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The Texas Episcopalian




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Diolog: The Texas Episcopalian (since 1874) is an official publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Our mission is to bring you the wealth of stories from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, to inform and inspire you and to deepen your spiritual life. PUBLISHER:

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle

EDITOR: Carol E. Barnwell, DESIGNER:

LaShane K. Eaglin,


Luke Blount,

Diolog: The Texas Episcopalian (PE# USPS 10965, ISSN# 1074-441X) is published quarterly (March, June, September and December) for $25 a year by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, 1225 Texas St., Houston, TX 77002-3504. Periodical postage paid at Houston, TX. Address changes may be emailed to: POSTMASTER: Address changes: Diolog: The Texas

Episcopalian, 1225 Texas St., Houston, TX 77002-3504 © 2013 The Episcopal Diocese of Texas

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas



In This Issue: 04 EDITOR’S LETTER Carol E. Barnwell MUSIC


06 Bishop’s Column 08 Rocky Path Yields Broad Avenue

of Musical Choice 10 Sung Compline Strikes Divine Chord 11

Every musical expression in worship deserves our best effort and opens us to experience the Holy Spirit.

Latino Congregations Have Diverse Musical Tastes

12 Brothers Bring Taizé to Lakota 14 Choir School Opens Wider World for Choristers 16 Small Voices of Children’s Choirs

Are Notes of Formation 17 Kansas Cathedral Focuses on Liturgical Roots 18 Music Takes Me There 20 Music Must Be the Work of the People 22 Local Musicians Bring New

Facet to Conversations, Worship

34 RADIO STATION Palmer Memorial, Houston is on the air.

24 Ancient Chants Carry Power PROFILES Luminary, Robert Simpson page 26 The Arts, The Rev. Bertie Pearson page 30 Advocate, Palmer Memorial, Houston page 34 Congregation, St. James’, Austin & Houston page 36 38 CALENDAR & PEOPLE

Cover and Inside Cover Photo: Creative Commoms

39 St. Cyprian’s Turns to Online App for Church Directory Diolog

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Come before His presence with a song Our last issue on restorative justice was a bear to produce. The subject was challenging and the concept difficult to cover in its many facets. Stories that I had originally planned evaporated, so other stories I planned no longer fit. I think that’s the nature of justice—it is illusive sometimes. We’ve had plenty of news coverage recently on George Zimmerman’s acquittal for Trayvon Martin’s death. This tragic incident has illuminated the need for more discussion on race relations in our country. We are not there yet. While the jury reportedly did not discuss race as a part of their deliberations, it is time we all had the conversation. It is time to look critically at the diversity within our own congregations, to question “Stand Your Ground” type laws and to work harder to live Jesus’ teachings about peacemaking and reconciliation, wherever we find the opportunity. New Op/Ed Page We have recently added a “Perspectives” page to the diocesan news feed. There have been several opinion pieces published already, and we will be adding more as more people submit their perspective on current events, culture and community. You can find these at: epicenter.

org/perspectives. To submit an essay, please send to me at The page will be curated, so not every submission will be posted. Perspectives is not intended to be a response to the Lectionary readings. One other note (pun intended), this quarter’s magazine on music was a pleasure to gather and publish. In contrast to the restorative justice issue, this one just flowed. What I recognized in each piece is that we are blessed with many, many fine musicians and singers who enhance our worship in its many rich and varied expressions. In each article, it is the heart of a music leader that helps to set the stage for our experience of the Holy in worship, whether that’s traditional hymnody, Taizé chants, jazz, gospel or Gregorian chants. Our musicians and choristers practice week in, week out, and show up on Sundays to offer their gifts. Our part is to bring a joyful spirit to worship, to say “Thanks” to our choir members and musicians, and to sing loud. When you are finished reading this issue, you might give it to a neighbor and invite them to church. It’s been said that Episcopalians invite someone to church once every 37 years. There is certainly room for improvement here! Blessings,

Carol E. Barnwell


Purchase the Trinity Jazz Ensemble CD from the Diocese of Texas, featuring One Bread, One Body (the title track); Psalm 19 (May the Words of My Mouth); and Lord, Send Out Your Spirit, along with the Sanctus and other pieces from the Eucharist set in a jazz/gospel style and sung by Trinity regulars.

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If You Invite Them, They Will Come September 15, 2013 Welcome your neighbors, friends and loved ones to church.

EDOT Gallery Call for Art

Visit to learn more and get resources to help you get ready.

EDOT Gallery, the art exhibit at the Diocesan Center in Houston, is seeking new Episcopal artists to feature. Please send 10–12 images to Carol E. Barnwell at Include a biography, artist’s statement and brief description of the work to be considered with title, media and dimensions. EDOT Gallery requests 10% of any sales. The next series of shows will be chosen Fall 2013. EDOT Gallery is a venue


designed to showcase Episcopal

St. Francis Day (October 4) is a time to celebrate

artists, sponsored by the Diocese

the unconditional love our pets give to us. Every

of Texas. Find out more at

year, churches around the Diocese of Texas offer pet

blessings to include the broader community. Check out our Pet Blessings Blog to get ideas and find a pet blessing near you.


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BRIDGING THE DIVINE by the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle

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Not long ago a priest brought to my attention the work of the code switchers. In its popular context, code switching is the art of bridging across differences. Code switchers are those people who relate well to people from other groups, with different backgrounds, and even languages. In the business world, the art of code switching has become valuable as it enables an organization to benefit from collaborative efforts and teamwork and even to bridge the gap between the organizations, followers or clients. Musicians are a kind of code switcher. On the one hand, the musician switches between the divine and humanity—bridges the gap between heaven and earth. They help provide an aesthetic that engages the whole spirit as well as the body. The musician is involved in the sacred work of interpreting the divine, or reflecting the divine through their playing, writing and scoring. The poet, author, and Dean of York (appointed in 1941), Eric MilnerWhite, wrote a poem called “Thy God, Thy Glory.” Here is the last stanza: O God, most glorious, Make our life the vision of thee

To the praise of thy glory;

that we all as a mirror may reflect it, and be transformed into the same image

from glory to glory,

world without end.i

Music, composition and performance are gifts from God. No matter how brilliant or talented a person is, we as Christians believe their gifts flow from the Holy Spirit. The Christian aesthete understands that because of the incarnation of God in Christ Jesus and His dwelling among us that we cannot penetrate to the “heart of beauty without the aid of the Holy Spirit.”ii Hans Urs von Balthasar believed “it is always the function of a given epoch to make itself receptive to the art of the Holy Spirit…”iii As Anglicans we understand precisely this as we use symbols, language and music to inform and participate in the Divine Liturgy. While holding fast to ancient liturgical traditions, we have always created beautiful conversations

between the local cultural context and the divine—most often in music but more recently in all forms of the liturgical arts. The vocation of the musician is a particular vocation which is itself empowered to manipulate creation that it more easily reflects God and God’s beauty. The musician Carlos Santana used to listen to a John Coltrane album as his day ended or began as a kind of contemplative act. In Santana’s words: “I could hear God’s mind in that music ... I heard the Supreme One playing music through John Coltrane’s mind.” Another reviewer said, “I’m agnostic—and yet, John Coltrane’s masterpiece, A Love Supreme, has almost made me see God.”iv Paul Tillich believed that humanity’s longing is always offered through symbols like Coltrane’s or the musicians featured in this issue.v This means that our praise, our work, our own singing and listening participates in a symbolic language and it is where the Holy is manifest. Music and its host of symbols open up a reality that is otherwise closed to us. It unlocks dimensions of our soul that correspond to the dimensions of reality. Any musician will tell you their work grows out of the unconscious or the spirit life and that it is alive. The music grows, dies and can be To paraphrase John Milbank’s view on language that can be applied to the note and the lyric: words are more than tools, they have being, they are of substance, they make real that which is unseen and unexpressed.vii Music is a revelatory sacrament of God’s beauty. By code switching between the divine and creation, the musician also negotiates the journey from humanity back to God. In this way the musician is not only concerned with the work of offering beauty to the world, the musician is also invested in the work of drawing the participant into the beauty, of music and thus into the divine. The artist is reflecting God and at the same time enables humanity to reflect back to God’s glory—God’s divine beauty. In this issue you will read the masterful work of evangelists, code switchers, artists who are musicians. These are people who are invested in the work of revealing beauty, and through ancient and post-modern means, they help us to experience the divine.

