Learning late in June that our director of music would be retiring at the end of the month, the personnel committee moved quickly to organize a search for new staff in our ministry of music and authorized me to secure guest musical leaders for the first months of the interim period.
Recent work of the staffing strategies task force was used to develop a job description that included three major roles: 1) A minister of music who works as creative partner and organizer with pastors, lay leaders, and other music makers; 2) A conductor who directs the church’s musical ensembles; and 3) An organist/pianist who leads hymns and other service music, accompanies ensembles and is available for weddings and funerals. These roles together make a half-time (20 hours per week) job with a fairly attractive salary. We would be happy to find someone who is excellent in all three areas, but we also made it clear in the announcement of our search that the roles could be separated into smaller jobs, that we were open to the possibility of a conductor who wasn’t an organist, or an organist/pianist who wasn’t necessarily strong as a conductor.
As it has for other part-time positions, the personnel committee took responsibility for the music search but also asked four members of the congregation to serve as consultants, joining the pastors in reviewing promising applicants. The consultants are Jim McCullough, Lori Tschetter, Laura Herra, and Tony Giamberdino. The opening has been posted on the CUCC website and with the employment listings of the United Church of Christ and the American Guild of Organists. Also, personal appeals for assistance with the search were sent to established church musicians in the area, a couple of whom have already been very helpful in our finding guest leaders for the interim.
With a new program year beginning in September, there is natural concern for what’s happening in the music search and whether it’s happening fast enough. Everyone is eager for more definition and clarity, but please keep in mind that these musical leadership roles are key positions in our ministry that we should be very deliberate and prayerful about filling. The departure of our previous director happened suddenly and just ten weeks ago, and the market for church musicians at the standard of excellence we seek is very competitive. It may take a while to make the right connection(s.)
In the meantime, the interim has been good for us. Guest musicians, Chris Siebold, Nancy Sen, Stephanie Spolum, Robert Vanderschaaf, Larry Dieffenbach and Mary Thomas have been excellent and very much appreciated. We’ve made new friends and experienced new energy in music making with them. Members of our congregation, Tony Giamberdino, Trish Thompson, Scott and Miki Powell and Jim McCullough have stepped up to make music and to offer other kinds of leadership that strengthen our ministry no matter how the staff roles are finally arranged.
Everyone is eager for more definition and clarity, and you can help! Very often, desirable prospects for positions like these are found through personal connection. (Somebody knows somebody who knows a great church musician who is thinking about moving.) Your network of personal acquaintance might help us to make that connection. Keep your ears open, and where you recognize any possibility at all, don’t hesitate to talk about the exciting things happening at your church and the openings in its music ministry, directing people to find more information at www.CUCCstc.org.
The Rev. David E. Pattee, Senior Pastor