Ordinary Time 2017
This post will be continuously updated.
A Word From Dean Randy Hollerith, 17 January
I understand the strong disagreement many people have with the decisions to accept an invitation for the Cathedral choir to sing at the Inauguration and for the Cathedral to host the Inaugural Prayer Service. I am sorry those decisions have caused such turmoil and pain. Yet I stand by those decisions — not because we are celebrating the President-elect, but because we want to model for him, and the rest of the country, an approach to civility.
Understand that civility does not mean endorsing a president’s views, behavior or rhetoric, nor compromising our own Christian values. Our willingness to pray and sing with everyone today does not mean we won’t join with others in protest tomorrow. We will always strive to bridge the divide and repair the breaches in our life together. As a Cathedral, we have decided that we will approach this moment as open-handedly as possible.
Samuel Carabetta, St. John's, Georgetown Parish, Washington, D.C. (received by email 15 January, and Facebook post)
The announcement that the Cathedral Choir of Men, Boys and Girls will perform during the musical prelude to the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony is extremely unfortunate and unwise. It contributes to “normalizing” the election of the most notorious and divisive person ever to become President of the United States, a man who has trampled on the church’s teachings time and again. This is not a normal occurrence and certainly not a normal President. It lends the moral authority of the Episcopal Church to Trump and all he represents. It also reduces the Cathedral Choir to nothing more than one of the “acts” at the event in question.
There is a vast gulf between praying for our elected leaders and praising them in this way. Yes, at a time when emotions are raw, it is important to offer spiritual solace and the healing gift of transcendent beauty; however the leaders of our church have chosen the wrong person and the wrong audience. Many years ago, at another time of deep national division, the Very Rev. Francis B. Sayre established Washington National Cathedral as a spiritual home and source of inspiration for those who opposed McCarthyism, racism, poverty, and the Vietnam War. Lending aid and comfort to the Trump inauguration tramples on that legacy.
Gary Hall, former Dean of the cathedral, quoted in
Jenkins, Jack. "Washington National Cathedral under fire". Thinkprogress.org, 13 Jan 2017
“I would not have held the inaugural prayer service, nor would I have allowed the choir to sing because the positions Trump has taken are so inimical to the gospel. I know it has been our tradition to do it, but this is a really different kind of candidacy and presidency—and it’s a time, really, for the church to be the resistance to this kind of authoritarianism instead of legitimizing it by allowing it to use the symbols of Christianity.”
A full statement from Hall on 17 January: "Washington’s National Cathedral should not bestow a blessing on Donald Trump", Religion News Service
A Message from National Cathedral School, from Kathleen Jamieson, Head of School (web, accessed 18 Jan 2017)
I urged the dean and the bishop to reconsider having our children participate in this particular transition of power, given that many in our community see it as in conflict with our school values of excellence, service, courage, and conscience. This was a rare occasion in my 14 years of working collaboratively with colleagues at the Cathedral where we did not agree.
Letter to Bishop Budde, Dean Hollerith, Fr. Barnett, and Mr. McCarthy, 13 Jan 2017, John M. Russell, Christ Church of Hamilton & Wenham, Mass.
I find it puzzling at best, and reprehensible at worst, that any entity within The Episcopal Church would desire to offer such support and affirmation to this particular individual… I remind you that the President-Elect is someone who has mocked a disabled person in front of a crowd, has repeatedly spouted clear racism and bigotry, has advocated for war crimes, has invited the interference of a foreign power in our electoral process, and whose blatant misogyny is well documented. How you can possibly believe that it is appropriate to encourage children to participate in an event whose purpose is to honor and support such a person is not only disturbing but such an encouragement borders on the immoral. I wonder how a young boy in the Cathedral Choir will realize, 10 or 15 years from now, that trusted adults in his life suggested and supported the proposition that he offer his God given musical talent in support of a person whose reputation and behavior is so vulgar and despicable.
"Hold Fast To That Which Is Good", 14 Jan 2017, Nicholas White, St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H.
It’s not enough to see both sides of the argument. It’s not enough to be all things to all people. It’s time to stand up against evil and hold fast to that which is good. In other words, don’t accept invitations to do things that run counter to your core values. You cannot be a strong leader of an institution, offer mere platitudes, and simply say that you see both sides of the situation.
For Immediate Release
OTHER LITURGICAL MINISTIRES OF WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL TO HAVE SIGNIFICANT ROLES AT UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION
Mr. Oliphant C. Wigglesworth, Assistant Deputy Director of Communications, Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC
13 Jan 2017 - Just because the inauguration takes place outside the confines of Washington National Cathedral doesn't mean that the lay people who regularly serve in the liturgies of the Cathedral can't be of assistance.
In addition to the National Cathedral Choir, Washington National Cathedral is very pleased that several other lay liturgical ministries will be taking part in the upcoming presidential inauguration.
The Flower Guild has graciously agreed to provide table decorations for the presidential luncheon. We believe that tasteful floral arrangements, which speak to God's creative power, are an important part of coming together as a nation at this time in our national life.
