Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Always Thought It Was the Message That Counts

Recently, the Kansas City Star did a report on how churches here in America are having trouble finding organists- and how this country's universities and colleges are experiencing difficulty in attracting students to pick up the King of Instruments. The article also talked about how the University of Kansas (boasting of a multimillion-dollar pipe organ) has one of the strongest organ programs in the United States today.

24 students strong.

Well, the Omaha World-Herald picked up this article and, after having staff writer Kevin Coffey do a local interview to add an Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue slant, put it on the front page of the paper's Living section on 2-23-2013. (One of the points the local edition made was that Nebraska's colleges and universities are bucking the trend the Kaycee original lamented.)

In both versions of the article (you can still catch it at; type in "Pipes aren't calling many"), you'll find some quotes from University of Kansas organ professor James Higdon.

Higdon bemoaned the trend toward praise bands in many of America's churches, not only labeling the groups "pick-up garage bands" whose members know just six chords...but also saying that the praise bands aren't going to last.

You could see where the professor's coming from; after all, he teaches at a major university with one of the nation's best organ curricula. Higdon's got to look out for his back end and that of his school. (And why throw a few thousand years' worth of compositions out the window?)

I don't want to throw all those compositions out the window, either.

What's more, I'm in a praise band, too...and I love it. 

The church I'm in launched its contemporary worship service in September of 2007, and it meets at the church's Fellowship Hall each Sunday at 9:35 AM. (For a while, the service was held at our church's sanctuary...but moved back downstairs in 2011.)

Long before that, I was a substitute organist at the very first United Methodist church I joined...when I was still living in Sioux City, IA. (This was from 1994 to 1997. At that time, that church's lead organist was the wife of the church's pastor. And unless I hear otherwise, they're still married!)

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is this: Whether it's traditional worship music, contemporary praise music, or a mix of the two, it makes me no difference.

I'm more concerned about the message in each church service. That's what I'm trying to dig.  

The basic message doesn't change whether you're using a six-manual pipe organ or a Fender Stratocaster. (At least, that's what I find.)

And as far as I'm concerned, the underlying message is: "God loves each and every one of us...and He wants the very best for us. (And if we could just work to get along with each other.)"

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