Monday, November 29, 2010

Introducing our Choir Director, Michael Denton

The Lord leads us in wondrous ways! And I’m thankful that He has led me to Saanich Peninsula Presbyterian Church as your new Music Director. It’s some 10 years since I was a “full-time” Organist and Choir Director. A number of reasons led me to “hang up the organ shoes.” The main one was my shift work when I worked for BC Ferries. I just found it too difficult to have a firm church commitment while trying to juggle a work schedule to satisfy the needs of my job, which frequently took me out of town, often at very short notice.
     So, during the past 10 years I’ve “filled-in” at various churches on an “as needs” basis. And that’s how I came to play at SPPC. I was sent the note about your vacancy through the Royal Canadian College of Organists. I called Dr. Brian Altenkirk and told him that while I wasn’t interested in the position on a “full-time” basis, I was available to provide relief during your search. I’d just finished “filling in” at St. Stephen’s Anglican church in Saanichton, so the timing was good.
     I was very touched by the warm reception I received from the Minister, choir and congregation of SPPC. As time went along, and the Selection Committee wasn’t exactly flooded with applicants, I was asked on more than one occasion if I’d consider applying for the position. So, with the blessing of my wife Jeannie, and because of the warm reception I’ve received from the choir, congregation and Minister, I put in my application.
     I’m delighted to have been accepted and will do my best to carry on the excellent standard of music set by my predecessor.
Advent and Christmas will soon be upon us, and we’ll be singing some old favourites, as well as some new music I’ll introduce. We’re always looking for more singers, especially men, so if you feel you’d like to contribute to the ministry of music, please don’t hesitate to come and speak with me.
     Just one favour to ask of you all. As you know, all organists fall into various categories – and each organist seems to fit into them all. We either play too loudly, too quietly, too quickly or too slowly! Some people enjoy quiet and contemplative music before the service; others say it puts them to sleep! So, I’d appreciate you coming to me directly with any comments and/or suggestions, bearing in mind that one person will never satisfy everyone! But I’ll do my best! I would however appreciate it if you’d come and speak with me. It’s much better than hearing it from others. Please don’t be shy; I don’t bite!
     Thank you for the opportunity to share my gift of music with you all at SPPC!
-- Michael

Michael playing the organ at St. John's

Monday, November 22, 2010

Coming Home

Yes, it does feel like coming home to be attending a Presbyterian church again—and a good reformed one at that! I started out life in a Presbyterian church--Fairview Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, to be exact. At the age of eight it was on to another reformed church, this time in Pennsylvania, where my dad had obtained the kind of job unavailable in Canada in those days. I moved back to Vancouver when I was 17, returning to my old church, marrying a Swiss several years later, and moving to Switzerland nine years later.
You don’t truly appreciate real evangelical churches until you have lived long-term on a continent which is now only nominally Christian. It becomes all too easy to give up on the state churches and succumb to the temptation of just watching services from the UK on the TV. However, this kind of compromise never compares to the joy of being in communal worship, although I was perhaps not conscious of it at the time.
We returned to Canada in the year 2000, but came to Sidney only in 2006. At the time SPPC did not have a permanent pastor (at least, that is what my sometimes faulty memory is telling me….), so I attended a church which was within walking distance of where I live. Still, I felt drawn back to my roots and am very happy to report that I have indeed come “home”. You probably didn’t even realize I was missing!

Blessings to all

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Musical, 2010

When I was asked by my friend and fellow UVIC theatre student, Phillip Van de Ruyt, if I would fill a role in a Christmas musical he was directing at SPPC, not only was I honored to be asked, but I was immensely excited for the opportunity. I have always been passionate about music and theatre, so this has naturally been a wonderful experience for me. Thank you to everyone involved for making me feel so welcome!"
Editor's Note: The Christmas musical this year is "Once Upon a Christmas" with music by Owen Hatch and words by Marion Rettke. The play is based on an old Russian tale of Martin the Cobbler, as told by Leo Tolstoy. On Christmas eve, in Tsarist Russia, Martin is expecting a visit from Christ.
To meet Martin and his visitors, plan to attend, Dec. 11, 2010, 7:00pm. Free Admission. Good will offering to support Mission and Outreach projects. Refreshments to follow.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Listening to the Bible"

by Joan Larsen

I enjoy reading the Bible, but, because of the poor sight in my right eye,the printing in my Bible was too small. So, off I went to the Christian Book and Music Centre to get a large print Bible. WOW!!

What a variety of Bibles, with discs to go along with them. In fact, the new King James Bible has sound effects that make you think you are in a movie theatre. I decided to get the "New International Version" of the Holy Bible" and the set of discs that go with it. I then transferred the discs onto my IPad.

I thought I might as well start at Genesis, seeing it is the first book in the old testament. I was doing quite well and was fascinated with all the history. But, when I got to 2 Kings, I got bogged down. All the wars seemed to unsettle me. So, I left 2 Kings and started skipping around and only read my favorite scriptures. This was not going to work if I was planning to read the whole Bible. Finally I got a chart listing all of the books of the Bible, and how they relate to one another.

I found the best way to read was to listen to the disc, and follow along reading the Bible. This works for only a short while for me as my eyes tire easily. I then close my eyes and listen to the narrator. He has a pleasing voice with not too many inflections in it. I read some every day and I know it will take me a lot more time than it would for some others, but I will do the best I can and learn how to follow God Almighty and Jesus Christ my Saviour.

God Bless

Joan Larsen is a faithful member of SPPC. She is the former accompanist for the Living Flame (Children's Choir), takes a regular turn in the kitchen and counts Bible Study as one of the highlights of her week.