Originally published: 9.2011 in the Madison Weekly News
Situated on historic Church Street in downtown Madison, Madison United Methodist Church is a small church with big talent. Musicians, singers, and ringers of all ages have created a thriving musical program that is an integral part of worship at MUMC.
“Music in worship is both a medium of expression and a means of grace. By music we give expression to the highest feelings of praise to God for all the blessings we enjoy. God also uses music to communicate with the soul and spirit of His people. Through the traditional melodies and words of hymns, the rhythmic beat of contemporary instrumentation, or the booming electronic music that you can feel thumping your chest, God's Spirit moves people from mere observation, to true participation in the drama of worship,” said Pastor Larry Wright, Senior Pastor at MUMC.
“Madison UMC is very blessed with a variety of musical groups who present music for the worship services; as well as an orchestra, which plays several times a year for special worship events and concerts,” said Katherine Imsand, Music and Program Director for MUMC.
MUMC offers choirs for all ages. The Chancel Choir, led by Imsand and accompanied by pianist Kirk Durbin, includes youth through senior adults and is an SSAATTBB choir. In addition to the main choir, the “Church Street Boys” is an all-men ensemble that performs regularly.
For children, MUMC Music offers a Lil Notes Choir for age 4 thru first grade, and a Joyful Noise Choir for grades 2 thru 6. Youth can also participate in the Youth Praise Team, which features a combination of instruments and vocalists.
“Katherine's contribution is huge and provides leadership for the total range of music offerings at all age levels. Her expert training and background in music education and choral arts is something we highly value and benefit from. Not only that, but her faith and spiritual maturity provide a sound footing for growth to all participants not only in understanding and appreciation of the music aspects, but of the importance of Christian living and discipleship. We are blessed by God to have her on our staff,” Pastor Wright said.
The Music Ministry is also launching a new music program for the children of MUMC. “Kids Praise! is something that is new for this year, encompassing the combination of our two children’s choirs. We have joined both groups together for an opening of singing, praise and prayer time. We then split out to the two groups for individual choir time and come back together for snacks and other projects such as crafts, games or drum circle. We have a Bible verse and a weekly theme. Additionally, we also teach music basics to our kids. This is a weekly music camp concept with a touch of children’s choir and fellowship too,” said Imsand.
The MUMC Orchestra is conducted by Sandy Weisner. It is open to anyone in the community, whether it is someone who has not played for a while or a student looking for additional exposure and an extracurricular activity. The only requirements are two years experience and an instrument, excluding percussionists, whose instruments are provided by the church.
“The best part of conducting the orchestra for me personally, other than fulfilling a dream, is that this is the perfect way to worship God and honor Him. One of the best parts is watching the interaction with the kids and the adults. We have Jr. High and High School students as well as adults ranging in age from early 20s on up. I am honored that I get to work with so many fine musicians and even more wonderful people,” said Weisner.
MUMC Music Ministry also showcases a variety of bell choirs. The Chancel Bells, led by Allison Edgecomb, consists ages from teens to adults. Children bell choirs include the Young Ringers for grades 3 to 6, and the Rockin’ Ringers for grades 7 to 11.
The Chancel Bells recently performed a moving tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The piece was introduced by Chancel Choir member Col. Jeff Mockensturm, who was stationed at the Pentagon on 9/11 and survived the attack.
The music department has several exciting events coming up. MUMC will be holding its Thanksgiving Celebration Service on November 20, at 10am, with the Chancel Bells and the Chancel Choir performing. On Sunday, December 18, at 6:00 p.m., the MUMC Music Ministry will present a special concert event in the church Christian Life Center entitled “Gloria! Noel”. It will feature the Chancel Choir, Joyful Noise Choir and the MUMC Orchestra. The Chancel Choir will also be performing special music at the Christmas Eve services.
MUMC Music Ministry is always looking for fresh ideas and new ways to grow as a ministry. Imsand is hoping to add a vocal ensemble group to sing more advanced musical selections in an a cappella eight-part harmony. For more information about MUMC Music Ministry, contact the church office at 256-772-9761.
Photo Credit: Peggy Namie