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From the Rector,
I write to share happy news. With the advice and consent of the Vestry, Dr Jeffrey Smith will be returning to K St to serve as our new Music Director in April. This appointment fills me not only with great joy, but also tremendous optimism in sacred music continuing as a flagship ministry of our parish.
Jeffrey's record speaks for itself - not only as a world class musician, but also as an organist and choirmaster with tremendous skills in leadership and development. This was attested to repeatedly in superb references from senior clergy.
Many of you hold memories of Jeffrey's previous service to the parish, and have shared wonderful stories and anecdotes reflecting back on his time here. For those of you who do not know him, Jeffrey served as Director of Music from 1992-2004. He enabled significant growth in the music program, and in many ways, his legacy and impact still surround us. Jeffrey left K St in response to a call from Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. Following on, he has worked both in academia and in various interim positions, where references described him using his gifts fruitfully in responding to significant challenges. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Yale.
I decided to end the search process earlier than I first intended, with the decision to call Jeffrey. Early on in my tenure here, it became clear that we face very significant challenges, especially in funding ministries. Sustaining the caliber and quality of our music program in the midst of our financial challenges is daunting. Prior to the search for a permanent Director of Music, the Music Taskforce released a report with a compelling vision for the future. As outlined in the report, there is immense potential in our music program as a vehicle for growth and outreach.
Jeffrey's incredibly strong application spoke directly to the skills, experience, energy, and personality that I believe we now need for a time such as this - and I was particularly moved by his commitment both to music as vocation, and to the demanding work of parish ministry - "the hard graft of Monday morning Anglo-Catholicism". Together this gave me a moment of clarity - an Epiphany experience - and it became clear that, given the various pressures we face, making this appointment was the right choice for St Paul's, selecting the best candidate in the field of applicants we received for our parish at this time, which eliminated a lengthy (and expensive) period of interviews and auditions.
One key factor for me in making this decision was Jeffrey's commitment to understanding music as a catalyst for growth, and making connections beyond our walls. The opportunities and possibilities now set before us are, I believe, tremendous.
On behalf of all of us in the parish whose lives have been touched by John Bohl, the Vestry and I wish to express how deeply grateful we are to him - both for his prior service as Assistant Music Director, and now as Interim Music Director. John has served the parish and programs exceptionally well; his talent is extraordinary. We owe him our thanks and gratitude. John will continue to serve through Holy Week and Easter. As John's time here draws to a close there will, of course, be opportunities to say goodbye properly and to contribute to a purse.
On a personal note, my vision is firmly set on our future, with music continuing to serve at the heart of our worship, and also as a primary vehicle for growth and connections within and outside the parish. I am excited to welcome Jeffrey as a member of our staff team, and to working closely, collaboratively, and creatively with him, in the first and last task we all share of worshipping Jesus Christ, and proclaiming His Gospel. Below find his own message to the parish - in the meantime, we look forward to greeting Jeffrey in just a few weeks time. As we move into transition and then permanence, I ask you all to use the words of this BCP prayer:
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From the incoming Director of Music:
I'm delighted to return to Saint Paul's, a treasured place for me and for my family. And it's a blessing to follow Mark Dwyer and Robert McCormick, who brought their distinctive personal stamp to the music program here. I'm particularly indebted to John Bohl, whose dedication and musicianship I respect, and with whom I shall look forward to working during a transitional period.
Though I owe the parish an enormous debt for experience acquired during my previous tenure, I wouldn't want to let the rear-view predominate. I return to a parish evolved since 2004; likewise, the past thirteen years have shaped me in ways which I think will be of benefit here. One can't step twice into the same river. And so, I greatly look forward to starting afresh, with much to be built and many new avenues to explore.
- Jeffrey Smith