So the latest drama out of our church, and another sign that times are still bad for our faith community – our music minister has resigned, after less than 15 months on the job…
I don’t blame her one bit for leaving, and in all actuality understand and support her reasons for doing so. J23 has to be a tough place to work. It’s disappointing when volunteers aren’t adhering to your requests and completely ignoring any policy that you’ve set. It sucks because the previous music minister had this "laissez-faire" approach and really wasn’t all to invested with the music groups, so these groups have spent years doing pretty much anything they’ve wanted. The leadership at the church has been pretty hands-off as well, which hasn’t helped the situation.
On top of all that the leadership amongst the staff has become weak. This starts with the Pastor drastically cutting the music ministry’s budget, without even having the courtesy to inform the music minister. Then with members of staff failing to acknowledge the music minister’s presence doesn’t bode well for that staff member’s perceived value. Whether this was done intentionally is not an issue – the damage that has resulted is still the same.
The music minister’s departure is especially concerning for both the staff, the music ministry and ultimately our faith community at John XXIII. Her hire 15 months ago was part of a massive turn-over we had, with 4 (of the 9) staff members leaving within weeks of each other. In my opinion, her hiring was the only staff upgrade we made between the old staff and new staff (with the other staff members leaving big shoes to fill). I’m really anxious to see if we’ll be able to find someone who has a skill set remotely comparable to our departing music minister. Quality, talented people will not come in to work for weak leadership.
With that comes my greatest fear and likely prediction: that they’re not going to replace the music minister. The pastor is going to make the same statement he made about the former "Director of Campus Ministry" position we had: That the money isn’t available, the search process would likely be difficult and there will have to be a period of time that will need to pass before we can hire someone. Better yet, in order to make the books look better, we won’t hire someone until the end of our church’s fiscal year (June 2006), and the choirs will just have to manage on their own for a while. Then when the summer roles around, the leadership will claim that we really don’t need a music minister, and there’s no need to hire one.
Mark my words: something like that will happen. The result with the music ministry will be catastrophic. The musicians are all hard-working, thinly-stretched and under-appreciated, and have this desire to be recognized for the contributions that they make. They need to feel relevant, and the church needs to support them by providing a competent, organized staff member that can coordinate their efforts and serve their needs. If a music minister is not hired before the spring, you will see 1-2 more choirs disband by the summer. This will be a grave situation for our faith community, being that our strong music ministry has always been a staple of our liturgical experience (and for many, one of the few reasons to go to J23 rather than another Catholic church in Fort Collins).
I just hope I’m wrong…