by Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
I love and am passionate about being involved in the choir, be it to sing or direct, and I’m proud to say I’m a choir geek. And I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all, choir directors are choir geeks. I would even go as far as some choir singers are choir geeks. And, if comic geeks have Comic Con, computer gamers have Gaming Con, California Choral Directors Association have its own conference, and it happened on March 14th to 16th this year here in San Jose. It’s a convention for California choir geeks, directors and singers, where we gather and connect, share and learn new music and techniques that’ll help us and our choirs achieve the level of musicality we aspire for our purposes or ministries. Choir directors from schools, churches, and different communities from all over California gathered together for 3 days and immersed ourselves in everything that’s choir related.
We had Reading Sessions where we sang through a number of music and had a feel of how different songs go, and determine if it’s a music that we could use in our own choirs. We sang arrangements for vocal jazz groups, school and community show choirs, and advanced SATB and TTBB groups. There were also different Interest Sessions like “Teaching to Millennials and Generation Z,” “The Sound is the Vowel,” and the one I found most helpful and informative, “Between the Beats: Are You Showing What You Want?” led by Dr. Jonathan Babcock, a professor and clinician from Texas State University School of Music. In this session, Dr. Babcock discussed about different factors that go beyond the movements of the arms that help us conductors be more effective in conveying what we want our choirs to do while singing - the way we stand and move our bodies, facial expressions, even the slight movement of eyebrows and where our eyes look. These information helped me be more aware of what I do while conducting, and I actually wished the session was longer. When we were not learning, we were treated to outstanding performances by different choirs in the acoustically wonderful Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph. Groups that especially stood out for me were the College of the Canyons Chamber Singers, iSing Silicon Valley Girls Choir, and CSU Long Beach University Choir. I regrettably had to miss the performance of the award-winning Fog City Singers because of choir rehearsal, but I’ve seen one of their concerts before and they were amazing.
All in all, it was a fun and very informative first CCDA Conference for me, and I’m looking forward to next year when once again, the choir geeks unite.
By Pastor Manda
What would you do if CGS ceased to exist? I mean, if our building burned down to the ground or we lost our articles of incorporation or something drastic – if CGS no longer existed in the world as an entity, what would you do?
This is what I think about when I consider the people of Christ Community Church.
As much as we like to think of CGS as a family or a network of friends who worship together, the truth is that we are a 501(c)3 non-profit religious organization. If we were just friends getting together, we’d be at Janet’s house or Susan’s pool singing songs around the living room and eating potluck on the back deck. Our reach would be limited and we’d probably not have a website, that’s for sure.
Instead, we have a place to come together which is neutral ground, we have a whole operating structure that turns that family feeling into a public ministry. Because we have the gift of an established church, the ministry of our lives can have political influence in our city as well as in remote parts of the world – and serve more than ourselves. We have the ability to pool our resources for the benefit of those in need and to receive the tax benefits and resources available only to an organized congregation.
While Christ Community Church is a church just like us, they do not have access to these privileges and abilities. It has been their hope to one day incorporate themselves as a congregation and gain access to the responsibilities and privileges of a recognized worshipping community. They’ve chosen to explore this future with the ELCA thanks to the support and partnership of CGS over the last year and a half.
How does one become a congregation of the ELCA? You can read the history of how CGS did that on our website. But these days it’s quite different. The first step is to become a Synodically Authorized Worshipping Community (or SAWC – pronounced SOCK). This step begins a covenantal relationship between at least three parties: the ELCA, the Sierra Pacific Synod, and the congregation. It means that together, goals for growth are set, there is a mutual understanding of theology and practice, and support is given. Most notably, the support that Christ Community Church will receive is to receive a grant from the ELCA. This grant, along with their own offerings will provide a wage for Pastor Jared to work part-time as the pastor for their congregation (something he was doing between two jobs up to this point). He will be called their mission developer and he will lead the development of this new mission.
One benefit that the ELCA and the Synod saw when they were considering investing in this new mission was the partnership of CGS. Seeing the benefit of our relationship between congregations and knowing that Christ Community had support, made it possible for them to believe that this new mission might be what God is raising up in San Jose.
We are helping to plant a new worshipping community of the ELCA that does not exist here in San Jose. This is a BIG. DEAL. When we said that we were called to Proclaim God’s love to the world – did you know that it would turn out to look like this? Like planting a new congregation for people who have been marginalized in other Lutheran congregations? What a way to welcome all people. Certainly not what we had in mind when we were talking about our LGBTQ+ history!
I am immensely proud that this past month, our leadership on council voted to make CGS the fiscal agent of the new Synodically Authorized Worshipping Community that is Christ Community. By doing this we’ve committed to ushering the finances of the newly developing church until they are able to incorporate themselves and stand on their own financial feet.
I hope that as we move forward in partnership to give birth to this new mission you will join us in celebrating the opportunity Christ Community is giving us. Because they have answered God’s call to be here, we have the opportunity to fulfill our own mission to welcome them with generous hospitality. Please congratulate them on their SAWC status next time you see them.
The Beyond the Building committee has continued to meet and gather team members as we find people with the skills and time for this big project. Steve Weirauch is our chairperson and leading the team forward in their work. People who have joined the team and contribute work to the process are: Theo Olson, Skye Gordineer, Rachel Visscher, and Pastor Manda.
The team has found a wonderful architect, Susan Jones, to partner with for future planning and projects. She has extensive experience bringing new life to mid-century modern church buildings. We encourage you to look her up online and see some of her work!
While we're excited to begin with her, there is a lot of work to prepare first. We have found that our current understanding of our property is severely lacking. For an architect to be useful, we need to know the current (exact) dimensions of our spaces, the state of our electrical, structural, and mechanical systems. It is more affordable for us to contract with engineers for each of these specific tasks (as opposed to having an architect contract out for them).
As you may recall, we've set aside $20,000 in our budget for Beyond the Building this year. This line item is funded by the excess rental income we collected from Carden in 2018. Our plan is to do this necessary work first, and then, when we are ready, to assess our financial situation and how best to move forward with an architect. Knowing that our team is all volunteer, we expect that this will take quite awhile to arrange and complete. While it would be exciting to begin with an architect as soon as possible, we believe this slower and more careful approach will be better stewardship of our resources.
Meanwhile, we know that the Council will continue to lead the congregation in growing into our newly freed spaces of classrooms, parking lot, and parsonage. There is a great deal that can be done without renovating or rebuilding. We'll leave this work to them (and you) as we Proclaim, Welcome, and Serve with what we have. One way that you can help the committee is by getting involved in mission with the council and the new ministries that grow in our new spaces. Seeing where CGS is growing will give us a better picture of where we might invest in future rebuilding or remodeling. If you are someone who is interested in finding contractors, arranging meetings and walk-through's at CGS, or doing budgeting and figures for future plans, please contact Steve about serving on the committee. More hands make light work and there's plenty of work to go around!
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.