EVER SINCE THE VOICES OF OUR EARLIEST ANCESTORS CALLED OUT to the Great Mystery, sacred music has been woven into the tapestry of the human experience. Combining sounds to communicate our deepest musings and accompany our search for meaning and communion have long been integral to our spiritual practice, and a great host of instruments found themselves companion to the human voice. Trumpets, lyres, harps, drums, horns, and cymbals among others added their own voices to sacred sound.
From the 3rd century B.C.E. through the present day, the pipe organ has been a part of the Christian tradition and many congregations employ “The King of Instruments” in their musical encounter with the divine. Just over 10 years ago, Union Avenue acquired its Rogers Masterpiece digital organ and has been blessed with its ability to undergird our sense of the sacred through music. From hymns to responsories, from anthems to voluntaries, from the prelude to the postlude, our organ has been an integral part of Union Avenue worship. During September, our organ was silent while some of its components were not functioning correctly. Thankfully, we have been able to repair it, and our worship just this past World Communion Sunday featured its familiar voice leading and guiding us.
While the repair expense has been much less than originally thought, repairs are not free. We set aside a portion of our budget for the upkeep of our organ because its musical presence is a gift to our worship of which we are stewards. Of course, the organ is not the only musical treasure that our budget supports. Our sanctuary is the concert home of the Missouri Women’s Chorus (whose December 2 concert you don’t want to miss, by the way!), the Gateway Men’s Chorus, and of course Union Avenue Opera for the past 24 years. In addition to music, both Central Studio and Praise Break Studio use our sanctuary in the artistic expression of dance. The Artist Presentation Society appreciates the lush acoustics of the space for its recitals, and this past February Debbie Stinson and friends filled the space with stories and songs celebrating the community of trans, gender queer, androgynous, intersex, and allies in the metro area with a benefit concert, NO DAY BUT TODAY. And beyond our sanctuary, the Gretchen Brigham Gallery brings countless exhibitions of a wide spectrum of artists and mediums.
The arts’ ability to connect humanity with truth, goodness, and beauty in the midst of our human condition is nothing less than divine. Research suggests that people, especially young people, are looking for a church experience that transcends the whims of pop culture. They want a community that calls them to deeper meaning, challenging them with symbols, design elements, and music that evoke a sense of the sacred and tell the story of God’s actions in the world. More than just music on Sunday morning, your support of Union Avenue enables our ministry of arts to bring the local and larger Saint Louis community into an encounter with the human condition as only art can do. Thank you for your faithful stewardship and continued generosity toward the budget of Union Avenue — not only for our organ, and not only for the arts, but for all the ways our ministries reach out into our hearts and into the very life of the communities we encounter.
In the week ahead you will receive a SECOND MAILING FROM OUR STEWARDSHIP TEAM with more information about supporting the ministries of Union Avenue Christian Church in the year ahead. This year-end planning, budgeting, and underwriting is essential to our ongoing ministries to serve our community both locally and globally. Please prayerfully consider how you will support the ministries of Union Avenue Christian Church with your time, talent, and financial resources and plan to join us Sunday, November 4, for Commitment Sunday and All Saints Sunday.