Where’s The Thanks?
My mother has been a church organist for most of her life. She started playing at the old Bethany Methodist Church in Grove Park in west Atlanta when she was 16. For more than 40 years, she’s been the organist at the church where I was raised, Midway United Methodist in Douglasville. She’s been a faithful member of that church. For years, we were there every time they opened the doors. She’s taught Sunday School and Bible School, sang in the choir, played on the softball team, served on and headed committees, spearheaded the fundraising to buy a sparking new Allen organ for the sanctuary, and more other things than I could mention.
She was so serious about her practice and preparation for each Sunday’s service that she bought herself the very same organ the church has so she could practice at home. And practice she did, over and over, picking the preludes, offertories and postludes that went along with the season and the liturgy.
She worried over the past few years after some health issues, that her skills were slipping, so she started practicing even more. Then last spring she fell and broke her hip. One of the first things she did when she got mobile again was find an organ teacher in Carrollton who strengthened her skills, taught her some things she didn’t know, raised her confidence and excited her again about playing.
She was so thrilled at the age of 78 to learn things that made playing easier for her! But as she continued to play each Sunday, she would confide to me that she didn’t feel like she was playing well. Between the knee replacement and hip replacement she was having a terrible time getting her feet to keep up on the pedals. She was practicing for hours and hours each week but felt like it didn’t help.
So after more than 60 years of playing church organ, she decided to retire at the end of the year. She wrote a letter to the pastor letting him know she’d be stepping down at the end of 2014.
Wouldn’t you think after serving in worship at the same church every Sunday for over 40 years, that someone would acknowledge her on her final Sunday – thank her for all the hours and hours she had put in practicing and playing?
No one said a word….
Then the pastor asked my mom if she’d be at church this Sunday, and she said yes. So I was certain that they must be cooking up some kind of farewell for her for today.
No. Not a reception. Not a word from the pulpit. Not a line in the bulletin. Nothing. Nada. There hasn’t even been an announcement made to the congregation. Despite that, no one even asked my mom why she wasn’t playing this morning.
She wasn’t really upset by this. I think she was resigned to it – not even surprised.
But I’M upset by it! How can they not even utter a “thank you” or “we’ll miss you?”
People think church musicians just show up on Sundays and sight-read something out of the hymnal and then go to Golden Corral. You stupid, ungrateful, ignorant people. It’s so, so much work. And as you see from this story, mostly thankless.
So next time you’re at church, thank your musicians, maybe slip them a Starbucks gift card or give them a hug.
And for Christ’s sake, STOP TALKING THROUGH THE PRELUDE! It isn’t Muzak. It’s part of the worship service just like the prayers and the sermon and the scripture readings. (And it wouldn’t hurt you to listen to the Postlude every once in a while too.)
Finally, I’m going to say what my mom is too nice to say. (And in her defense, what she DIDN’T teach me to say. She’ll probably be ashamed.)
But SCREW YOU Midway, you unappreciative, self-centered buttwads. You will never see anyone else like my mom. And you will probably never again be exposed to quality worship music – music that isn’t written by Chris Tomlin, Michael W. Smith and their ilk. Also, good luck finding anyone who’s going to play that organ for free. Check out AGO prices sometime and see how much organists are really “worth.”
My mom might not be hurt at how you’ve treated her, but I am broken-hearted, disappointed and angry that my home church that raised me to love Jesus and other people has treated her this way.
May the ghosts of the James Sisters, Hazel Johnston and David Dennis haunt your halls. *Insert Sophia Patrillo evil eye here*
Love you, Momma. Even if no one else knows and appreciates your work; we do! We always got your back.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