Excerpt from: Thy God, Thy Glory, Eric Milner-White, 1884-1963. Hans Urs von Balthasar was a Swiss theologian and priest who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church but died before the ceremony. He is considered one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. Explorations in Theology, I. The Word Made Flesh, p. 126. iii Explorations in Theology, I. The Word Made Flesh, p. 126. iv Season 18: Episode 34 of Tapestry on CBC Radio. v Paul Johannes Tillich was a German-American Christian existentialist philosopher and theologian. Tillich is widely regarded as one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. Dynamics of Faith, p. 41. vi Ibid., pp. 41-43. vii Alasdair John Milbank is a Christian theologian and the Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham, where he also directs the Centre of Theology and Philosophy. The Word Made Strange. i



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Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. James 5:13 Throughout Judeo-Christian history, joyful and lamentable events have been marked by singing: Moses and Miriam lifted their voices in thanksgiving upon crossing the Red Sea; brass, strings and cymbals accompanied joyful shouts upon the Ark of the Covenant’s return to Jerusalem; Mary sang when the baby leaped in her womb; and the disciples joined our Lord in a hymn on the night before he was betrayed. The Church’s song has been one unending strain—with a few bumps along the road. Already in the second century, Clement of Alexandria warned against music of the pipe (flute) and anything that titillates the ear (The Instructor). Augustine of Hippo expressed a similar concern about the seductive charm of music, even the sweet singing of the church (De Musica). It is often claimed that the organ was not used until 660 AD, at the behest of Pope Vitalian, thus opening the door to other instruments in Western worship. The Orthodox Church does not permit instruments to be played to this day. On the Episcopal side of the ecclesiastical equation, the first uniquely Anglican music was that of John Merbecke in his Booke of Common Praier Noted (1550), whose mass setting lives on in The Hymnal 1982. The English Reformation was as troubled a time for music as it was for priests, bishops and the laity. Parties vying for control also promoted musical agendas, though no one viewpoint ultimately triumphed. Cromwell had organs destroyed and choral heads rolled. For a time the English Church

insisted upon exclusively singing hymns in the words of scripture (i.e., metrical psalms), which in rural areas was occasionally accompanied by amateur instrumentalists. By the nineteenth century, hymnody led by choir and organ was too powerful and persuasive a force to ignore. Two influences conspired to raise the status of congregational song: Evangelicals and Lutherans found hymns to be useful tools for instructing and inspiring the faithful, while Anglo-Catholics were eager to recover Greek and Latin texts for liturgical use. Anglican Church music is richer for the rocky path it took, embracing all of the musical influences along the way. It will come as no surprise to readers that tensions regarding church music have never been fully resolved. Some question along with Clement whether certain instruments are perhaps too “titillating.” Others, in unison with Augustine, wonder if particular types of music eclipse the intended message. Even parishes with well-regarded musical resources can fall prey to boasting in themselves rather than the Lord. How then should we approach sacred music within our own age for the good of the church and to prevent bloodshed? I propose dispensing with tired and polarizing labels often applied to church music instead, and scrutinize music intended for worship with the following questions in mind: • Will the music be “used as an offering for the glory of God and as a help to the people in their worship?” (Canon 24, Section 1)

• Do the lyrics come from Holy Scripture, the Book of Common Prayer, or from texts congruent with them? (Book of Common Prayer, p. 14) • Does the music support the appointed lessons? • Would the words stand alone as literature of aesthetic worth? • Are the words compatible with our theology? • Is the text universally appropriate for all worshipers? • Does the music celebrate Christ, or itself, or the musicians? • Are the demands required by the music within the grasp of the congregation? • Will copyright laws be violated by the usage of this music? • Will the music unite or divide the worshipping assembly? • Does the music bear witness to the glory, beauty, love and mercy of God? • Is the music a worthy sacrifice of praise? Inevitably, the answers to these questions will lead varying parishes to different choices. This is not a problem as long as the decisions serve Ignatius of Antioch’s admonition to “make of yourselves a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, you may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ, so that He may both hear you, and perceive by your works that you are indeed the members of His Son” (Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians). Peterson is music director at Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Diolog

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Sung Compline Strikes Divine Chord by Kenneth Peterson Every Sunday night at Seattle’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, hundreds of people gather to hear a choir sing Compline, the last monastic office of the day. They come from many walks of life and run the gamut of religious faith, social status and age. But since the mid-1960s, a large percentage of this assembly have been in their teens and twenties, and many follow a tradition begun by the “flower children”—sitting or reclining on the floor, some on blankets they have brought. This inspired a “Mystery Worshipper” to describe the Compline service in her blog as “God’s Slumber Party.” What draws this large congregation each week and an estimated 15,000 people who listen to a live broadcast on the local classical radio station? Peter Hallock, who founded the choir and started singing Compline in 1956, said more than 30 years ago that the numbers tell us “that a need is being met in the singing of this service that isn’t being met otherwise.” In Prayer as Night Falls, I expanded this to “they have a need, unmet by other religious experiences, for silence, for the absence of preaching, for no other participation than a kind of ‘active listening.’ They have, quite simply, a hunger for direct, unmediated experience of the Divine Presence.”

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at St. Mark’s better than the Rev. Ralph Carskadden, who sang in the choir with me in the 1960s, and was Priest-inCharge at St. Mark’s Cathedral not too long before his death in 2011. In choice of texts both said and sung and in the very musical settings, the dialogue, the conversation continues. Ancient plainsong hallowed and honed by at least a millennium of daily prayer, polyphony from the Renaissance, solid chorales and song-tunes of reformers and Pietists, folk tunes gathered from the countrysides, and joined with them notes from Butler, Hallock, and Proulx still wet on the page. Hymns of seraphim and cherubim, poetry of King David, prose of Isaiah, mystical texts of medieval bards, angular words of Luther, messages of hope and promise from black slaves … All of these voices are in conversation with us in this place. Surely the words of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews seem apropos, as we reflect on our experience week by week “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” (sermon, August 2004) In 1956, Seattle was the only place in North America outside of a few Anglican monasteries that one could hear Compline sung in English regularly. Now there are at least 50 choirs in the U.S. and Canada, such as the Compline Choir at St. David’s, Austin, founded in 1986. This ancient office continues to attract both choirs and listeners, in evergreater numbers. Its themes of light and darkness, life and death, and the search for protection and safety meet deep human needs, in silence and in music.

Another essential element is the space in which that experience of the divine takes place. The physical space, of course, directly affects the sound quality of the music, and certain types of music, like Gregorian chant and early polyphony, blossom when the space is resonant. Also, the choir positions itself out of the direct field of vision, signifying that the experience is about God and the listener, and not the choir as performers. The result is a kind of “psychological space”—even sacred space—where we are free to have our own personal encounter with God.

Peterson has sung with the Compline Choir in Seattle since 1964. In 2010 he became a Benedictine oblate at St. Placid Priory in Lacey, Washington.

No one has described the music of the Compline service

For more information or podcasts visits

Latino Congregations Have Diverse Musical Tastes by Sandra Montes Have you ever heard a mariachi singing from table to table at a Mexican restaurant? Have you ever gone salsa dancing? Or enjoyed the thump-thumpthump of the Afro-Latino drums rushing through your veins? If you have any Latino friends, you know that no two are the same. We speak different dialects, depending on what part of the world we represent. We cook different types of dishes­—not all of them spicy­—and we listen and dance to different beats, rhythms and instruments. Such is the music in the Episcopal Church’s Spanishspeaking or bilingual congregations. Each congregation is diverse, and even those congregations whose members are mostly from a single country have their own diversities—dialects, experiences, tastes—and these can be daunting. Of course, each congregation’s musical repertoire is influenced by its leader, its people, available instruments and exposure. You can travel through the Diocese of Texas and hear us praising in English, Spanish, cumbia, polka, traditional hymnody, contemporary praise and worship (please don’t cringe, this does not have to be a negative phrase), merengue, balada, chants (some with a twist), original pieces and the list goes on and on. We might have two or three Spanish songs that everybody knows, like “Alabare” or “Pescador de Hombres.” We sing Spanish verses to “Amazing Grace,” “Lift High the Cross” or other popular Episcopal event hymns and anthems. But what unites us is our spirit, The Spirit. That is what ultimately unites all of us.

It has taken years for the Latino/ Hispanic ministries of the Episcopal Church to come up with a cancionero (songbook) that includes music in Spanish from all nine provinces of the Episcopal Church and the world. We have almost completed the cancionero, but there are so many songs that will not be included, and it is possible that one of them might be the song for a congregation. We all are anxiously awaiting the cancionero, but that does not stop us from singing! If you go to any given Latino/Hispanic congregation, you might find el Himnario, Flor y Canto, church-made or diocesan songbooks, Albricias, projected songs, or songsheets. You will not find the same things happening in every congregation since there is no one resource that encompasses all our musical needs. You will find us singing, rejoicing, dancing and partaking of what makes us One. Our challenges are many—there are Spanish-speaking churches around this diocese with many instruments (bass, piano, guitar, percussion, flute, trombone, violin, etc.) and there are some with one or two. There are priests who prefer “traditional” and others who love “contemporary” and many who want a fusion­—although defining traditional and contemporary in Spanish or bilingual music is tricky. One huge challenge is the lack of funds to pay the musicians—some congregations pay only the director and others are run by volunteers. Montes is a songwriter, worship leader and co-director of music at San Mateo, Houston.

