UCC Musicians Association (continued)
A great gift for your musician - one that will keep on giving throughout the year - is a membership in the United Church of Christ Musicians Association.
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UCCMA is an organization started by UCC musicians and organized for the purpose of mutual support and encouragement in the ministry of music. Members receive our e-mail newsletter every other month, containing the latest information concerning UCCMA, and our journal Worship, Music and Ministry, containing professional and practical articles on church music ministry, three times each year. Please visit our website at www.uccma.org. for more information.
In addition to the above, we also offer local workshops and a four-day, biennial conference featuring outstanding leaders, creative worship, numerous workshops and music reading sessions. Our next conference will be held in Seattle, WA, July 14-18, 2013. We hope you will encourage and help your musician to attend this fine event. Being an UCCMA member will ensure your musician receives all the information about these workshops and conferences.
We also hope you will plan to attend, as the theme of the conference will be Worship and Music on the Edge, with emphasis on enlivening worship with creative arts. Our keynote presenter is Dr. Marcia McFee, author of The Worship Workshop and creator of The Worship Design Studio.
The dues for a one-year membership (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014) is $50, but, as a special Christmas offer, we will add six months to the membership (from January 2013 to June 30, 2013). A two-year membership costs $90.00, a savings of $10.00. We look forward to being able to include your musician in our membership. This offer extends through January 7, 2013.
Please use the membership form below. Feel free to e-mail or phone me with any questions. I would be happy to speak with you!
Click Here for Membership Form
Cynthia M. Kahler, Director of Membership
firstname.lastname@example.org | 717-392-5718 ext. 116
Conference Connection: Hillcrest (continued)
We began living our own questions last October when our boiler died in the middle of a cold snap. While awaiting the installation of a new one, we worshiped two Sundays in the warmth of a nearby Episcopal Church. While there, some began wondering if that like-minded congregation and ours weren’t being called to consider sharing a building (theirs, probably) and finding creative, faithful ways to serve our community together while maintaining our own identities.
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Since then, Hillcrest has held a series of small group gatherings and has been living more questions. How can we grow? Who are we called to serve? How is our building a blessing and how it is not? Would our UCC identity be strengthened or diminished by partnering with the Episcopalians? How can Hillcrest respond to the changes Christianity is currently undergoing? Where is God in all of this?
A few months back, Hillcrest received an official invitation from the Episcopalians to consider sharing their building and deepening an already lovely relationship. (For several years, we have enjoyed jointly-held book groups and have taken part in Lenten activities together.) Soon after that, the Black Canyon Boys and Girls Club (which rents program space from Hillcrest) approached the church asking if we would be interested in selling them our building and land. These inquiries have shifted our questions from the theoretical to the really real. For some, considering our options is an exciting undertaking; for others ,it’s understandably concerning.
While we live with our questions, Hillcrest is doing two wonderfully wise things. First, we’ve handed over to a highly-qualified team the responsibility of investigating the finer points of our two invitations, as well as other solution-based ideas suggested by the congregation. When this group’s unbiased research is done, they’ll present their findings to the congregation so that we might make informed decisions.
Second, Hillcrest has formed a “Circle of Prayer” whose ministry is fairly evident; members of this group gather each week for an hour to lift up the church as a whole as we discern and respond to God’s leading.
Just a couple weeks ago, we viewed the last segment in our Living the Questions series--Embracing Mystery. The topic couldn’t have been more timely. Speakers in this segment reminded us that while it is human nature to want to pin things down, our calling as Christians is to learn to live with a confident, robust uncertainty. When it comes to faith claims, this is so important. But it’s no less true when we journey toward the future God holds out to us.
Where will Hillcrest be next year? In ten? Who knows! One thing’s certain, though—the God who called us into being over 125 years ago will be with us.
Note: Conference personnel has been involved with the Hillcrest congregation as they seek to discern the path of faithful ministry.
Congregations as Centers of Meaning-Making
To me this is an exciting trend. As progressive communities of faith, meaning- making should come naturally to us. Recently, I was asked what meaning-making entailed. Here is what I think:
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Let’s say you’re an adult of the sixties and a huge fan of the Beatles. You even get to see them in concert; an event which ranks as one of the highest moments of your life not only for the music, but also for everything the Beatles are, and represent. The Beatles break up and the best you can offer your children is the Beatles Experience. A band that copied not only Beatles music, but also their mannerisms, haircuts, accents, and so on. But you know they lack the je ne sais qua of the real group. By the time your grandchildren arrive, all that is available is a cover band playing Beatles’ songs, yet having nothing else in common with the original. Now, the great grandchildren are on hand and it’s the symphony’s Beatles night. There are no guitars to be found, little less anything resembling the iconic rock band from Liverpool. This simulation of a simulation for which the original is forgotten is called a “simulacrum.”