Members of the cathedral who serve as lectors will be on hand in case anything needs to read aloud, such as the emoluments clause or the rest of the Constitution of the United States.
The Cathedral Vergers have agreed to help the inaugural committee in helping the VIPs on the dais find their way to their seats and to the podium. Based on past experience, none of the vergers expect George W. Bush to follow (LOL).
The Cathedral ushers have volunteered will stand at the back and direct people to the portable toilets.
The Cathedral Acolytes will be prepared with processional candles in case there is a total eclipse of the sun.
Editor's note: in case you are possibly still undecided about the matter, let's clear it up for you: the above is satire and does not represent any kind of official communication from the National Cathedral whatsoever.
There has been much conversation and consternation among Episcopalians since the St. Louis (hooray!) Post-Dispatch broke the story that Choirs of the National Cathedral will sing at the inauguration of Donald Trump.
I have great respect for my colleagues at the National Cathedral. And I don't envy any of them, especially not now. The National Cathedral is a tremendous place that has chosen to intersect with civic life in our nation's capital, and in so doing it has taken seriously its role to serve as a kind of spiritual locus of the nation at times of national significance.
But in light of the decision to have the Choirs sing at the inauguration, I want to reflect on something for which I believe they fail to account: the inauguration itself is a liturgy.
At its center is that sacramental holy of holies, the oath of office (administered by a secular cleric in robes!). Then follows the homiletical inaugural address, the ritualistic ascension of the past president by helicopter, the eucharistic presidential luncheon, the processional to the White House, etc.
Then there are poems (if the inauguration is for a Democrat!). And of course the whole thing is surrounded by music.
It is a tightly scripted pageant of civic liturgy we see every four years, and it is meant to evoke a certain kind of feeling.
In a marvellous essay about worship the theologian James Alison draws a distinction between civic liturgies, like presidential inaugurations, and what he perceives to be "True worship."
Using the extreme example of a Nuremberg rally to help draw the distinction between the civic ("Nuremberg") liturgy and the "True" liturgy (the "un-Nuremberg"), Alison writes:
The liturgical organisers of the Nuremberg rallies knew exactly what they were doing, and did it remarkably well. You bring people together and you unite them in worship. You provide regular, rhythmic music, and marching. You enable them to see lots of people in uniform, people who have already lost a certain individuality and become symbols. You give them songs to sing. You build them up with the reason for their togetherness, a reason based on a common racial heritage. You inflame them with tales of past woe and reminders of past confusion when they were caused to suffer by some shame being imposed upon them, the tail-end of which woe is still in their midst. You keep them waiting and the pressure building up. All this gradually serves to take people out of themselves; the normally restrained become passionate, unfriendly neighbours find themselves looking at each other anew in the light of the growing “Bruderschaft”. Then, after the build up, the Führer appears, preferably brought in by means of a helicopter or airplane which has been seen from beneath by the gradually effervescing crowd, and before long, the apotheosis takes place, and he is in their midst.
(The whole essay is worth a read, now more than ever).
Alison's point is that civic worship is about getting people excited around a particular person for a particular purpose; it is "dangerous and dehumanising." On the other hand, the True liturgy of Holy Communion is actually supposed to be "boring" because there's nothing left to achieve. God has already won the victory! We're not supposed to "get" anything from Christian worship.
So yes, as the Bishop of Washington notes, the inauguration is "an occasion for prayer and an opportunity to offer the balm of beauty." And yes, as the Dean writes, "[m]usic is a precious gift that holds the potential to point our hearts toward something larger than the things that divide us."
But when music is used in the service of Alison's "Nuremberg", the "something larger" may be rather incongruous with the mission of the church.
Update: 13 Jan 2017, 2:12 p.m. Earlier today the Washington Post published a story called "Washington National Cathedral’s decision to participate in Trump’s inauguration is creating tension".
On Facebook, Diana Butler Bass laments:
For any of you holding out hope that this would be a "truth to power" moment, please note this line from the article:
"Trump asked that there be no preaching during the interfaith service, she [the bishop] said. 'This is not the occasion that we will use to address particular issues of policy or concerns we might have about the direction he’s taking the country.'"
Maybe it is time to stop being so naive and admit that Trump is creating his own religion reality show here? And that it is being legitimized by the Episcopal Church?
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art."
Toni, Morrison. " No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear". The Nation. 23 March 2015.
A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
And now, a poem for the Twelfth Day of Christmas – one that seems especially fitting as we look toward Epiphany.
First Coming By Madeleine L’Engle He did not wait till the world was ready, till men and nations were at peace He came when the Heavens were unsteady and prisoners cried out for release. He did not wait for the perfect time. He came when the need was deep and great. He dined with sinners in all their grime, turned water into wine. He did not wait till hearts were pure. In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt. To a world like ours, of anguished shame He came, and his Light would not go out. He came to a world which did not mesh, to heal its tangles, shield its scorn. In the mystery of the Word made Flesh the Maker of the stars was born. We cannot wait till the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, for to share our grief, to touch our pain, He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
The American Guild of Organists (AGO) recently took several documents related to "Employment" off of their website.