Sandra Montes leads attendees at the 164th Council in the singing of hymns. Photo: Luke Blount


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“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. ―— Victor Hugo

Brothers Bring Taizé to Lakota by Rita Powell This past Memorial Day weekend, a group of Brothers from the Taizé community in France joined young leaders from every reservation in South Dakota and non-native young adults to create a gathering to celebrate the possibilities of reconciliation. ( Taizépineridge) The friendship between the Brothers of Taizé and the young people in South Dakota inspired a group of teenagers to compose a Lakota Sanctus in the style of Taizé. The Taizé community, www.Taizé.fr, is an ecumenical monastic community of Brothers from around the world who live together as a sign of communion in a small village in France. They are perhaps best known in the U.S. for their music: short repetitive chants that create a meditative feeling. Their music and mission of living out reconciliation of all peoples with each other and God (Sound familiar? See BCP Cathechism!) are intertwined. The life of the Taizé community centers around daily prayers that began in the Benedictine tradition in French. In the 1970s, larger and larger groups of young people began to visit the community, wishing to be a part of this life together. Soon, it became clear that the long, complex liturgies in

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French made many of the visitors into spectators. So the Brothers began to imagine a kind of music that could be in the languages of the people they welcomed, and could be short enough to learn quickly. The style of Taizé chant was born. It has become a worldwide phenomenon, and today, you can find Taizé chants in the hymnals of many mainstream Christian denominations. Thunderhead Camp in the sacred Black Hills of western South Dakota is a place where the trees whisper and native and non-native teenagers spend time together. There are few (if any) other places in South Dakota where these two cultures interact in a good or sustained way. Each year, we manage and work through the inevitable conflicts that emerge as young people from very different worlds share meals, prayers and social space. The camp prays the offices of Morning Prayer and Compline, blended seamlessly into the Taizé style of prayer by singing parts of the Office like the Venite or Jubilate, the Nunc Dimittis or the Magnificat. The silence in the middle of the prayer, the gentle lighting, and the songs have become a beloved part of the camp pilgrimage for the young people here in South Dakota.

Photo: Luce Tremblay-Gaudette

Brothers from Taizé, France lead contemplative worship on Lakota reservaton.

(ébooher) Last summer, with the help of a friend (an organist-choirmaster trained in facilitating group composition), a small group of students—native and non-native—joined together to compose a piece of Taizé-style music. They chose the Sanctus as the piece they wished to compose, using the Merbecke setting found in the Lakota hymnal as a starting point. The word wakan is a powerful one in Lakota. It conveys the Hebrew sense of the Holy as a force or presence that is vast, mysterious and even somewhat

dangerous. Yet the word “wa” is the umbilical cord that connects us to our mother. Contained in the word that expresses the inaccessible grandeur of God is the assertion that we are intimately connected to that mystery, the source of our being. As the young people lived their week together, each day was a step toward creating the simple piece of music. A picnic at the icy cold, crystal clear Roughlock Falls, a silent meditation that allowed the voices of the pines to come through in ripples of sound, and singing Lakota hymns

in chapel all became part of the sonic landscape. The three-part wakan that the group created, after trial and error, and review by the whole camp community, contains this story. It was a privilege and a gift to sing this piece at the meeting on Pine Ridge. It was a way to honor the landscape and theology of the place, and is a tiny fruit of the reconciliation being tentatively lived out here. Powell is assistant rector for congregational development at Trinity Church, Boston.


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Choir school performs summer musical.

Choir School Opens Wider World for Choristers by Jeff Ford and Sherry Dunn Now in its eighth year, the Choir School of East Texas will have 27 choristers in the fall. The Choir School was established in 2007 to use music as a positive intervention in the lives of youth through after-school arts training, which includes vocal training, private instrumental lessons and leadership development. The program is modeled after choir schools in the northeast United States and focuses on

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Anglican-style worship. For several years Christ Church, Tyler was involved in mission work at a low-performing elementary school in Tyler Independent School District. Parishioners mentored and tutored students, worked with parents on their English language skills, and hosted a summer camp known as MAD (Music, Art and Drama) Camp. Christ Church Parish

“Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand” ―— Stevie Wonder

Administrator, Diana Keesey, and a former organist/choirmaster realized how positive the summer camp was for the students and how influential the arts were in their lives. Armed with knowledge of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) programs in the northeast, they approached a former rector and asked if they might pursue the idea of forming a choir school for Christ Church and Tyler. The first choristers were in the choir stalls by the next spring. Today, Keesey still serves as executive director, while Organist/Choirmaster Jeffrey Ford is artistic director. Those first choristers who were in elementary school when they began are now in high school. Candidates for acceptance into Choir School must audition for their place. Qualifications include singing on pitch and an ability to follow direction and be attentive. This year’s group of choristers is widely diverse socioeconomically. Hailing from more than a dozen schools— both public and private—the group is composed of African-American, Hispanic, Anglo and Asian boys and girls. There are two brothers from Russia who were adopted by a Tyler family, a young man from Taiwan who lives with a Tyler family while attending All Saints Episcopal School, children whose parents struggle to find work, children whose families own businesses, children of doctors, housekeepers, laborers and professionals. And while several come from Christ Church families, the majority do not. Choristers, who range from

third through twelfth grade, receive a scholarship worth $3,000 once they are accepted into the program. This covers their vestments, coaching and travel, as well as piano lessons and a keyboard to use at home for practice. Music lessons help each chorister learn to read music and some participate in a handbell choir or violin, harp or organ lessons taught by professional musicians. The choristers arrive at Christ Church twice a week after school to begin rehearsals and serve at the 11 o’clock Eucharist at Christ Church nearly every Sunday during the school year. A typical afternoon rehearsal includes eating a goodly-portioned meal, followed by piano lessons, small group voice lessons, study hall and tutoring, and a full group rehearsal. Over the years the choristers have traveled to the Texas Renaissance Festival and performed at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Brenham. They traveled to Boston and performed at the oldest nursing home in the country, as well as Trinity Church, Copley Square. They have also traveled to Shreveport for RSCM workshops, performed at weddings, local events and a quinceanera. Each summer the Choir School gathers for a weeklong camp that concludes with a musical performance for the public. The Choir School’s goal is for music to be a vehicle to change lives. As well as music, the choristers also develop leadership skills. The choristers are paid a small stipend every time they have a call, which increases with leadership

roles and years of service. There are three groups of choristers: Probandi (first year in training), Cantoris (second year), and Decani (3 or more years). Some of our choristers are in their eighth year of training. Beyond enhancing the music during Christ Church’s Sunday service, the choristers of the Choir School of East Texas have enhanced the lives of its parishioners. The congregation has embraced the children, learned not only their names but their personal stories, welcomed them into their homes, fed them, encouraged their musical and spiritual growth, given generously of their time and their money, and shown them the love and appreciation that all children deserve. Through such support the choristers have grown confident and gracious in public, staying away from other less-desirable relationships. The Choir School of East Texas is a separate 501 (c)(3) and receives support from individuals who are members and non-members of Christ Church. The board helps to raise funds as well as provides encouragement for the choristers at their events. A scholarship fund offers college assistance once choristers graduate high school and a recently established endowment fund will help support the Choir School of East Texas for years to come. Ford is artistic director of the Choir School. Dunn is president and a charter member of the board.


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Small Voices of Children’s Choirs Are Notes of Formationn by Michael J. Diorio, PhD

choristers asked, “Will God send that shooter to hell, or will He forgive him?” I could offer no concrete answer but instead replied, “That is, of course, up to God...but you should all know that it is not only for the innocent that prayer should be intended, but for the guilty and troubled as well. Perhaps that man needed prayers, needed help, or needed faith. It is up to us to pray for the good that we know, as well as the horrible sadness that we can not understand.”

Many church musicians in charge of adult and youth choirs often focus on the weekly process of “rehearsing and rendering.” However, we who serve as choral directors must also be cognizant of the duty to convey to our choristers the expectations of them as living members of the Church and as part of the larger fellowship within the world. Throughout the weekly process of rehearsing, note scribbling, and intervals of frustration followed by moments of joy, there exists an omnipresence. This force, a quiet and sometimes subconscious truth, is the bedrock upon which any church music program should be built: Christian formation. In my experience, Christian formation is not regularly discussed within rehearsals, and neither is it defined as the impetus for youth involvement in choir programs. In one of my rehearsals, I found myself confronted by a very difficult question in regards to the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. One of the boy 16 |

The children shook their heads back and forth as if processing, and then agreed. Later that evening just such a prayer was requested in the choir room. And for the first time we shared together a deep and profound moment in one of the more meaningful prayers I have experienced as a director. That was a moment of formation, not only for the children, but for us all. Such teachable moments of conscience are that still, small voice of formation that transcends different faiths and backgrounds. When a choral program is run well, children’s entire perception of what choir means to them will be based on the memories when they learned of social and personal responsibility—where unsolicited care and concern for another brought about important group discussions that helped form their societal priorities and a sense of ministry. Helen Kemp, the celebrated children’s choir trainer, has noted, “If through this adventure of singing, a boy or girl has felt nurtured or uplifted, then this practice has been worth it. And those children in our choirs will be our next generation of leaders in church.” Diorio is organist and director of music at Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, PA. Photo: Dan Moriarty

