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RSCM conference to focus on developing faith of the Church through music

03 March 2023


DEVELOPING the faith of the Church through music is a key element of this year’s Royal School of Church Music’s (RSCM) conference, to take place online on Saturday 18 March. The speaker is to be the C of E’s national lead for evangelism and witness, the Revd Dr Stephen Hance.

The director of the RSCM, Hugh Morris, said on Monday: “His background is in Evangelical traditions of worship, but he’s appreciative of the beating power of the choral and organ world as well.

“He’s able to see the bigger picture and think in broader terms. I’m really pleased he’s agreed to come and speak on ‘A Secret Chord: Music as mission’, recognising that if we just unlock music, there is so much it can do for the Church.”

The RSCM is inviting anyone with an interest in church music — clergy, musicians, and congregation members — to the conference, which it seeks to be open to a broader range of people.

Sessions, presented live from a specialist “Zoom room” facility in Oxford, will cover all aspects of the RSCM’s output, including getting a congregation singing, and teaching a choir new tricks. Tutors include the head of choral partnerships and development at Peterborough Cathedral, Sarah Burston; the deputy director of the RSCM, Canon Sal McDougall; the director of music for the parish of Harpenden, formerly senior lead teacher for Hertfordshire Music Service, Marie Price; a former resident musician at Iona Abbey, and a specialist in congregational singing, Jonathan Robinson; and the author of Resounding Bodies: Building Christlike Christian communities through music, Dr Andy Thomas.

Affiliated churches are all now invited to display and to share in their church a statement of aims which gives prominence to a declaration that “Music supports worship and the deepening of the Christian faith of those who attend worship. Music is offered to the best standards achievable by those delivering it, recognising that God deserves our best efforts.”

“We want to encourage people in different scenarios, especially choirs, but the key thing we want to do is support people responsible for enabling worship — encouraging them, and giving them practical tools; reminding them that you don’t have to be a highly experienced choir trainer to do that,” Mr Morris said.

“We’re trying as an organisation to help people see that to invest attention in what the music can do to improve things will make a substantive difference in the Church itself, and its community as it recovers, regrows and re-energises.”

The conference, which includes a pre-recorded lunchtime concert and closing worship, runs from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on 18 March. Booking (£40 entry fee) is via the RSCM website: rscm.org.uk/whatson/church-music-conference.

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