Many pastors seem to agree that at the same time churches are
recognizing the growing need for organists, choir directors and
music ministers, fewer qualified musicians from within the
congregation are willing or able to dedicate themselves to the job.
Lindenwood College is responding to the need with a new
academic venture it calls the Sacred Music Institute. The program
offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in classical
sacred music, literature and performance.
Those not interested in a degree can work toward professional
certificates of advanced study. The program is open to
professionals who want to pursue a degree as well as church
volunteers who might wish to brush up on their skills or learn new
ones. Contemporary Christian music study is also offered.
In an effort to familiarize pastors with the new program,
Lindenwood played host to a sacred music symposium this week at the
college's Sibley Hall chapel. Approximately 100 people attended.
They included pastors, music ministers, choral directors and
prospective students. Lindenwood President Dennis Spellmann and
members of the fine arts faculty addressed the group, and
Lindenwood faculty members and students presented a short vocal and
In addition to Sibley Chapel, Lindenwood has at its disposal
three other concert venues. They are the Lindenwood Cultural Center
(formerly First Baptist Church on Kingshighway), the new Performing
Arts Center on the back campus and Jelkyl Auditorium in Roemer Hall.
The college boasts of a faculty with strong professional music
credentials and modern instruments, including the new Wicks organ
in Sibley Chapel; a Conn organ that came with the former Baptist
Church; an Allen organ recently bequeathed to Lindenwood by a late
alumna, Mildred Denning; and a 9-foot concert Steinway piano.
Marsha Parker, dean of performing and fine arts at Lindenwood,
pointed out that all of the above figured prominently in the
college's decision to organize the Sacred Music Institute. The most
important catalyst, according to Parker, was community interest.
"We were getting dozens of calls throughout the year from
desperate church personnel looking for individuals to play the
organ or keyboard and to help with musical and vocal direction at
their churches," Parker said.
The Sacred Music Institute was coordinated by organist and
music faculty member Ann Shields. Shields is the music director for
Covenant Presbyterian Church in St. Louis County. She explained
that the program will give an opportunity to volunteers in small
congregations to brush up on their keyboard skill.
"We want to encourage those people to take some basic organ