“Music is born out of the inner sounds within a soul; all the music that was ever heard came from the inner silence in every musician.” ―— Dr. John McLaughlin

Kansas Cathedral Focuses on Liturgical Roots by Steve Burk

Corporate worship, despite its broad title, is really a rather personal thing. What is it that draws us to a particular Episcopal congregation? Size, architectural style, stained glass, pipe organs and choirs? The Episcopal Church has deep liturgical roots, and while each congregation may take a differing approach to its liturgical practices, they all originate from one common prayer book—one common rootstock. So with the ever-present “liturgical winds” blowing us to and fro, how a community develops a successful corporate worship practice is more about focus and preparation rather than the style of worship. Whether a worship band and song leaders or a trained choir and a pipe organ, liturgical consumers recognize and often seek out liturgical excellence. People are more comfortable worshipping where things are done consistently well so the process itself is not a distraction. The Book of Common Prayer provides one of the best frameworks for planning and implementing an excellent worship service—every time. But, it takes effort and focus to do this well week after week. At Grace Cathedral, we made a choice 12 years ago not to be something that we are not. We chose to focus on offering God the best, traditional, mainline

Episcopal service we could manage. We decided to get out of the “wind” and focus on our liturgical practices and procedures. We chose to minister to the congregation already present rather than focus on the people who might come if…. For years the Cathedral floundered experimenting with different types of music, different service formats and services offered in different worship spaces. They tried to provide a little something for everyone and all it did was fracture and liturgically confuse the congregation. It showed in attendance and lack of new members. So we focused on what we could do best—especially given our downtown location and historic buildings. We reverted to a single musical service each Sunday (along with one earlier spoken service). A core of about 250 tried-and-true hymns from The Hymnal 1982 encouraged better participation by the congregation. Our children’s choir and acolytes became our primary tools for involving youth in worship services. And while we didn’t do an “instructed liturgy,” we instructed during every liturgy, seizing educational moments whenever the opportunity presented itself. People gained a deep awareness of who they are as Episcopalians. As our congregation became more aware

and educated about the tradition, beauty, history and meanings that we utilized each Sunday, they embraced their church, heritage, and traditional worship practices. They became joyful and participated more fully each Sunday morning in a beautiful worship service. Today, Grace Cathedral has expanded its many ministries as a downtown, destination church and even attracts young people and families. Choristers regularly sing beautiful and challenging classical sacred music, and teams of acolytes perform all of the ceremonial duties required for a complex, liturgical service. People are focused on doing their best and it shows in the numbers of new members and visitors we see each week. It wasn’t so much about choosing a style of worship, but choosing to be meaningful worshipers. Grace Cathedral is anything but boring or stagnant—it is a creative congregation focused on preserving its liturgical and musical heritage while educating its people about their unique place in Christendom that strengthens us and keeps us connected to our one Lord. Burk is organist and choirmaster at Grace Cathedral, Topeka, KS and an active member of the Royal School of Church Music in America. Diolog

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MUSIC “Every kind of music is good, except the boring kind.” ―— Gioacchino Rossini

Music Takes Me There by Pam Wiesen Rodgers Music has a wonderful way of keeping some of our best memories alive. These are the songs you catch yourself humming or the ones that stay in your head for days. Recently, I heard songs I first learned in 1962 at a Camp Fire Girls outing in Silsbee, Texas, replayed on a Peter, Paul and Mary concert on TV. I was 10 years old then and camp was my first experience of spending a week away from my family. I fell in love with Camp Waluta, the Piney Woods of East Texas and the star-filled sky at the top of the trees. Camp Waluta became a part of my summer for the following two years and part of me for the rest of my life. Music and camp songs were very much a part of the camp experience. We sang before meals, doing chores and during the Council Fire held the last night before going home. Listening to those songs in my head always brings a smile and a flood of warm, wonderful memories of when so much of the world was new to me. I can still tie a square knot, correctly pass a pocketknife and build a teepee fire. I know what poison ivy looks like, and I can also identify a coral snake and pygmy rattler. I remain enamored with pine trees and the lights of the stars. Camp counselors and older girls brought guitars to camp each summer and taught us traditional camp songs along with some of the popular music of the early ‘60s. This article is reprinted with permission.

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Our camp songs were fun and sung with enthusiasm. I can still sing the first verses of the raucous “McNamara’s Band” and all of the dishwashing song “Gully, Gully, Gully, Wash, Wash, Wash.” Some of my favorite ballads were “Cruel War,” “Blowin’ in the Wind” and a song about a racehorse called “Stewball.” They were sung with soulful voices around campfires. I got older and forgot Camp Waluta for a while—boys and rock & roll took the place of pine trees and camp songs. I never heard “McNamara’s Band” on the radio but I did hear “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Needless to say, I had an “ah ha” moment the first time I heard Peter, Paul and Mary sing one of my beloved camp songs on the radio. “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “If I Had a Hammer” may have had far more meaning beyond the understanding of a 10-year-old. They spoke of the changing and often difficult times of the 1960s. The time I spent in the pine forest at Camp Waluta was a long time ago, but I distinctly remember looking up at the sky and understanding the connection between the Almighty and the beauty around me. I find God along the trails and memories of a child and know I am at my best among the pines. Music takes me there. Rogers is a member of Trinity, Marble Falls.

RESOURCES Royal School of Church Music in America

GIA Publications, Inc.

Association of Anglican Musicians

EDOT Music Commission

Church Publishing Inc.

The TaizĂŠ Community


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MUSIC MUST BE THE WORK OF THE PEOPLE by John Jones* Have you ever been to a Eucharist where the music touched you so profoundly that you remembered it long after the service was over? Or have you ever experienced a sense of being together with fellow parishioners, when it seemed like everyone in the room was “on the same page?” Where the music seemed to flow around you as much as from you? Is it any wonder poets describe music as “the language of the soul” and “the universal language of humankind?” (K. Gibran, H.W. Longfellow) On the other hand, have you ever wondered why some of our sacred music seems more like a foreign language than a universal one? Sometimes we’ve gone from cherishing a tradition that sustains us to preserving a relic of history that burdens us. If our music (and perhaps our liturgy) seems empty, then simply changing the musical style won’t resolve the problem. In Scripture, Samuel explains why God has not anointed the older brothers of the soon-to-be-king David: “For the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NRSV). How does the idea of “looking on the heart” relate to church music? Other denominations send their church musicians to seminary before hiring them to work in their churches. We Anglicans often hire

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It is skill and humility that allow the church musician to enhance the worship experience for everyone. We have many musicians who put the congregation’s need to have a meaningful encounter with God above their personal need to show their musical prowess. Humility in this context means that our musicians must carefully select music so the congregation remains engaged. It means having a sense of “where” our people are musically and being sensitive to these questions: Does the congregation feel connected? Is there understanding about what we’re doing? What works in a large urban cathedral may not work in a small rural parish and vice versa. Humility means carefully and gradually introducing new music with patience and kindness. It means playing music in such a way that invites and encourages participation, rather than discouraging it—overwhelming the congregation with the new, the artistic, the “great” music—music that doesn’t sound so great if no one is singing. Like liturgy, our music must be “the work of the people,” that is, an authentic expression of who we are—at this moment­—together before God. And it takes a skillful church musician to read that roadmap. Effective church musicians lead us by example. When a church musician comes to worship with a sense of holy expectation and a deep joyfulness, their joy is contagious. The congregation will join with the musicians who are worshiping themselves. As Jesus demonstrated, leadership begins with humility spoken in the language of love. And that’s the language we all understand and long to hear. The apostle Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians that we “are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (12:27). All of us are equally important and necessary to the community. As a church we are challenged to believe it. We are called to make room and help young people find a place to belong. *Jones is a pen name for an ordained Episcopal priest on the East Coast who is also a church musician. He holds degrees in music performance and theology. John Jones was also the name of an organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the eighteenth century.


church musicians from music conservatories. If someone is a well-trained musician, we presume that our church music will be excellent as well. But conservatories teach musicians how to perform, not how to lead worship. While training is important, Paul offers some advice. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul exhorts us to “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who . . . emptied [and] humbled himself.” (Philippians 2:3–8 NRSV)

TRUE CALLING SEGUES TO PITCH-PERFECT MINISTRY Martha Lewis is the co-creator of the Music for Healing and Transition Program, which provides therapeutic music. Read her story at

60 YEARS OF AMAZING GRACE Beverly Hillburn has played the organ and piano at St. John’s, Tyler, for 60 years. See her story and a video at

ANGLETON ORGANIST WINS SPOT IN INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION Yuri McCoy of Holy Comforter, Angleton, competed in the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition. Watch a video profile at


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Local Musicians Bring New Facet to Conversations, Worship by the Rev. Merrill Wade

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“Music is my religion.” ―— Jimi Hendrix

