Music is an integral part of our worship services and having someone to lead sometimes-reluctant congregants in singing hymns is a key role to be filled on those Sundays when Amber is absent. The Song Leaders are brave volunteers from the Chalice Choir who help the UUFA family sing confidently and loudly as we proclaim our shared values in song! Jamie Mendenhall, Debbie Hardegree, Diana Torell, Nancy MacNair, Susie Weller, and Sarah Cook keep our worship services flowing and offer support to Crystal, the worship leaders, and guest musicians.
Our Song Leaders share a love of music and a strong commitment to the UUFA music program, but each path to this place was unique. Some, like Nancy MacNair, are long-time members. She joined UUFA in the mid-1970s to find a spiritual home for her young family, and became a member of the first choir formed at the fellowship. Some, like Jamie Mendenhall, have found us more recently. Missing a sense of spiritual community, Jamie accepted a friend’s invitation to try the choir just over a year ago, and not only decided to stay, but quickly assumed a leadership role.
Each Song Leader has a fascinating personal story about their previous musical experiences. Debbie tells of singing in the church choir as a child, of teaching herself to play the guitar as a teen, of jamming with her siblings. Diana’s history includes taking part in school and community musical theater, studying music in college, playing in bands with other Athens musicians, and a short stint teaching music to elementary and middle school students. The love of music shines through all of their tales.
And we in the congregation are the lucky beneficiaries of their talents and enthusiasm. While most will admit to being a little nervous as they stand up to lead us in singing our hymns, they also describe how much they enjoy it, love it, and find it fulfilling to help the congregants feel more confident singing. Debbie summed up the sentiment of our Song Leaders when she said, “It feeds my spirit to make music and encourage others.” Through serving as Song Leaders, Susie, Sarah, Nancy, Diana, Jamie, and Debbie feed our spirits on Sunday mornings, and on Sunday, September 30, we recognized their important contributions to our community! By Julie Sapp