Magazine article The American Organist

From the President

Magazine article The American Organist

From the President

Article excerpt

Definitions of "hospitality" differ according to culture and organization, but generally it is considered to involve showing respect for others and treating them as equals. Judging from recent e-mails, hospitality remains a challenge for us as an organization. I have received troubling messages from members who have been ignored or insulted at chapter meetings. Among the most frequent reasons they cite is their race, their gender, their education (no "letters after their name"), or the type of instrument they play. You'd think I'd be used to these by now, but I'm not - I remain shocked to receive these reports. And if we treat other members this way, why would someone new want to join our organization?

In a culture that often seems to value less and less what we as organists and church musicians do, I simply don't understand how we can be inhospitable to our own colleagues. The world can be inhospitable enough to us as musicians - we don't need to attack each other! In a climate of declining membership in denominational and music organizations as well as the AGO, our best strategy would seem to be one of inclusion and growth, not exclusion and decline.

There is a profound, yet relatively little-known essay by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called "The World House," from his book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968). That essay begins: "Some years ago a famous novelist died. Among his papers was found a list of suggested plots for future stories, the most prominently underscored being this one: ? widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together. …

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