Photo: Creative Commons

The City of Austin takes its music and itself seriously, now making the audacious claim to be the “Live Music Capital of the World!” At St. Matthew’s on the corner of Steck and Mesa in Northwest Austin, our musical claim is more tongue-incheek. We call ourselves the “Live Music Capital of Northwest Austin.” Yes, we do offer a lot of live music, in multiple settings and with diverse styles. Inspired by the visionary encouragement from the Diocese of Texas to find creative ways to connect with people not attending church, St. Matthew’s applied for and received a Strategic Mission Grant from the Quin Foundation and the Episcopal Foundation of Texas. Our desire was to create an atmosphere of creativity and authentic spiritual conversation with local singer/songwriters, (so-called secular musicians) that are well-known in the Austin community. On February 17, 2013, we launched the Soul of a Musician Series on Sunday nights at Spicewood Tavern, a relatively new restaurant a stone’s throw from St. Matthew’s. We have learned a lot in our first 18 Sunday night gatherings. We discovered, week by week, that the virtues of faith, hope and love can be nurtured through non-religious music. The artists we engage in music and conversation are not preaching

the Gospel per se, but the message of their music invariably evokes images and echoes of the Kingdom. And the relationships we are creating with local musicians are heartening, and they love the gig! Why? They are taken seriously, paid a reasonable honorarium, and fed a good meal, and in discussing their music they let their guard down and speak from the heart about their joys and challenges in life. It is a lovely bonus that they are skilled professional musicians who provide fantastic music, all sponsored by the local Episcopal Church, which shatters a lot of stereotypes with the musicians, their friends and families, and fans. A commitment to creativity impacts Sunday mornings as well. A typical musical offering from a recent Sunday morning included one of our Soul of a Musician Series artists, Elizabeth McQueen, the female lead singer with Asleep at the Wheel, a national band led by Austin music legend Ray Benson. During the liturgy, Elizabeth led a rousing congregational song “Wade in the Water” (sequence hymn); sang two solos—”When They Ring Those Golden Bells” and “Amazing Grace”—accompanying herself on guitar with backup vocals by our college ensemble at communion. Elizabeth sang for the family service in the parish hall and then hustled over to our main service. After church, members of the congregation were

invited to stay for a brief concert. Elizabeth sang three songs from her album The Laziest Girl in Town and afterwards the congregation was able to purchase CD’s directly from her if they desired. Elizabeth told Jean Fuller, our music director and contributor to this article, that she especially appreciated the mix of professionalism and warm hospitality that allowed her to relax and enjoy herself. Wherever you are in Texas, you are surrounded by people with great talent, whether it is music, poetry, theatre, art, writing, or anything else that expresses God’s gifts in ways that are not necessarily connected to the church. To translate our experience into hopeful encouragement for our friends across this Diocese, look around you. Whom can you say “yes” to who has long believed that the church has no place or respect for them?At St. Matthew’s we reached out to musicians because they constitute the primary creative class in our city. The idea of the Soul of a Musician is portable but needs to be tailored to the creative entrepreneurs surrounding the parish church wherever it may be. This requires worthwhile study. Go for it! Wade is rector of St. Matthew’s, Austin, and a seminar leader at SXSW (South by Southwest), an international annual music, film and interactive conference held in Austin.

Wherever you are in Texas, you are surrounded by people with great talent, whether it is music, poetry, theatre, art, writing, or anything else that expresses God’s gifts in ways that are not necessarily connected to church. Diolog

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Ancient Chants Carry Power

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“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” — Ludwig Van Beethoven

by Adam Wood Ancient chants were anything but solemn and mannered. They were sung unaccompanied, quickly, and with gusto. Documented complaints from archbishops reveal how the chants were too emotional, too ecstatic, too unrefined. They were sung to inspire soldiers on the battlefield, and comfort the dying in hospitals. They had the power, so the medievals believed, to dispel demons and conjure visions of the dead, who sang the songs along with the living. We do not know what the music of the first Christians sounded like. We can, though, get an idea. We know that the psalm singing of the Jews, the ritual songs of preChristian Roman temples, the musical philosophy of Classical Greece, and the folk songs of various native tribes throughout Europe somehow combined to create the music that became the genesis of all other serious music in the Western tradition—the liturgical plainsong commonly called “Gregorian chant.” The history of this music’s development is shrouded in mystery and legend. Like the Bible, the music that formed the basis of all other music in the West began as an aural tradition, passed from teacher to student for centuries. It was refined, redacted, edited, and altered­—but the core of it was preserved through a thousand years, until the invention of written

music notation towards the close of the first millennium allowed the chants to be set down in a fixed manner, preserved for all future generations. By the twelfth century every monastery in Europe had learned to sing it, and the bulk of its repertoire, chants for specific moments of the liturgy and for specific days of the year, had become fixed. Indeed, twelfth- and thirteenth-century sources refer to the cycle of liturgical songs with the same kind of language used to describe the progression of the stars and planets through the heavens. So well-known was this cycle that legal documents could be dated with the words of the entrance chant for the day, a practice that survives whenever you hear the Third Sunday of Advent referred to as “Gaudete Sunday” (from the Introit Gaudete in Domino semper, “Rejoice in the Lord always”). The monastic character of Anglican spirituality led to a retention of Gregorian chant in our liturgical practices to a degree unparalleled in other Protestant traditions. A quick scan through The Hymnal reveals a great number of Gregorian hymns­— so many that I know of at least one Roman Catholic monastery that has the 1982 hymnal in its choir stalls for use in daily prayer. Even Anglican chant, and the styles of choral music most associated with English liturgy, both find their origins in the medieval monastic repertoire.

In my opinion, the unfortunate thing about how Gregorian chant has been preserved in modern Episcopal practice is that it is often infused with a certain Victorian mannerism typical of “traditional” Protestant service music: accompanied by an organ, sung a bit slowly, harmonized like a nineteenthcentury hymn. When I hear that, I think it is no wonder that too many people consider older forms of music, like chant, to be boring or irrelevant. Gregorian chant, sung in an alienating and antiqued manner, often has the effect of a veil or an altar rail—walling off the sacred, barring access to those of us unworthy to be initiated into its mysteries. But this need not be so. The medieval church knew something we would do well to remember—music has the power to tear down the veil that separates us on Earth from those in Heaven—to reveal, like a sacrament, that which it signifies. Indeed, this should be the purpose and power of all Christian music. Wood is the Director of Music at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Hurst, TX (Diocese of Fort Worth). He blogs at The Chant Café (, Music for Sunday (musicforsunday. org) and Otherwise Orthodox ( You can also find his hymns, poems and essays at: adam.michael.wood_writing

Photo: Lucien leGrey/Creative Commons


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Cathedral’s Robert Simpson Hits a High Note Robert Simpson, AAGO, ChM, SMM, is organist/choirmaster at Houston’s historic Christ Church Cathedral, and founder and artistic director of the Houston Chamber Choir. He also serves on the faculty of The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University as lecturer of Church Music. An honors graduate of Brown University, Simpson was a student of Robert Baker at The School of Sacred Music, Union Theological Seminary and Michael Schneider at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany. He earned the associate and Choirmaster Certificates from the American Guild of Organists and served as vice chair of the Standing Commission on Church Music for the Episcopal Church and on the editorial board of the African-American hymnal Lift Every Voice and Sing II. Simpson spoke with diocesan editor, Carol E. Barnwell recently: Robert Simpson

CEB: Where are you from and how did you end up in Houston? RS: Coming to Houston and Christ Church Cathedral is one of the most unexpected, and best, things that ever happened to me. Born in suburban New Jersey (yes, there are suburban parts of New Jersey) and educated at Brown, my early dreams were to have a New York City church. But upon returning to the States from Germany in 1974, I received a call to the Episcopal Cathedral in Orlando, Florida, where I spent five very happy years that led to 15 more at St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta. Then, out of the blue, I received a phone call from Dr. Clyde Holloway, who was leaving his position as Organist-Choirmaster at Christ Church Cathedral to devote his full energies to heading the Organ Department at Rice University’s Shepherd School. He encouraged me to look into the position, and after a visit and meeting Dean Walter Taylor, I realized that my time on the East Coast was coming to an end. I wanted to be a part of the exciting ministry of this Cathedral. Within two weeks of arrival I had bought cowboy boots. I’ve never looked back. CEB: Who inspired your love of music? RS: My earliest memories of music are entwined with the Wurlitzer reed organ my Simpson grandparents had in their living room. Photos confirm my childhood memory that it was the size of a small SUV because it had reeds, not electronics inside. My grandparents lived nearby and often after Sunday dinners at their home I watched in fascination as my grandfather played hymns of his youth (“The Old Rugged Cross,” “I come to the Photo: Christ Church Cathedral

Photo: Houston Chronicle


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garden alone”). By the time I was five or six, I was “improvising” my own organ music and holding services patiently attended by my grandmother. I would play the prelude, preach a sermon, take up an offering and then play the postlude. Then we’d turn on the TV to watch Hopalong Cassidy.

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with playing “The Happy Farmer” by Robert Schumann (my first piece by a “real’ composer) that my parents begged me to stop.

