In Support of Volunteer Musicians
by William A. Decker, editor (May / June 2004 • Volume 20 • Number 3)
Pastor Lois D. Martin lives in a part of the U.S. — central Pennsylvania — where many congregational musicians share their talents on a volunteer basis. And she wants to see that these musicians, whether living in her part of the country or elsewhere, are supported in ways that will result in the kind of “good” music that will serve well the worship of God.
According to Pastor Martin, who wrote our cover story, “Music and Volunteers: Seeking the ‘Good’”, congregations can accomplish this goal by (1) sharing with their musicians
their gratitude for their services and (2) by finding ways to upgrade their technical skills and provide further education in the worship of the church.
Worship and music are wedded in our Lutheran understanding of Christian worship life. A quick look at Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, shows how this was so from the very start of Germany’s reforming movement.
Pulling from Luther’s own writings, Bainton showed how Luther himself commended the role music played in is own life. Here are a few examples:
A restorative gift for preaching: Music is a fair and lovely gift of God which has often wakened and moved me to the joy of preaching.”
A power against spiritual evil: “Music drives away the Devil.”
A highly honored place: “Next after theology I give to music the highest place and greatest honor.” (Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther [New York: Mentor Book/New American Library, Inc., 1950], pp. 266-67 based on Tischreden from Weimar Ausgabe, 4441, 7034, 968).
Hence, with the German Reformation came translated hymns (so all people could readily understand the sung Word of God), and new hymns, chorales, and liturgies — a creative process of melding the Word with lyrics and melodies that continues to this day in congregations throughout the world.
Through memorable melodies, the use of a variety of instruments, and choirs of all shapes and sizes and ages, the church has been given a tool that touches the hearts and minds of people with the profound truths of life and has the power to transform us. Coupled to God’s Word, music can help transmit the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in deeply meaningful ways. God can and does use music to help build faith and trust in each and every heart who hears, reads, and sings the Word.
Godspeed and Thanks
One of the many services that the magazine has been involved in is providing a braille edition to visually-impaired readers. Karen Hoppe, a braillist who worked as staff at Augsburg Fortress in Minneapolis for many years, has been the one who has provided a braille version of Lutheran Partners. She was part of the ELCA Braille and Tape Service, a ministry supported by Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA Division for Church in Society, and volunteer donations.
Karen retired from her work as braillist at the end of January. She provided many resources in braille over the years for visually impaired people. We wish to commend her for all of her work and especially for work done for ELCA rostered leaders who received Partners in this format. We also wish her God’s blessings as she enters her next stage of life.
Pastor Duane Steel, who serves a congregation in Hillsville, Virginia on a fulltime basis and is himself blind, has been a consultant to the ELCA Braille and Tape Service. He will continue to provide braille publication services, though on a limited basis because of his congregational responsibilities. This includes services to Lutheran Partners magazine.
Godspeed, Karen. Thanks, Duane.
Prayer Ventures Online
ELCA congregations often share prayer concerns of our global mission staff by printing Prayer Ventures in their church publications. The publication, which was sent to all congregations through
the ELCA Action Packet, will now be available online beginning with the September/October 2004 issue. It will no longer be sent via the Action Packet.
William A. Decker is editor of Lutheran Partners magazine, Chicago, Illinois.