The first quarter of 2018 had a lot of activity packed into it. Epiphany began with a beautiful installation that included many origami stars as well as the wonderful Moravian stars that always hang in the Sanctuary. Jay Hartman added to our collection a group of stained-glass stars that he had rescued from a building renovation. They cleaned up beautifully and looked like someone had made them to hang in the sanctuary. For the first time in many years we added the celebration of Black History month to the music program in worship. We used a spiritual for the call to worship each Sunday in February. We used a Howard Thurman poem, “Listen to the Stillness”, as our theme for the Epiphany season. Susan Braden composed a lovely SATB setting of the text that the choir sang on February 11, Transfiguration Sunday. Unfortunately, I did not get to hear this anthem as I fell down steps on February 7 and broke my right wrist in three places!! This began a long period of recovery that included two surgeries and many people covering the work that I usually do. Brenda Brown substituted at the organ, Ron Simmons did a large amount of the conducting for the sanctuary choir, Susan Braden covered several of the Younger Children’s Choir rehearsals and performances, and Eric Fiske did a lot of driving and heavy lifting. Somewhere in there I also managed to do a little work! I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the work of all the people who helped —and continue to help cover my work responsibilities. My right hand is mostly working now.

Our Lenten installation included beautiful pictures of people in the congregation overlaid with the words of our Lenten theme song, “What Could You Do with Me,” by Josh Wright. This song was presented each week in Lent by a different soloist or group. We also used a shadowbox in a doorframe in which we drew a symbol that was drawn from the week’s scripture passage. This gave us six large drawings, which were used on Good Friday to remember what we had learned throughout the season. The service that evening used music and narrations written by Susan Braden that took us through the final hours of Jesus’ life as a human. Each of the drawings was torn to remind us of how shallow our understandings of Jesus’ message continue to be. The Sanctuary Choir conducted by Ron Simmons led us through the music.

The Older and Younger Children’s Choir participated actively in worship throughout the quarter by singing, reading and candle lighting. The Youth in the Worship Arts Ensemble also were active worship participants. These groups are led by Jessica Corbitt, Terry Witt, Susan Braden, Kathy McGraw, Ron Simmons, Marty Watkin and me. The children and youth are learning a great deal about worship leadership.

This was an interesting quarter for me. It was difficult to be one handed for much of the time. I cannot thank all of the people who covered work for me and made the music in this quarter amazing.

April 1st was Easter in 2018 so we started the second quarter off with a bang. Easter is always an exciting conclusion to a busy and meaningful Lent and Holy Week. Following Easter, the Sanctuary Choir began preparations for Pentecost and for summer. The Children’s Choirs also began preparations for a final performance. This year the final program was held on the last Wednesday evening in May and consisted of a concert of all types of music from Sacred to Broadway. Everyone had a great time and the music was beautiful. Many thanks are due to Jessica Corbitt, Terry Witt, Kathy McGraw and Susan
Braden for their wonderful leadership with the school-aged choirs. Helen Davidson and Larry Allen provide amazing leadership for our Preschool Choir.

Our summer music program included a month of sharing favorite hymns and their stories, both the hymn story and their stories in our lives. This was a great deal of fun and helped people to get to know one another as we sang and shared songs we love. In late June seven of us attended Animate Worship Arts Camp at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. This camp is a favorite and we love attending. Meg Lacy was one of the preachers again this year. Each of the youth learned so much about designing and participating in worship services. Later in July, twenty-eight people attended Music and
Worship Arts Camp at Eagle Eyrie. This camp is open to children over the age of 10. We sang a lot, learned about worship, played in the amazing EE pool, and figured out how to go to bed without a parent to tell us what to do. This camp experience is very valuable to both the spiritual, musical and physical development of the children. They learn a lot about independence at camp.

August always brings renewed interest in liturgical installations. This year our theme was “Stitched Together.” We displayed quilts and told their stories as we were listening, worshiping and waiting for God’s guidance in our lives. The quilts provided a wonderful visual for the use of every scrap to make something beautiful in our lives. A group of adults and youth spent a couple of afternoons at the church dyeing fabric and stiffening it with glue after it had been cut into large squares. These were hung in the sanctuary ceiling to form a “quilt” over our heads.

The music ministry moved back into regular programing in September. The Sanctuary Choir and three children’s choirs meet on Wednesday evenings and Youth Worship Arts meets on Sunday afternoon. In September the Narrative Lectionary guides the structure of church thinking. The structure for much of our study and worship follows the structure of this Lectionary. This year we are in Year 1 of the program. The worship installation that was envisioned in August came into being. Advent and Christmas music was rehearsed. The final quarter of the year is the culmination of much work while being the beginning of the Church year.

In October the Sanctuary Choir led a Vesper Service at Lakewood Manor Retirement Center. In November the Sanctuary Choir once again traveled to South Hill to participate in the anniversary concert for New Beginnings, a Gospel Trio. We are always honored to participate in this concert and it is great musical fun! In December the Sanctuary Choir and the Lisu Ladies Ensemble led the Star Lighting Ceremony and Concert at Westminster Canterbury. It was a beautiful program and we were honored to participate. In addition to providing the music for many of the 11:00 am worship services, the Sanctuary Choir also sang a concert at Bruton Parish Church on December 22 and as a part of Christmas in the Fan with Richmond Concert Band. The children and youth worship arts groups kept up a solid educational level as well as sharing in worship leadership at least once a month. People of all ages also shared in the musical leadership of our Christmas Eve service.

The Music and Worship Arts program of at Tabernacle is indebted to the multitalented music staff and many volunteers who gladly share their talents and ideas. There is always space for more voices in all areas of the music and art ministry. Come pray, think, sing and play with us as we work hard together to keep following Jesus in our lives.

Judy Fiske
Minister of Music/Worship/Organist

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