CEB: Would you share an early memory of being touched by a piece of music? RS: What a wonderful question. I haven’t thought of this in years but my earliest memory of being overcome by music was when I was in first grade. Like many kids of my generation I had a library of Little Golden Books and some came with records. One day in my room I randomly put a record on my record player and as the music began (the Andante from Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart), my eye fell on a sketch of a lone Civil War soldier standing sentry duty. Somehow the gentle melody and that image melded

CEB: What led you to be a church musician? RS: Once my love of the organ became full blown in seventh grade (the start of my two-year campaign to be allowed to switch from piano to organ), I never doubted that I wanted to be a church organist. By that time I had stopped “playing church” with my grandmother and a real calling was at work. As I approached college, my parents expressed their strong reservation to music as my career path, and so we agreed that I would get an undergraduate liberal arts education and then pursue music in graduate school if I still felt so inclined. And that’s what I did. I had the great fortune of finding a superb organ teacher in college who helped me cover enough ground to hold my

in my mind, and I was filled with a lonely sadness for the sentry, a feeling I can summon even today by thinking back. But then in my first year of piano a year later I became so taken

own in graduate school auditions and I went on to the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York, a legendary place no longer in operation that had produced

generations of this country’s leading church musicians including Gerre and Judith Hancock, and Fred Swann who served both Riverside Church and The Crystal Cathedral! It was a magical two years followed by two more in Germany. CEB: How is your own faith woven into your profession? RS: I believe that music is a fundamental human expression that can tap into our deepest emotions. It is for this reason that it has been a part of worship throughout history. Below the level of harmony, counterpoint, structure and instrumentation, music touches us at our core. Our strongest emotions, be they happy or sad, bring us to a point where words fail and only music remains. We hum, we whistle, we sing “Happy Birthday,” “Old Lang Syne,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” This is not a conditioned response or social convention. This comes out of our very soul. To recognize this is to recognize God within each of us. My lucky life is being spent connecting people to this source of life. CEB: For the novice, what should we

Robert Simpson leads the dress rehearsal at the Shanghai Conservatory, where he was invited to conduct Mozart’s Requiem.

look for in a worship service from the music? RS: One characteristic of a great actor like Merle Streep is the degree to which she hides all signs of “acting.” The same is true of music in worship at its best. It should not draw attention to itself. In fact, music should be a mirror with no image of its own. Its job is to reflect the themes of the appointed lessons, the liturgical season and the worship space. When this happens, music becomes a powerful and even thrilling element in worship. And the compositions themselves, regardless of their idiom, must be well written and thoroughly prepared. In the words of the renowned American choral conductor Robert Shaw, “The dove does not descend to a dirty branch.” CEB: How did you come to found The Houston Chamber Choir? RS: I came to Houston with the hope of founding a professional choir.

I love the wealth of sacred music I do at the Cathedral, but I wanted to tackle secular works, too. With the blessing of Dean Walter Taylor, and my wife, Marianna, I did just that in 1996. The past 17 years have seen the Houston Chamber Choir grow from a fledgling group to a recognized leader among American professional choirs with a creative, administrative staff and singers on a par with the best anywhere. Our most recent CD was identified as a “must have” by Fanfare Magazine. Throughout the years Cathedral parishioners and Deans Taylor, Reynolds and Thompson have been unfailing in their support. Combining the Chamber Choir and the Cathedral with my position as Lecturer of Church Music at The Shepherd School of Music gives me an enormously satisfying range of professional opportunities. CEB: What work have you done in the church?

RS: I was appointed to the Standing Commission on Church Music in the early 1980s, an especially exciting time. The Hymnal 1982 had just come out, and there was a need for diocesan workshops around the country to introduce new hymns and service music. I traveled a lot and particularly enjoyed teaming up with the Rt. Rev. Judson Child, then Bishop of Atlanta. I was also charged with leading the first committee to plan a Hispanic hymnal and to undertake a national study of the Episcopal Church’s lay retirement plan that eventually led to a revamping of the pension formula. But perhaps the most fun of all was being invited onto the editorial board of Lift Every Voice and Sing II, An African American Hymnal. What an education I received and what wonderful people I got to know. Diolog

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“Punk Rock Just Totally Saved My Life” by Carol E. Barnwell The Rev. Bertie Pearson has taken a circuitous route back home to Austin where he serves as vicar for San Francisco de Asis. Along the road, his music and his faith fueled the miles between college in Berkeley and Paris, working as a DJ and playing in several bands from the West Coast to the East. Music royalties also helped support him through seminary.

Episcopalian, kind of Buddhist; and my dad is culturally and completely rooted in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer— loves it passionately and also is a complete atheist,” Pearson said. When he was seven, he told his father he wanted to be a priest. “That’s a great job if you believe that there’s a man who lives in the sky and controls everything,” the elder Pearson said.

Pearson grew up in Austin and can’t remember when music was not a central part of his life. His father was a professional musician, and even as a small child, Pearson remembers beating on his tricycle seat with sticks. His grandmother gave him a keyboard when he was in the fourth grade, and his first drum set came from Doc Holliday’s Pawn Shop in South Austin. He bought it with $100 he earned painting his uncle’s oil tanks over the summer when he was 12. “That tar-like black oil paint just coated your skin,” he said. “It was impossible to get off … had to be in violation of every conceivable child labor law—straight out of Dickens,” he laughed.

Pearson describes himself as a “total outcast” growing up. As an only child he spent a lot of time with adults. “I was the classic nerd,” he said, recalling how appalled he was in junior high to learn that his peers sometimes paid $75 for a pair of jeans. That’s when he first heard a band called the Dead Kennedys.

Pearson’s father played with the Flatlanders, one of country music’s first alternative bands in early ‘70s. He later earned a graduate degree in classics. Pearson’s mother was a textile artist who parlayed a secretarial job into an opportunity to learn computer animation, composing the first iteration of the popular children’s video series, Veggie Tales. She did icons for the local television weather broadcast and was soon animating talking M&M’s. Today she works for DreamWorks and is currently in production on How to Train Your Dragon 2. While Pearson’s parents weren’t active participants in church, they did send their son to parochial schools, so chapel was always a part of daily life. “My mom was kind of

“Suddenly here were these songs expressing exactly the way I felt about the world—that we should all be kind to each other—that all this consumerism is ridiculous … in this really fast, aggressive music,” he explained. He listened to Minor Threat, a D.C.-based band in the early 80s that advocated a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle, and Black Flag, one of the first hard-core punk bands. “Punk rock just totally saved my life,” Pearson mused. With this new sound came new friends in that music scene who shared his ideals. The green hair and safety pins some sported were just ways of saying “we don’t want to belong,” he explained. But as this music became more mainstream, Pearson was surprised to find the school “jocks” has changed their tune. “Suddenly all these guys at Austin High who used to threaten to beat us up were saying, ‘Oh, you guys are cool!’ and we thought, ‘Oh, no! Our whole plot has failed!’” Pearson’s group of friends started dressing Mod, like the

Photo: KRD Photos


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early Beatles, and throwing dance parties. For his first DJ gig Pearson rented a mixer for $12 and used a couple of home turntables. He continued to DJ when he moved to the Bay Area for college, later playing venues in Barcelona and Paris. He played in several different bands and even had a record contract with a major label for a short time. Despite the lack of enthusiasm from his parents in the religion department, integrating faith and music in his life was never a struggle for Pearson. His call to the priesthood remained strong, but Pearson decided to try other career options before pursuing ordination “to make sure,” he said. He played music, tried writing for a magazine, and worked in a homeless shelter, but still felt, in each case, something was missing. “After diving in with both feet into all these different things that I might want to do with my life, I realized that I have an emotional and spiritual call to the priesthood,” Pearson said. “It is the one thing that engages every part of myself—the one vocation in which I could really be myself totally, all the time.” At UC Berkeley in the late 90s, Pearson said it was his Christianity that raised eyebrows among fellow musicians and students. “You could dabble in Buddhism, but even that was seen as a little cheesy. Any kind of religion was incredibly suspect, so for years I just didn’t really talk about it … but I never missed mass.” Even when his band was on tour, he’d go to services.


