The rebirth of polyphonic musical resources – Baptist News Global


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A Polyphony Music Resources revived and reconstituted is working to usher in a renaissance for church musicians and their ministries battered and isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization’s executive director said.

The need only increased when returning to worship in person, which also presented challenges for those called to ministry through music, according to Doug Haney.

“When we finally started to emerge from the pandemic, not everyone came back as before. Some of our voices are not what they once were. We all need to find a way to rebuild the ministries of music and worship together, ”said Haney, who is associate pastor and music minister at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas and now also conductor of Polyphony.

Polyphony, like the church, had to reinvent itself along the way, he said.

Doug haney

An ecumenical and multigenerational community of ministers of music which includes a large number of Baptists, Polyphony was started in 2008 at a conference held at the First Baptist Church in Asheville, NC For a time the organization was based at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where its most recent conference was held in early 2020.

But lectures and other gatherings were held irregularly between the years and attendance waned as members were often pulled in other directions, Haney said.

However, the spread of COVID-19 has helped revive the organization and spark interest in it, he added. “The real spark of Polyphony was the start of the pandemic and the feeling that church musicians are stronger when we are in community and support each other. “

And they needed a lot of support, especially when churches started to stop holding in-person gatherings, he reported. “We were told that singing is dangerous and that choirs and congregational singing is something we cannot do.”

Haney and Polyphony board member Kyle Damron, associate pastor for music and worship at Kirkwood Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, responded by launching bi-weekly Zoom meetings to connect church musicians isolated.

“We quickly understood that there was a need for support, encouragement and sharing of ideas among the members,” Haney said. “And a lot of us were struggling to adjust to technology and virtual choirs. Some had live streaming and could rotate, while others did not have this platform. Zoom rallies have helped with this stuff.

The choir choir at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Katy, Texas, sings during morning worship at the 2008 United Methodist Church General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. (UMNS Photo by Mike DuBose)

The meetings also performed a pastoral function for participants by giving them access to “the like-other,” a term coined by University of Notre Dame wellness specialist Matt Bloom to describe the fellowship that helps ministers flourish, a he declared.

“It’s part of the power of Zoom Calls, which creates a space where ‘other like-minded people’ can come together to find incredible encouragement knowing that we are not alone in doing this good work.”

This is why virtual gatherings will continue regardless of future levels of coronavirus infection, he added. “We need community. I know it can be a cliché. But we need a community, a safe space with people who see the world like us and who love to do what we do.

Polyphony, which achieved nonprofit status in November, is also moving forward with fellowship and research initiatives to strengthen its community of religious musicians.

The organization has scheduled its next annual conference, “Rebuilding Together,” February 3-5 at Smoke Rise Baptist Church near Atlanta. “We are all trying to find out what life is like beyond the pandemic,” Haney said. “And we believe the arts and crafts of church music are best nurtured in the community.”

“We believe that the arts and crafts of church music are best nurtured in the community.”

The theme of reconstruction reflects both Polyphony’s journey and that of its members, he explained. “Did all of our church attendance come back to where it was?” Have all our choirs come back? No. So we all have a lot of work to do and we’re not out of it yet – and we’re still dealing with the Omicron variant.

Presenters at this conference will include Emily Floyd, director of music at the Presbyterian Church in Shallowford and conductor / musical director of the Choral Guild of Atlanta; Timothy Peoples, senior minister at Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina; Tim Sharp, who recently retired as executive director of the American Choral Directors Association and who continues to serve as minister of music at Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn .; Karen Sorrells, conductor, clinician and children’s choir program writer who previously served as associate minister of music for 20 years at First Baptist Church in Asheville, North Carolina; and Clark Sorrells, who is retiring this month as music minister at the First Baptist Church of Asheville.

Polyphony plans to commission a study in 2022 to interview 100 music ministers to assess what they need to thrive in their ministries. The organization will use this information to shape its future programming, Haney said.

“Polyphony is not about hierarchy or top-down or even mentor-mentee. It’s about exchanging ideas, talking about what works and what doesn’t, and learning from each other.

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