At 11 a.m. on Sunday, enjoy a traditional service of Lessons and Carols led by the Choristers and Singers choirs. Readings and carols retell the story of Christ’s birth, with candlelit singing of Silent Night.
The Westminster Organ Concert Series begins its 39th season on Friday, October 12, at 7:30 pm, with an organ recital of French baroque music by organist Matthew Hall. The program includes music by Louis Couperin, François Couperin, Louis Marchand, and Nicolas de Grigny. A scholar as well as performer, Mr. Hall holds degrees from Harvard University and Leeds University in England. He is currently a doctoral student in musicology at Cornell University. The concert is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.
The Westminster Organ Concert Series was begun in 1980 to share the newly-installed all-mechanical baroque-style pipe organ with the community. The organ, built by Taylor & Boody Organbuilders of Staunton, Virginia, has 18 stops and over 1100 pipes.
This summer, from August 19 through August 31, I attended the Smarano Organ Academy in northern Italy. The Academy began this year in the Netherlands, at the Grote Kerk in Alkmaar, where Pieter van Dijk led masterclasses on that church’s two very famous — and fabulous — organs: the 1511 van Covelens organ and the 1636/1723 Schnitger organ. From there we flew to Smarano, a tiny village in the mountains of northern Italy, where courses were led in organ and harpsichord by Edoardo Bellotti, Sietze de Vries, Joel Speerstra, and Enrico Baiano. A special highlight was the visit of Montserrat Torrent, the 92-year-old (!) Spanish organist, who played a concert and taught a masterclass. Despite a very intense schedule (8 am to 10 pm every day, with short breaks for lunch and dinner), the high caliber of teaching combined with excellent instruments and a gorgeous location made the Academy a truly special experience. I am very grateful to the church for the time off and financial assistance that allowed me to attend the Academy.
With the start of another academic year, the choirs at Westminster also begin anew. We have choirs for people young and old. Please explore our different groups on the church website here and see what might work best for you or your children. Don’t hesitate to contact Megan Sharp, Director of Fine Arts with any questions you may have (434)963-4690 or email@example.com.
Choristers begin on Thursday, September 13. Come hang out and play from 3:30-4:00 pm. We begin rehearsal at 4:00 and end at 5:00.
Singers begin with a retreat on Sunday, September 9 that includes a pizza lunch, games and singing? We will meet after worship at 12:15 and finish at 2:00 pm.
Adults (including college students) meet on Thursdays from 7:00-9:00 pm.
All Choir Potluck: Come enjoy a time of fellowship on Thursday, September 13 in the choir room at 6:00 pm. Friends and family are welcome.
I grew up in a Methodist pastor’s family and joined the PCUSA in 2000. I’ve always been a member of the Body of Christ, and aligned with mainline Protestantism, but it wasn’t until after attending the 222nd GA in Portland as an alternate commissioner that I learned that I was a capital-P Presbyterian (and I learned that at a PoJ meeting). It’s almost impossible to conceive how the Holy Spirit and Robert’s Rules of Order can work together… but I have profoundly experienced just that since discerning a call to GA three years ago. Such experience has not only deepened my personal faith but has led me into greater connectional encounters, especially in the discernment and debates of behind-the-scenes church work at different levels.
I’m still not sure what all happened. The pace of GA was so breakneck that I often found myself reading the news of the previous day, about GA taking such and such an action, and thinking “We did??” There were two primary reasons for this: one, the disappearance of most of our “reading breaks,” and second, the consent agenda. Although I had visited PC-Biz many times leading up to the conference and had studied my committee’s materials in detail, I found that there was essentially no time to look at other items in advance, until they came to the floor for consideration. Likewise, eighty items were approved at a stroke on the consent agenda, including formerly controversial topics such as human sexuality and Middle East issues; some experienced this as anticlimax, others as relief, and some of us as bewilderment!
I learned much about what a caring church the PCUSA is. At innumerable points during the week, that caring was manifest in both compassion and action. Taking part in the march to the Justice Center was powerful indeed. A Young Adult Advisory Delegate came out on the floor of the Assembly, and the support was deafening. I was inspired by the many and varied contributions to the Hands & Feet Initiative. In all debates I witnessed in committee and plenary, mutual respect was the dominant expression. I made tons of new friends and shared many, many hugs.
I was on one of the largest committees, with 55 members. It was a challenge to get to know each other and figure out a working plan, getting used to speaking only when recognized, waiting for a microphone, and introducing oneself every time. We were reminded that meetings are open and many are listening, taking notes (and expressing opinions both on and off the record). Deliberate and frequent pauses for prayer and daily worship were essential. We listened to testimony during open hearings and received information from overture advocates and resource persons before deliberating on actions.
It was my committee’s duty to debate fossil fuel divestment, possibly the single most controversial item before GA, with some forty presbyteries concurring on the overture. In essence, the committee was presented with an ultimatum which we had to negotiate and send to the full body; there was no middle path available to us. The committee voted 35-20 to recommend divestment, then took action on associated overtures – actions which then had to be undone/redone after the Office of the Stated Clerk went over with us some inconsistencies in what we had voted to send forward. The full Assembly eventually adopted the minority report, forestalling any wholesale divestment.
I was impressed anew at the florid diversity of our church – the moderator candidates were themselves emblematic of this diversity. There were over twenty options for attending Sunday worship in local congregations. There was more use of non-English songs and prayers than in the past. My immediate seatmates in plenary included a gay Puertorriqueño and a young adult from (I guessed) West Africa, both representing the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. It may have been my imagination, but as the week wore on, clothing seemed to get more colorful.
I cannot begin to articulate how much I encountered God’s presence in this experience. It was Session meeting, Annual meeting, and church camp all rolled into one. I am grateful to God and to the Presbytery of the James for the chance to be a part of this Assembly.
Winston Barham, Ruling Elder, Westminster-Charlottesville