It has been suggested that our society’s religious imagination is lost in the never-ending simulacra of god-images in which the authentic God is no longer represented, and therefore, no longer present. “‘This mad pursuit of images’ has led to the point where images no longer represent anything other than other images or previously stated ideas… We no longer have contact with the simulation’s original meaning” (Richard Lindsay, God, Sex, and Popular Culture, in Queering Religion, vol. 2).
Lindsay gives us a more contemporary example: In our culture the singer Madonna is probably the most public simulacrum. Her career has largely been wrought with the mixing of sexual and religious symbolism. Taking the stage name “Madonna” put us on notice that “the Mother” was amongst us. She proved, however, only to be a simulation and not the real thing. Madonna could only be “Like a Virgin,” she could only offer up something “Like a Prayer,” and in the end could give an “Immaculate Collection” (a greatest hits album), but no real birth. In spite of all Madonna’s energy, talent, and passion there was no real presence supporting the symbols. They could not lift the veil between the Sacred and the mundane. They were unable to show us a path into the future. They did not speak to our point of deepest need, walk with us on our journey, or build a bridge to connect us to God. An authentic “Mother” never arrived and the presence these symbols promised never materialized – at least in public.
Lady Gaga enters the scene with the same mixing of sexual and religious symbolism, by her own confession an intentional mirroring of Madonna. Yet, as Lady Gaga handles the symbols she also makes meaning out of them, and in making meaning invokes the presence the symbols point to. In the hit song Born This Way, Gaga shares her journey of integrating her bi-sexuality with the image of God as creator. She begins with the familiar Madonna playbook of affront, “It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M.” Gaga then leads us through the reflections of her own mother – her initial “group” for meaning-making. “There’s nothing wrong with who you are” she quotes her mother, “‘cause He made you perfectly.” With this image of the creator God, who makes those on the margins perfect, Gaga is able to declare, “I’m beautiful in my way, ‘cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.”
Both performers play with the same taboo combination of sensual and religious imagery. But, where Madonna’s symbols were empty of any real presence and could only be used to scandalize, Gaga used her mother’s reflection on God’s creativity to add meaning to God as the designer of diversity. In this act of meaning-making the symbols reveal God, open up a path forward, bring healing, join us on our journey, and connect us to the heart of the Sacred.
I do not wish to imply that what will feed the rising spiritual hunger is a good plate of progressive theology, or for that matter, traditional theology for both remain stuck in their own simulacrum loops. As centers of meaning-making, congregation’s should be about inviting people to share reflections on their living and to comprehend in their living the actual presence of God as Lady Gaga did – which by the way is what the bible calls “incarnation.”
I fully admit that this is risky and messy. The theological reflections will not be systematic, or biblically based, or give heed to tradition. If anything such reflections will offend our sensitivities. However, there is a chance that these reflections and their conclusions will be organic and authentic inviting into our lives the very presence of what has become – due to the simulacrum loop – an elusive God.
Young Women's Leadership Experiences (Continued)
This project is an opportunity for women aged 18 to 30 to get involved in the ecumenical movement through women’s issues. We are writing to request your help in identifying strong applicants. We currently are accepting applicants for our Young Women’s Leadership Experiences, to be held March 1 to 6, 2013 at the United Nations as delegates to the Commission on the
Status of Women (CSW). This five-day experience will provide orientation on the 57th
CSW theme: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
As visitors to the UN-CSW, participants will get a taste of the UN events and participate in
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The application deadline is January 7, 2013, so please take a moment now to decide who
you should encourage to apply and send them the information TODAY. Five (5) applicants
will be accepted and notified by January 11, 2013. Selected participants will be responsible
for their travel cost, $100 registration, and five meals. We will cover housing, additional
meals, and events. We hope you and your member communion or CWU Unit will consider
financially supporting a young woman in this leadership experience. Encouragement of new
leaders comes in many forms – verbal invitations, financial support, prayers, and
mentorship. Please reach out today.
For an application form, facts sheet, and tentative schedule, please don’t hesitate to
contact Ann Tiemeyer and Djamillah Samad at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org