Three little words

American Guild of Organists

American Guild of Organists

Please read this letter from Karl Bachman, dean of the Hawaii Chapter American Guild of Organists:

Ordinarily the leaving of a church organist or the ending of a choir program in a congregation is a non-event for all except the members of that particular church, but we in Hawaii are now experiencing a change that is anything but ordinary.  On Sunday, October 9th, at 5:30 Evensong will be sung for the last time at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral under the direction of Canon Musician John Renke.  In addition the choir will be disbanded at the same time.

This will make a profound change in our lives far beyond the stained-glass windows of the cathedral, because  this Evensong has been a source of musical enjoyment and spiritual refreshment for the people of Hawaii for decades and decades.  Not only the members of the cathedral, but people from many other churches outside of the Episcopal tradition have attended this service on a regular basis.  Many of these people come from churches with good music programs, but there is something unique in Hawaii about the room, the atmosphere, the professionalism of the choir, the beauty of the cathedral organ and the outstanding musicianship of Canon Renke that have made this service truly a service for the people of Hawaii.

Evensong is not the only service received as a gift to the greater community.  The Blue Mass in Advent serves as special comfort for those who are separated from family and friends during the holiday season.  The blessing of the city at the New Year’s Eve service brings a centuries old tradition of “cathedral as center of the community” to our state.  In addition the cathedral has served as a performance venue for mid-week organ recitals, national and international choral ensembles, Symphony, Symphony Chorus, Chamber Music, and so many more.

But there is an even greater loss than all of this.  Saint Andrew’s Cathedral was the special legacy of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV following their historic trip all the way to England where they experienced first hand the choral tradition and rich worship heritage of the Church of England.  Upon their return to Hawaii they established the cathedral with its own bishop of Hawaii so that this tradition would always be a part of the spiritual life of Hawaii.  That the current bishop announces the end of this tradition is the announcement of a rejection of their legacy to the people of Hawaii.  Not to protest this action lends tacit support to the end of this royal legacy.

Karl D. Bachman, Dean
On behalf of the Executive Committee
Hawaii Chapter—American Guild of Organists

The letter was sent to a local television station, the local newspaper Honolulu Star Advertiser, the American Guild of Organists national headquarters, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, Episcopal Church USA, Archbishop Justin Welby, Church of England, Lambeth Palace, Canterbury, concert artists who have been our guests here in Hawaii and other family and friends with the following explanation: The attached document is to make you aware of an action that will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral on Sunday, October 9, 2016.  This action  will bring to an end the choral music program of the cathedral.  The cathedral was  founded by Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV of the Kingdom of Hawaii  following their historic visit to England where they were received by Queen Victoria and  were shown the musical excellence and spiritually enriching liturgy of the Church of  England.  Upon their return to the Kingdom of Hawaii they founded the cathedral and  secured a bishop so that this rich musical and spiritual heritage would be available to  their people.  This Sunday marks the end of that royal legacy.

Star-Advertiser, Oct. 8, 2016

Star-Advertiser, Oct. 8, 2016

It was just three little words in the title of Pat Gee’s weekly religious column in today’s Star-Advertiser, that summed up what is happening here:
A new direction

(Click the picture  to enlarge)

I hope now that Pat’s column will answer many questions which have arisen in the last week.

Thank you, Pat, for your courage in writing this article!



About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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6 Responses to Three little words

  1. john f bicknell says:

    A New Direction usually means the clergy want to fill the church and they will never look in the mirror to see if it’s something about themselves they should change.God Forbid!
    Instead they always blame other rituals and music as the source of non-attendance.
    I’m very sorry to see them dismantle something that is very vital and brilliant and change it for something that is quite common and ordinary. I hate to say it but a year from now the bishop and the cathedral trustees are going to look in the mirror and say, whoops! that didn’t work.

  2. Jennifer Lane says:

    This simply cannot happen. Thank you, Dean Bachman, for writing this public letter, and thank you Kathy Crosier for re-publishing it in your blog. Please keep people informed as to how they can help reach the Bishop of Hawaii about the error of this.

  3. Bob Alder says:

    Mahalo to Karl Bachman and the officers of the Hawaii AGO chapter for this excellent letter.

    Bob Alder

  4. Ella Edwards says:

    Having sung at the Cathedral for 25 years under the former Master organist and Choir director, John McCreary, I am amazed at the depressing news from the Cathedral concerning the resignation of John Renke. I am in total agreement with those who deplore the direction which will probably take place as a result of this misdirection.I sincerely hope that those who make these decisions will reconsider their decision and some make this right!

    Ella Edwards Former Senior Warden

  5. Beebe Freitas says:

    I am deeply grieved by the recent news of the Severe, Radical, Harsh Changes in the Music Program at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. This incredible institution has long been a Crowning Transcendent Music Force in the State of Hawaii – of great renown nationally and internationally. The loss of Master Musician John Renke sounds a Death Knell to the years of greatness built by John McCreary followed by John Renke’s tenure. How sad that the years of great Choral and Organ Traditions will be discarded so carelessly!! Surely there must be questions – somewhere. Surely there must be answers – somewhere. Surely there must be revelations of future hopes – somewhere. Surely there must be explanations to the Broader Church Communities of Hawaii – somewhere. We are all grieving …….and praying……..

    Beebe Freitas
    Head of Music: Hawaii Opera Theatre
    Organist: First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu
    Organist: Punahou School Chapel

  6. Jude Oliver says:

    John Renke will be sorely missed. Thanks Karl and Hawaii AGO officers for everything you put into this letter. I pray for something positive happening in regards to this matter soon.

    Jude Oliver

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