Greetings, all, and welcome to Sing Amen!—Ministering through Music!

My name is Jennifer Kerr Breedlove-Budziak. I am a conductor, composer, liturgical musician, and singer, and I currently serve as Editor for Music Formation Resources at GIA Publications. My mission here at GIA is to help develop materials to help music ministers grow as musicians and ministers.  Part of that involves editing books and other more concrete in-print materials, but Sing Amen! will also be a big part of what I do–and along with the blog and podcast, a big part of this project will be reaching out to you, the ministers yourselves—connecting with real people, and getting them connected with one another, sharing wisdom, finding out where we feel lost and where we feel solid, discovering places we can reach out to each other.

I met Jerry Galipeau for the first time on Holy Thursday of 2000, at Ascension Church in Oak Park, IL. By some spirit-led chance we were sitting in the same pew, and when the entire church was invited forward to have our feet washed, he washed my feet, and I washed his. And somewhere in that short space of foot-washing time our eyes met; for the first time I got to be on the receiving end of that warm and lovely smile, and just like that, we were friends. Without speaking a word. We stood shoulder to shoulder in the pew and sang, and then we washed each other’s feet, and then we sang some more. We walked up to the table to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we returned to our places, and we prayed and sang some more. When by the end of the evening we hugged and said good-night, it felt like we had known each other forever. The stories and the histories and the conversations came later; the friendship came out of song and prayer and the washing of feet.

It is a friendship that has now lasted nearly 20 years, and I miss Jerry very much now that he has moved away from Chicago and full-time music ministry. But the marks he has left on the field of pastoral music in general and especially here in Chicago are still there, plain to see. Among other things, during his years as Vice-President of World Library Publications, Jerry kept a blog called “Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray,” in which he talked about music and ministry and liturgy, not in an abstract academic sense, but close-up and personal, in terms of the way they intersected with his life and work. We heard about his travels, met the various communities where he visited and presented, heard from time to time about his musical-liturgical pet peeves, and were often invited to share our own stories and questions in the comments, something vitally important for a community that pretty much is all at work at the same time and never gets to visit one another’s places of ministry to experience what each other does! (My friend Teresa Yoder and I managed to miss each other for a couple of years; she would come to Chicago from Virginia on her Sundays off after Christmas or Easter, and email me to ask if we could connect, but usually at the same time I had gone back to Maryland on my Sundays off…)

It is Jerry Galipeau’s inspiration that sits at the heart of this blog, and by extension this whole Sing Amen! project—being a liturgical musician can be a lonely path, and our connections with each other often feel like our only way through the frustrations and confusions. Here on this site I hope to create a space not only where I can share thoughts and conversations and ideas for how to keep growing as musicians and ministers, but also where we can share ideas with each other—both related to whatever specific posts are here on the blog itself, and on more general topics on our Facebook page.

So stay tuned! Stop in and introduce yourself (there’s a comment box below–please say hi and tell us who you are!), pull up a chair, bookmark the page, and let’s talk!

And let the people of God sing Amen!