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(RNS) American Guild of Organists National President Eileen Guenther reveals behind-the-scenes church struggles in her new book, “Rivals or a Team?: Clergy-Musician Relationships in the Twenty-First Century.” By Adelle M. Banks.

4 Comments

  1. Pastors are not the only ones who behave badly when musician clergy relationships go south. This interview makes it sound like musicians are always the victims of tyrannical ministers, This is definitely not the case.

  2. In the past decade or so, there has been a major change in the public’s preferences in style of church music, leading to “worship wars” over traditional vs. contemporary styles. Nondenomination churches, that are prolific these days, typically have a band with guitars, electronic keyboard etc, rather than a robed chancel choir with organ as is still the norm in mainline churches. Clergy are on the “hot seat”, trying to manage the changing expectations of their congregants, particularly the youth, while maintaining a sense of tradition and denominational identiy which older members desire. Some organists understand this challenge facing the church and are flexible and creative, others are more traditional and resistant to change.

  3. Eileen Guenther

    I enthusiastically support the concept that pastors aren’t the ones who are always at fault – and devote a lot of time in the book to the musicians’ role in the relationship (including an entire section on Confessions of a Musician). The playing field, however, is not even, and when there are difficult issues, the clergy basically always “win.” Let me add that the “musician” may be the leader of a praise band as well as the director of a robed choir. The point is the teamwork necessary to achieve worship that speaks to the hearts of people in the pews.

  4. rebecca l. tabelisma

    clergypersons and church musicians are not rivals. they should be partners in worship.
    i am a christian education director of the UMC, married to a clergy.
    i seem to feel that we are collaborators in preparing a liturgy.