“I haven’t missed a Sunday in 12 years,” he said. Reaction to Pearson’s church attendance from people in the music scene was sometimes hostile, but more and more frequently it was met with interest and curiosity. The more positive feedback he got, the more confident about sharing his faith he became. He was also happy to discover the Anglo-Catholic tradition while in college in San Francisco, which suited his aesthetic more closely than his previous low-church experience. “That was really fulfilling,” he said, “kind of like stepping outside of time and having an hour sitting before God and all God’s majesty.” Pearson met his wife, Rahel, a Dutchborn fashion model, backstage during a fashion show where his band was playing in 2006. They discovered a shared faith in God and a love of Kierkegaard and were married in 2009, two years after Pearson graduated from seminary at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. “Rahel wasn’t caught up in all that stuff,” Pearson said of the runway shows in Paris and Milan and her multiple magazine covers. He said they both believe that humility is an essential component of their faith—“Humility in the sense that I have a soul which stands before God equal to every other soul before God.” Rahel is currently finishing a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Texas. The Bishop of California, Bill Andrus, asked Pearson to find a way to involve young people in the church following his ordination. “I knew how to promote a nightclub, so I decided to create an arts event that centered on the holy and the Church,” Pearson said. With friends who were gallery curators, he developed EpiscoDisco which featured an art installation and music, lots of music. “We wanted people to come on their terms and experience

ys o B e s i d Para


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The Rev. Bertie Pearson

the sacred on their terms … Time and joy and peace and meaning that after time, there were these incredible everything comes from for me,” he said. experiences.” The event continued to grow “I see God’s nature with perfect clarity and was “this seamless comingling of hip in Jesus and it’s the Spirit, which I think San Francisco art world and the Episcopal inspires my music and my prayer and Church.” which inspires acts of compassion …” Music has always been a part of Pearson’s life. So has God. There was no “conversion” experience for him. “It’s like gravity,” he said, “always there… God is the source of stability and strength

With Pearson’s knack for celebrating the fullness of life on the edge, he does seem at home amidst the mostlyimmigrant community of San Francisco de Asis. “San Francisco is made up of

some of the most kindhearted, selfless Christians I’ve ever had the honor of serving,” he said, adding, “Most of them exhibit this fever pitch of devotion and kindness under phenomenally difficult economic circumstances.” The congregation just launched a new worship service in English and Pearson has hopes to share the treasure of the Episcopal Church with all of his neighbors in the South Austin area.

Photo: Alanna Hale


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Virtually There

Palmer Takes Service Online by Luke Blount Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church has a fantastic location in Houston, nestled between Hermann Park, the Texas Medical Center and Rice University. But thanks to some innovative thinking and a healthy amount of perseverance, Palmer isn’t limited to just that space—they can reach people all around the world. On Easter of this year, the church leadership launched Palmer Radio, a live audio stream of the church service on the Internet. This fall, they plan to expand that offering into video as well, calling it “Palmer Live.” For the staff at Palmer, the project has been the result of a long series of trials and improvements to existing systems, but their experimentation has led to discovering a system that most

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churches could easily and cheaply replicate. “If it were a snake it would have bit me,” said Ross Heinsohn, Palmer’s media ministry and youth ministry director. “All these things were laying out there, these puzzle pieces that needed to be put together. And all of the sudden, we can stream live video and audio for $8 a month.” Heinsohn began experimenting with streaming video when the church leadership asked him to find a way to broadcast the service from the Palmer nave into St. Bede’s Chapel on the other side of the church campus. To accomplish this, Heinsohn purchased a camera with a long zoom and hooked it into a product called a “Slingbox,”

You don’t need all of this equipment to have a radio station.

which allows someone to wirelessly tap into a live stream of video from anywhere in the world. Then, they hooked a laptop into a projector in St. Bede’s, logged into the Slingbox and voila: a live video stream! This innovation allowed Palmer to reduce their five morning services down to two when they needed to host church-wide events on campus. Not long after completing that project, the leadership pushed Heinsohn further, asking him to find a way to broadcast a live service over the Web. The only problem was that the original structure allowed only one viewer to tap into the video stream, so they needed a new fix. Professional estimates ranged close to $10,000 just to get a system set up, which was definitely not in the budget. That’s when Heinsohn realized what was there all along. The church staff had recently switched their email server to Google Mail, enrolling in a service called Google for Nonprofits. As part of their charitable donations, Google provides free services to nonprofit organizations, which includes email hosting, cloud storage, advertising and even grants. And since Google owns YouTube, organizations enrolled in Google for Nonprofits receive free upgraded YouTube accounts, including free live-streaming. Heinsohn downloaded a piece of

software that would allow him to control multiple cameras and microphones at once and direct a stream to any source for $8 a month. Then he directed his output to the Palmer YouTube channel, enabling Palmer to broadcast their services to anyone with an online connection, including mobile devices like phones and tablets. To most people, this setup would seem incredibly difficult to even understand, much less implement, but Heinsohn insists that every church has someone in their congregation who is tech-savvy enough to create a similar system. “In my ministries, I follow my grandmother’s advice which was ‘do what you can with what you got, where you are at,’” Heinsohn said. “Being able to do things by ourselves using the hands that God gave us and the brains that God gave us and the creativity that God gave us to come up with these ways to spread the word of God is one of the things I love most about my job.” With just minor improvements to existing resources, Palmer services are now heard in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and even Puerto Rico. According to Heinsohn, a family from Puerto Rico has now formally joined the church through their interactions online. Additionally, the new capabilities of Palmer’s media ministry has allowed the youth to contribute in new ways while gaining valuable work experience working with audio, video and software. “Having the youth serve as acolytes and lay readers is fantastic, but some youth are not extroverts or do not like putting on albs and sitting in front of the entire congregation,” Heinsohn said. “This allows those individuals who feel called to serve God in the church

to do so without putting themselves in uncomfortable situations. If you are an introvert and don’t like standing in front of people, wonderful! You are going to come back here and stand in front of this camera.” For Palmer, the addition of a live feed of their services has impacted all ages, non-members and members alike. Perhaps the most important aspect of this new technology is the ability for those who are homebound or hospitalized to participate in the service on Sunday mornings. Fran Wallis, Palmer’s membership secretary, has listened to Palmer Radio several times from her home. She battles daily with the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis, and sometimes she cannot make it to church. “I can hear it live, and it’s glorious,” she said. “The reason I come to church is to give glory and honor and worth to God. Now, in my small way, I can do that at home when I can’t make it in.” Depending on the day, Wallis can sometimes get ready fairly quickly. But other days, it may take hours just to get out of her home. With Palmer Radio, Wallis can stay in her pajamas, close her eyes and sing along with the hymns as she used to do as a member of the choir. “It’s just special,” Wallis said. “You feel like you are still there. It is a way to complete the day … It just brings in the people who aren’t able to attend and makes them feel like they are part of the community. You may be a face that isn’t seen at the church, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t there.” To learn more about Palmer Radio and Palmer Live, contact Palmer at 713.529.6196 or visit palmerchurch.


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JESUS, WORSHIP AND ALL THAT by Carol E. Barnwell Jazz services have been an integral part of worship at St. James’, Austin and St. James’, Houston for more than 15 years, and while the music is not strictly “jazz,” the vibe never disappoints. In both services, music sets the tone for joyful worship, whether it’s jazz or jazzed-up hymns, spirituals, gospels or spirit-filled secular music. Both services began in the late ‘90s and were designed to offer an alternative for people who wanted a later and more relaxed opportunity to worship. In Austin, they use the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer for its inclusive language. In Houston, St. James’ uses Rite II from the Book of Common Prayer. In both congregations the music and worship leaders bring a lifetime of experience to their roles that shape the jazz service. ST. JAMES’, AUSTIN Martha Pulkingham is rooted in the charismatic movement in the Episcopal Church. It began in the 1960s at Church of the Redeemer, Houston and has evolved into the Community of Celebration based in Pennsylvania Living in community, members of Celebration offer themselves in service to the Church and to the world. Pulkingham’s father founded the movement and her mother was a church musician. Today, Pulkingham is worship leader for the jazz service at St. James’ in Austin, where she first brought her joy and enthusiasm as a volunteer. She was then asked to join the staff. A licensed professional counselor in private practice, she also works with the SIMS Foundation, a group that subsidizes counseling for musicians.


she said. At St. James’ the sense of community in worship and the commitment to inclusivity drew Pulkingham in the same way she hopes the Jazz service will speak to others. “It connects with people and I think reaches them on many different emotional levels … When it’s done well, it’s not distracting but draws people into the worship experience,” Pulkingham said. She often invites professional musicians from Austin’s wide-ranging talent pool “who add a rich musical texture to our worship with their improvisational abilities as well as jazz interpretations of traditional hymnody.” The number of singers and musicians ranges from a few to a full rhythm section and “another horn or two.” The choral section sometimes has four, sometimes 12. The music draws heavily from The Hymnal 1982, Lift Every Voice and Sing, Come Celebrate and Wonder, Love and Praise, adding jazz influences and roots gospel. Pulkingham, whose husband is a jazz musician, said her job as worship leader is to know who is coming—paid or volunteer—and to draw on the gifts that are present, including a core number of people who make up their choral group. Their 5 p.m. service is a smaller congregation than the one on Sunday morning, but it’s growing. While not as racially diverse as the morning worship services, Pulkingham said it seems to draw families with small children. The late afternoon time was originally chosen to appeal to professional musicians, college students and other night owls.

