UCC Musicians Association Conference

The United Church of Christ Musicians Association, Inc. is a non-profit national organization with a membership made up of musicians, clergy and interested laity. It began as the dream of a small group of musicians in Connecticut who felt a strong need for professional support from colleagues in the denomination. In 1993, this group banded together and launched UCCMA as an independent organization; it was incorporated in 1994. As it has grown both in membership and mission the focus broadened to include individuals from many different denominations and with many different roles (formal and informal) in their churches’ music and worship.

UCCMA is a grassroots, member-supported association run entirely by volunteers and organized for educational and religious purposes. It offers professional development and support, educational programs, networking, resources, publications and conferences. It receives no financial support from the national offices of the UCC.

Beginning in 1998, UCCMA has offered summer conferences in even-numbered years. In the ensuing years, these have grown in both length and in the number of workshops offered.  I have attended several of these conferences in places such as Amherst, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Vermont. I used materials I got from the Burlington conference, as well as from other sources, when I moderated a workshop/discussion dealing with music copyright issues at the 2013 Wisconsin Conference annual meeting. At the 2012 UCCMA conference, it was decided to switch the conference from even-numbered to odd-numbered years, in order to avoid conflicts with the American Guild of Organists national conferences.

I recently attended the 2015 UCCMA conference held at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, July 12 through July 16. Workshops included working with the mature voice, planning milestone celebrations, copyright/internet solutions, enlivening congregational singing, choir tours, the Alexander Technique, among many others. There were additional sessions on piano, handbell, choral, and organ literature. As well as being a participant I was also asked to help present new organ music for this last session.

Monday and Tuesday mornings were opened with plenary sessions at which the Rev. John Thomas, former General Minister and President of the UCC from 1999 through 2009 spoke on the importance of music within the UCC heritage. His sessions were entitled “Building Church Community: Our Song as Call and Celebration” and “Building Human Community: Our Song as Imagination and Resistance.”

In addition to being a conference attendee this year, I also accepted a nomination and was elected to serve a two-year term on the Board of Directors of UCCMA. As a board member, I will be meeting monthly via conference call for our board’s meetings. The largest part of our agenda is helping the local committee set up the next national conference, to be held in Boston in July, 2017. We are looking into creating a series of short, one-day conferences around the country to reach even more of our UCC member churches’ musicians. We will also be looking into ways to create bonds between our organization and the national offices of the United Church of Christ.

~ Don DeBruin

Posted on July 21, 2015 at 10:52 am in Featured Content.

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