Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The new Church Music
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The new Church Music

Ross Boissoneau - March 3rd, 2014  

Church praise bands hardly seem to be the most controversial topic in a world grappling with global warming and gay rights.

But for centuries, parishioners have fought for – and against – everything from an innocent 18th century organ to the ‘70sera “demon drums.” Even today, churches still struggle to find a musical sweet spot for parishioners seeking new ways to worship … or the comforting traditions they grew up with.

Traditional or Contemporary

Some churches try to play it both ways. At Gaylord E-Free Church, Worship Arts Director Joshua Rupp says they try to accommodate worshipers who favor contemporary music as well as those who find traditional hymns more fulfilling.

To do this, the church has two separate services that meld into one.

Rupp leads a praise band that includes guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, occasionally accompanied by the flute, trombone or dulcimer. At the same time in another part of the church, a more traditional service takes place with piano and hymns.

The two come together midway through the service, so all those attending can hear the pastor’s message.

“Our motto is ‘Meeting and moving,’” Rupp said. “We want to meet people where they are at, and move them to where God is.”

Tim Miller, Rupp’s friend and counterpart at Walloon Lake Community Church, said his church thought such an arrangement could work there, and they tried it this past fall through January. They had hoped it might serve to bring in people who weren’t currently attending church.

Miller says his church is now deciding on whether to institute such an arrangement on a permanent basis.

“We didn’t bring in those we targeted; but for others, it’s the voice of their heart,” he said.

Walloon Lake Community Church has a fairly typical band: piano, keyboards, bass, drums, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and several vocalists. Every three weeks they also enlist a small choir.

Prior to Walloon, Miller worked at a church at the University of Illinois campus.

“We had a full orchestra, a choir, a giant organ, we had bands,” he said. “Nothing was off the table musically.”

New Hope

At New Hope Community Church in Traverse City, Worship Pastor Rick Stewart oversees bands ranging from a group incorporating bass, guitar, keyboards and drums, to one with brass and woodwinds, even strings.

“Our normal praise band is a rhythm section and vocalists,” Stewart said. “Once a month we have a choir and a pop orchestra.”

The orchestra includes flute, clarinet, oboe, alto and tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, tuba and violin and cello.

In addition to the Traverse City location, New Hope also has a church in Bellaire. There the praise band is not nearly so large, but the service and the music are virtually the same. And the music they play? “Most of our music is modern,” says Stewart.

Whatever the instrumentation or music, Stewart says the goal remains the same.

“We sing songs to God and about God,” he said.

Still the Organ

Not that every church has gone the praise band route. Peter Bergin, the music director at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church in Empire, says the Catholic Mass ties directly into a more traditional style of worship.

“It’s a little easier in that it provides a guide to every celebration,” he said.

While he typically bases the worship music around his organ or piano with a cantor, he occasionally includes other instruments. Bergin says the decision about what to select and how to best present it starts with prayer.

“It’s about the readings, how relevant it [the music] is to the scriptural theme,” he said is decisions also are based on what’s available.

“Sometimes it’s pragmatic – I have a flute, I don’t have a flute,” he said.

Bergin says he does find ways to incorporate more modern sounds into the Mass.

“There are times in the service for a solo or duet,” he said. “That might not be as traditional.”

He also plays for occasions such as weddings and funerals at other churches where he works with their style of music.

“At another church I follow their tradition, what they’re most comfortable with,” Bergin said.

Mulitmedia Preaching

Depending on the church, its service may include technology such as video or PowerPoint presentations in addition to the music. Stewart says whatever the means, the message remains the same.

“We’re here to give praise to God,” he said.

The age of the worshipers also may impact the perspective and selections. Rupp says younger members of a congregation grew up with a more syncopated style of music that they find very natural, while older people are most comfortable with the hymns based on the downbeat.

Bergin puts it more succinctly. “The millennials look at music composed in the 1970s as traditional,” he said with a laugh. “Older people think of music from the 70s as contemporary.”

 
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