generous but I’d rather wait until the plans for the renovation are finalized. I can be patient.
In the last two weeks, I’ve had discussions with a few former parishioners who said they loved our community but they just couldn’t get behind the building of a new church and left for another parish. I nodded like I understood but it really angered me. They left our parish with it’s ugly gymnasium church and went to a parishwhere there was a wonderful building with good acoustics and a fine sound system and marble and wood.
So yeah – Leave our parish because you didn’t want a new church – but don’t go to another gymnasium- Nope, go to a church where it’s easy to worship and you don’t have to struggle with lugging out a heavy mixer so your cellist and singers and guitar players can actually be heard! I know that a church is “Built of Living Stones” but I’d really like a break someday soon. I’d love to actually have a balanced music ministry where everyone can be heard and where we all fit without bunching up on each other and where I dont have to worry about lugging out equipment and climbing under the piano and hauling the podium out of the way. I’d love if I didn’t have to start each celebration so pissed off that I could walk out before it even begins. And then have to suffer extreme guilt for being ungrateful because we could be one of those parishes that had to merge and things would be in complete disarray.
I just had to rant though. I believe that of you’re going to make the effort to do liturgy , it should be done right. Having the worship space really helps – at least I wouldn’t be pissed off before it even starts!