St Andrew's Presbyterian Church
8192 Davison Rd Davison MI 48423
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Musically Speaking
Music Ministry


Greetings and welcome to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian’s Website – I am the Minister of Music here, being called to the St. Andrew’s Staff effective January 1st, 2004. The position was created to fill a need for music leadership following the resignation of both their Choir Director and Organist in late 2003. Combining these responsibilities into one position was a new approach to Music Ministry here, and, after an understandable period of learning about each other, it seems to work well to the present time.

My earliest formal music training was in Public School Band, playing Trombone. Though I was first chair in high school Orchestra, Ensemble and Marching Band, I was delighted to sell my instrument after school and never played again – not my forte! My keyboard training has been concentrated in Organ and Piano, with eight years of private piano and five years of private organ instruction. It has included classical, secular, theater, and popular music, as well as theory and performance training. In addition, I have been nurtured through the years with seminars on Worship styles and presentation, accompanying Choirs and Congregational Singing, Organ Registration and basic computer music composition, just for example.

I began playing professionally at the age of 13 and have continued in various capacities  for my entire life. I love being a Servant in the Church Music field. During the Vietnam Era, I was an Air Force Fighter Jet Electronic Technician and played in all my base Chapels on the weekends, except during Basic Training. Though I tried to hide musically, it seems my local Pastor revealed my musical ability to government officials in an interview leading to my security clearance; the information was forwarded to my Base Chaplains for my whole enlistment period! This experience forced me to become an Ecumenical Organist, widening my circle of acquaintances and musical expertise immensely, as well as strengthening my personal commitment to Christ. I have had playing commitments in Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Catholic Congregations, amongst others, as well as presenting a variety of Sacred Organ Concerts. As I served these Congregations, I also provided keyboard support for most of the weddings and funerals of their members. For twenty-eight years I was the Staff Organist at First Baptist Church of Davison, which included accompanying a very active 40+ voice choir. I have been at times labeled an eclectic musician, because of my unusually large music library and ability to adapt on short notice.

It was at First Baptist that I met my wife, Linda. We have been married for forty-two years and have one son, Matthew. He has a wife and three lively sons here in Davison and has progressed into administration at the Davison Public Schools. Their family is deeply involved in the life of the Congregation at Central Church of the Nazarene in Flint.

My responsibilities at St. Andrew’s are constantly evolving, because our Congregation is always in transition of some sort for a variety of reasons. Currently, we have a Voice Choir – which sings September through May at most Worship Services. I have enjoyed learning about the world of Handbell Ringing, since coming to St. Andy’s. The St. Andy’s Ringers ring mainly Level 1 and 2 music and play in Worship several times during the year. In early 2018, I assembled a group of six-ringers, who ring more difficult music and also present in Worship periodically. They are called the Celestial Bells, because they ring the higher pitched bells and are challenged with more difficult music. Our bell equipment consists of three-octaves of Schulmerich brass bells and four-octaves of Schulmerich MelodyChimes.

For the Church’s 60th Anniversary, we received a beautiful Digital Schulmerich Carillon as a gift from Memorial Fund Gifts. It plays outside two or three times daily throughout the week and has the option of being played manually inside the Church Sanctuary. I’m enjoying its flexibility and huge library of bell music, learning more and more about the programming features, and am looking forward to playing bell music “live” occasionally for special events and Worship.

In addition to my responsibilities here at St. Andrew’s, I am active musically in the community. For eighteen years, I have been an Associate Organist at St. John Catholic Community in Davison and thoroughly enjoy the challenges of playing a 90-year old 40-rank Casavant Pipe Organ. This relationship has proven to be a tremendous resource for music questions, equipment, and library. Though many funeral homes are inclined to use prerecorded music, I still play funerals in the area from multiple denominations. It’s always a privilege to support our St. Andy’s families, when there is opportunity to celebrate, such as weddings or memorial services.

As a side note: I really do have other interests than music. I enjoy traveling/camping with my wife, reading, cooking/grilling, casual dining out, bird watching from our porch, watching our grandsons grow way too quickly, reading, camping, eating out, traveling – yes, we’re stuck in a rut; but, it’s our rut!!!

If you have any questions regarding Music Ministry, I would love to chat with you. Though I’m officially the Director, I prefer to present myself more as a musical and spiritual coach, than as a director.  We are a very friendly group and encourage each other as we learn about life and walking our Journey with Christ.

Thank you for checking out our Music Ministry webpage. Check back periodically to read the latest Musically Speaking editorial and any new features of our Website.

God Bless,

Merle

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