But it’s a very personal reason that leads one person to choose a jazz service over a more traditional one. “I believe “I was surrounded by a rich musical experience, blending that music, whether Bach or roots gospel, when done well, traditional music with what was mostly folk music at the connects with people on an emotional and spiritual level,” time. I thought this was normal and only later [found] it she said, “whatever style it is … as long as it’s done well, that was not a usual worship experience in the Episcopal Church,” leaves room for an experience that’s worshipful.” 36 |

Music is obviously not the only expression of worship, but Pulkingham believes it plays an important role in either distracting from or adding to the quality of the entire worship experience. “It allows people to open up and more fully experience the word, the message, and each other, and I think it has the capacity to stay with us—like when you find yourself during the week humming the tune or song you sang or heard. I think it reaches us in places that the spoken word cannot.” She believes the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer also adds a freshness to the worship service. “It’s not too unfamiliar, just different.” While worshipers looking for traditional or contemplative experience might be disappointed if they stumbled into a jazz service, most have a very positive response. Some members said they chose St. James’ as their church home because of the jazz service. The choral group is not only a ministry to others, but a place of ministry for its members. It has been a place of healing for Laura Lucinda McCutchen. “These people come together and create a spiritual place in time and space, and the music is the result,” she said. “The people are the vessel of God’s love. They love me and accept me no matter who I am on that day, because that’s what Jesus calls us to do and because, in the big picture, it gives us joy, even when it’s hard, which sometimes it is. I hope I show others in the church and in the world the same kind of love and acceptance I feel. I sure couldn’t share this love and this faith without the experience that our service and our people give me.” ST. JAMES’, HOUSTON Concurrently, in the late ‘90s, St. James’, Houston, began a

contemporary jazz service introducing door to other ways of worshipping,” the Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, led Dinkins said, noting that the worship by drummer/percussionist Samuel experience and its order of worship Dinkins, III. The group offered up are welcoming to non-Episcopalians spirituals, gospel and spirit-filled as well as familiar to Episcopalians. secular styles of music along with “During the passing of the peace you’ll jazzed up traditional hymns at a noon hear the song ‘The Mission of St. James’ Eucharist. The service brought many as the congregation sings and dances. new parishioners to St. James’ and after Our mission is ‘to proclaim the good five years in the parish hall, attendance news of Jesus Christ, share our gifts had grown enough to move into the and bring together all people.’” church. “This service allows me to express Dinkins, originally from Brooklyn, something that is almost cellular to me N.Y., grew up in the United Methodist … I grew up in an alternative way that tradition and has been a musician for was very focused on worship … I love more than 40 years. He has performed being a part of it,” Pulkingham said. with many groups and artists, Worshippers may not understand why, including James Cleveland, a singer but they experience intrinsically all and composer who is known as the the joy Pulkingham brings as worship creator of modern gospel sound; R&B leader. and gospel singer Stephanie Mills; jazz Dinkins promises if you visit St. pianist and composer Joe Sample; and James’, you will be “blessed by the Aretha Franklin. Dinkins brought this Word,” and you will “leave singing.” rich musical heritage to the worship at What’s better than that? St. James’. Dinkins said that the music he chooses to begin the worship experience is designed to “usher in the Holy Spirit and prepare God’s people for praise and worship.” The congregation uses a sung arrangement for the Nicene Creed, and a jazz interpretation of the Doxology and Sanctus. Dinkins uses improvisational elements of jazz, but he said, “the congregation also experiences gospel, spirituals, hymns, praise and worship and R&B/pop styles of music.” “The Ensemble has Bible study during their weekly rehearsal,” Dinkins said. “We study the readings and use songs in our repertoire, as well as find and write new music that supports the message of the Scriptures.” The group also does an artistic response to the Gospel each week. “The jazz service opened the Diolog

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CALENDAR & PEOPLE Calendar of Events SEPT




The Rev. Ray Bagby, has accepted the call as vicar at Christ Church, Mexia, effective October 1.

Join fantastic speakers and workshop leaders at this one-

The Rev. Rich Barrett retired as vicar of St. Martin’s, Copperas Cove. He will serve there as sacramentalist.

day conference in Austin on September 7 and Houston on

John Carr was appointed pastoral leader of St. Luke’s, Lindale.

September 21. Find out more at

Cindy Clark was appointed pastoral leader of Epiphany, Calvert.


15 OCT


The Rev. Sarah Condon was appointed a curate at St. Luke’s Health System.

INVITATION SUNDAY Join congregations across Texas and around the world as we

The Rev. Ashley Cook was appointed head of congregation at St. Paul’s, Woodville, effective October 1.

invite friends and family to church on September 15. Visit

The Rev. Debbie Daigle accepted the call as vicar of St. Paul’s, Kilgore.


Jeff Davis was appointed pastoral leader of All Saints’, Cameron.

Join Eric Law and workshop leaders at this two-day

Elizabeth Dowell was appointed the pastoral leader of St. John’s, Columbus.

conference in Austin on October 11 and Houston on October 8. Find out more at

The Rev. Bill Fowler was appointed the interim rector of Epiphany, Houston. The Rev. Desmond Goonesekera retired as rector of St. Cuthbert’s, Houston.




The Diocesan Adult Choir Festival will take place October

The Rev. Dorothy Gremillion was appointed the interim rector of St. Andrew’s, Houston.

19-20 at Christ Church Cathedral. Learn more at

The Rev. Ted Hervey retired as rector of Epiphany, Burnett. The Rev. Dean Lawrence was appointed as priest-in-charge at St. Francis, College Station.



This annual conference for all Diocesan clergy will once again


be held at Camp Allen, October 21-23. Visit

The Rev. Barbara Lewis retired as rector of St. Andrew’s, Houston. The Rev. Judith Liro retired as associate of St. George’s, Austin. The Rev. Billy Tweedie has accepted the call as vicar at Resurrection, Austin.



29 NOV


Benefitting St. James’ House, the Diocesan ministry providing

The Rev. John Wells retired as rector of Holy Spirit, Waco.

independent and assisted living for older adults. Learn more at

The Rev. John Williams retired as rector of St. Francis, College Station.


The Rev. Aaron Zimmerman accepted the call as rector of St. Alban’s, Waco.

Join other youth ministers for a relaxing retreat at Camp

Bishop Doyle Ordained 11 deacons on June 15: Tamara Clothier, Lorinda Driskill, Jeremiah Griffin, Jan Halstead, Pat Henderson, Mary Ann Huston, Mark Marmon, George McGavern III, Christine Mendoza, Beccy Smith and Cynthia Caruso.

Allen, November 6-8. This is a great time to meet new people and share ideas. Visit


To view calendar go to

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The Rev. Joe Chambers was killed in a car accident on July 12 in Trinity, Texas.

Please keep his family in your prayers.

STAY CONNECTED St. Cyprian’s Turns to Online App for Church Directory by Luke Blount Facing a tight budget and the ever looming task of putting together a church directory, Catherine Roberts, parish administrator of St. Cyprian’s, Lufkin, suggested the directory be put online. After some research, the church decided to use a service called Instant Church Directory™, which securely stores member information online and makes it available to all members via mobile application.

aren’t comfortable with the Internet or computers. Roberts estimates that the church will still need to print out hard copies of the directory or send out digital PDFs for 10-15 percent of the church families without smartphones or tablets. “But since this service is new and the developers continue to work on it, I suspect it will be available on other platforms in the near future,” she said.

The system allows churches to upload their membership information. Then, members are able to download an app and access their church directory via their mobile devices. Only members are allowed to access the directory, and they must verify their device via secure email.

The system can be updated as often as needed, which is another advantage over the print directory. If the church gains new members or if a current member moves or changes their phone number, then that information can be added at anytime. St. Cyprian’s is planning to update their directory with changes every six months with new information, as to not overwhelm Roberts and the small staff with constant updates to several databases.

“It’s pretty simple to set up,” Roberts said. “You have to upload an Excel file into their system ... I had to export our ACS into an Excel file and make some modifications, and then I uploaded it. We only have 200 families, so then I went in and edited everything and uploaded some pictures, which went very quickly, actually.” Before St. Cyprian’s settled on this solution, they looked into traditional church directory services, and discovered it would cost close to $3000, without the cost of taking photos. Instant Church Directory costs only $70 per year for the church, and the service is free for church members. Now, anyone with a smartphone, tablet or even a Kindle can access the church’s directory at anytime, from anywhere. Roberts does conceed that this is not a great solution for every member. The directory is not yet easily accessible via the Web, only through the mobile apps. And even if it were more accessible via the Web, some members still

Still, Roberts is proud of the new tool. “It has easily saved us thousands of dollars, and it will be more current for our members,” she said. “For someone that just wants a quick phone number, I think it’s great.” The system may also serve another use in the event of a disaster. If a paper directory is not available or left behind in the event of an evacuation, the entire congregation would have access to contact information in their purse or pocket. The directory app stores the information on the mobile device, so it can be accessed when your mobile device is online or offline. If cell service or Internet access is not available, the information can still be accessed as long as the device has power. “We are cutting edge out here in Lufkin,” Roberts joked. “This isn’t yet the gold standard, but it is a silver standard.”

Catherine Roberts has generously offered to speak with anyone interested in implementing the same program. St. Cyprian’s phone number is 936.639.1253. Or visit to learn more. Diolog

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Diolog: Texas Episcopalian Music  

n each article, it is the heart of a music leader that helps to set the stage for our experience of the Holy in worship, whether that’s trad...

Diolog: Texas Episcopalian Music  

n each article, it is the heart of a music leader that helps to set the stage for our experience of the Holy in worship, whether that’s trad...