We are now flying to Chicago, on our way to Valparaiso, IN where we will attend the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians Biennial Conference. Carl and I have been members of this organization since 1987 when they held their first national conference in Seattle. We were privileged to be presenters at that conference, where we spoke about composing your own music when you couldn’t find what you wanted on a particular text. If you can believe it, we lugged along two cases of handbells to demonstrate music for voices and bells. That was so many years ago that I don’t remember if we had to pay excess baggage!
Since then, we have attended many national and regional conferences of this organization in places like Rochester, NY; Denver, CO; Richmond, VA; Houston, TX; Valparaiso, IN; New York City, NY; Minneapolis, MN; Milwaukee, WI; San Francisco, CA and even Las Vegas, NV! And in 2002, the Lutheran Church of Honolulu hosted a conference for Region 4, which includes the western U.S. and western Canada.
I have found these conferences to be most stimulating and enlightening, maybe even more so than American Guild of Organists (AGO) conventions. First of all, everyone deals with the same lectionary and hymnals. We share common problems, joys and challenges. We can commiserate together about church politics. Most importantly, though, we have learned much from and shared resources with our Lutheran colleagues across the nation.
We will of course see a lot of organists and choirmasters at these conferences, but ALCM also has many members who are pastors. The typical ALCM conference always has keynote speakers, workshops, worship services, a hymn festival, an organ recital, a choral concert, a banquet, displays by music vendors, and lots of opportunities for fun and fellowship. It is a week of getting up early and staying up late.
This year’s theme is “God is Here: Worship in a Wireless World.”
Here’s the description of the conference:
What is the future of worship when increasing numbers struggle with organized religion, seek individual spiritual practices apart from community, and spend hours in front of screens? Recent studies show that more and more people identify as none when asked to name their religious affiliation. Yet we who gather in worship each Sunday proclaim that God is present in word, water, bread, wine, and most particularly, in the gathered community. How will our worshipping assemblies be renewed and revitalized in an age of change and doubt? What are some of the challenges and opportunities before us in light of graying congregations, and young adults finding community and identity through Facebook, Twitter, and countless online sites? In considering these questions, and sharing in open and honest conversation, we hope this conference will deepen commitment to the future of worship in real time and sacred space.
A thought just occurred to me. This will be my second week of wearing a badge around my neck!