I have been a member of the AGO since I was a young organist, and I've always appreciated belonging to a professional organization that has a salary guide that I and other members can share with prospective employers. Late last year, however, the AGO made the decision to stop making these documents available.
Since 1896 the AGO has been the largest professional organization for organists in the United States. In recent years, however, members have witnessed the elimination of the guild's official grievance procedures (in which AGO member organists were not permitted to offer professional services until the grievance was resolved). With the discontinuation of the salary guide, members now have even less professional support from the guild.
Here are the last published versions of the documents no longer offered by the AGO:
How to Use the AGO Salary Guide Documents To obtain the greatest benefit from the AGO salary guide, it is important to utilize the AGO model contract provisions and the time requirements worksheet in a three-step process: STEP 1. First, ascertain the scope of the position and the specific responsibilities of the church musician. For this step, the AGO has model contract provisions which address most areas of concern for sacred musicians and their employing institutions. A similar document is provided with sample provisions for musicians hired for part-time positions, the Sample Contract for Musicians in Part-time Employment. STEP 2. Next, calculate the necessary time required to perform the responsibilities of the position. For this, complete the time requirements worksheet. Be aware that recognizing the behind-the-scenes preparation and practice time is often the most challenging step for churches: the face-time at worship services is often viewed by congregants as something that “just happens” and the real extent of the preparation time is rarely known by anyone but the musician! STEP 3. Once the hours necessary to perform the duties of the position have been calculated, the salary guide chart can be usefully consulted for the recommended salary, based on the hours the job requires and the educational and experience levels of the employee. However, please note: one of the most important features of the salary guide chart is that the amounts on the chart are at a median level for the U.S.A. based on the cost of living for Fort Worth, Texas. (Fort Worth was used because of its average cost-of-living levels.) Consequently, adjustments to the salary numbers must be made for every other location. The relevant paragraph in the salary chart document explains: The above guide is intended to represent an average. To accommodate regional differences in the standard of living, consult the website: https://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/moving-cost-of-living-calculator.aspx?MSA=3720, using the above figures as “Moving from Fort Worth TX” (identified by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as a city with the same average professional income as the national average) and entering your own location as “Moving to.” The salary figures arrived at with this guide will always be questionable unless the entire three-step procedure outlined above is adhered to. In order to be fair to both the musician and the employer, both parties must address all parts of the equation in order to come up with a fair salary—one that takes account of the work expected, the employee’s background, and the job location. Other Fees The range of fees is for musicians with degrees in organ or church music or AGO certification. Fees vary regionally. The lowest figures reflect smaller, rural areas of the country. Fees will also vary based on training, experience, availability, responsibility, and dates required. Substitute Musicians Single service (organist only or director only, no separate rehearsal), $100-$225 Additional services (organist or director only) not requiring additional preparation, $50-$125 Single service (organist-director combination, no separate rehearsal), $150-$275 Additional services (organist-director combination) not requiring additional preparation, $75-$175 Rehearsal fees range from $25-$100/hour, depending on whether the substitute is organist only, director only, or organist-director combination and the preparation required The current, federally approved business standard mileage rate for reimbursement of business travel is charged if visits to church for practice, rehearsal, and service exceed 20 miles per round trip. The charge for contracting singers/instrumentalists is $15-$35/person hired. Weddings Service fees are $100-$350 (service only) Wedding rehearsal with bridal party is $50-$100/hour. Additional rehearsals are $30-$50/hour. The current, federally approved business standard mileage rate for reimbursement of business travel is charged if visits to church for practice, rehearsal, and service exceed 20 miles per round trip. The charge for contracting singers/instrumentalists is $15-$35/person hired. Funerals Churches which provide funeral services at no cost to the family of the deceased are also expected to compensate the performing musician, whether full- or part-time, as recommended below: Service fees are $100-$225 (service only) Rehearsals $25-$100/hour, depending on the difficulty of the music and the participation of choirs, soloists, or instrumentalists. The current, federally approved business standard mileage rate for reimbursement of business travel is charged if visits to church for practice, rehearsal, and service exceed 20 miles per round trip. The charge for contracting singers/instrumentalists is $15-$35/person hired. NOTE: Occasionally churches or synagogues will hire musicians as independent contractors instead of employees. According to the IRS, workers are generally considered employees if they: Must comply with the employers instructions about the work. Receive training from or at the direction of the employer. Provide services that are integrated into the business. Provide services that must be rendered personally. Are aided by assistants who are hired, supervised, and paid by the employer. Have a continuing working relationship with the employer. Must follow set hours of work. Work full-time for an employer. Do their work on the employers premises. Must do their work in a sequence set by the employer. Must submit regular reports to the employer. Receive payments of regular amounts at set intervals. Receive payments for business travel expenses. Rely on the employer to furnish tools and materials. Lack a major investment in the facilities or equipment used to perform the services. Cannot make a profit or suffer a loss from their services. Work for one employer at a time. Do not offer their services to the general public. Can be fired by the employer. May quit work at any time without incurring liability. According to these guidelines, the majority of church and synagogue musicians are employees.
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