Creating Worship that Works: Clergy and Musicians as Partners in Mission

A few years before Music, Liturgy, and the Arts (then known as the Center for Liturgy and Music) was born, Dr. William Bradley Roberts and Ellen Johnston hosted a symposium at Virginia Theological Seminary.  Eight clergy/musician teams from around the country were invited to this gathering because they were known to have healthy working relationships as they led creative and interesting programs.  Given the fraught nature of some clergy/musician relationships, the purpose of this gathering was to discover what factors made them work.  War stories were forbidden!

The teams participating in that symposium were Jason Abel and the Rev. Ann Gillespie; Marilyn Keiser and the Rev. Charlie Dupree; Howard Helvey and the Rev. Jason Leo; Stuart Forster and the Rev. Joe Robinson; Ruben Valenzuela and the Rev. Paige Blair; Darryl Roland and the Rev. Peggy Patterson; John Vreeland and the Rev. Jim Dannals.  

Each team was charged with telling the story of their relationship, including how they had been able to settle a conflict, how they were able to motivate their congregations to be open to creative and imaginative liturgy, and what unique approach to ministry is working in their congregations.  

After two full days comprised of presentations, worship, and small group work, the symposium committee decided that a good first step would be to produce a teaching DVD to begin addressing the issue of clergy/musician relationships.  The DVD, with a script written by the Rev. Ann Gillespie, Dr. William Bradley Roberts, and Ellen Johnston, was produced by a Washington, DC, film company, The Pendragwn Company.  It was filmed at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, McLean, Virginia.  

The DVD is now available online here.  It is intended to be watched by clergy/musician teams, in workshop settings, and by music search committees.  There are three segments and at the end of each segment questions are provided for discussion.  

Let us know how you are using this resource. The work on this important topic continues!