Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Pacific Northwest Convention-Washington

Sunset Hill Community Club, Seattle, Washington

February 14-15, 2004

Saturday, February 14

The thirteenth annual session of the Washington portion of the Pacific Northwest Convention met at the Sunset Hill Community Club in Seattle on the third Sunday and Saturday before in February. Co-Chairs Karen Willard and David Wright opened the convention at 9:30 a.m. leading 47t. Chaplain Reed Schilbach offered the opening prayer. Kathy Vlach led 70t; Joanne Hoover 99; Reed Schilbach 39t.

A business meeting was held with the following officers elected or appointed to serve: Co-Chairs—Karen Willard and David Wright; Treasurer—Kathy Vlach; Secretary—Joanne Hoover; Arranging Committee—Anne Huckins, Reed Schilbach, Kathy Vlach, Linda Laing, David Wright, Karen Willard, Greg Saue, and Lucinda Saue; Memorial Committee—Martie Hoadley, John Carson, and Karen Willard; Resolutions Committee—Jacob Priestley and David Hough.

Leaders: Anne Huckins 171; Jinx McGuire 28b; Susan Helf 34b; Gary Plouff 300; Betty Jones 72b; Jack Lofton 228; Marcia Stedman 504; Tom Yeager 107; Karen Stingle 254; Scott Kennedy 68b; Martie Hoadley 312b.


Shannon McGuire called the class back to order with 457. Leaders: Jenny Jensen 500; Marilyn Murata 492; Juanita Heyerman 46; Daphene Causey 222; LaRue Allen 200; Stan Jensen 217; Kiri Miller 224; Carolyn Gilkey 163b; Mryka Hall Beyer 133; Jessica Beer 511; Greg Saue 523; Meg Larson 143; Martha Johnson 108b; Connie Stanton 66; Tom Payne 375; Fran Ross 31t; Jim Brock 497; Karen Willard 455.


Jim Van Horn called the class back to order with 531. Leaders: Janice Bridges 117; Dan Thoma 29t; Darlene Simpson Brown 290; Sharon DuPriest 198; Martha Applegate 551; Angie Johnson 178; Darlene Franz Van Horn 479; Alice Poinier 86; Jacob Priestley 146. Reed Schilbach asked the blessing for the noon meal.


The afternoon session opened with Karen Stingle leading 318. Leaders: Kathy Vlach 515; Eric Holt 49b; John Carson 361; David Wright 168; Kiri Miller 112; LaRue Allen 142; Marilyn Murata 319; Jack Lofton 362; Daphene Causey 434; Jenny Jensen 299; Jinx McGuire 40; Jordan Singer 114; Raoul Titus 163t; Suzanne Denker 56b; Molly Whedbee 547; Juanita Heyerman 421; Stan Jensen 283; Mryka Hall Beyer 350; Sharon DuPriest 196.


Janice Bridges called the class back to order with 129. Leaders: Alice Poinier 84; Martha Channon 159; Shannon McGuire 137; Jessica Beer 384; Meg Larson 452; Ken Cofield 61; Jim Brock 63; Connie Stanton 108t; Reed Schilbach 122; Anne Huckins 276; Gary Plouff 328; Susan Helf 496; Jacob Priestley 106; Darlene Simpson Brown 303; Dan Thoma 566; Tom Payne 282; Joanne Hoover 477; Fran Ross 385b; Carolyn Gilkey 549; Karen Stingle 569b; Betty Jones 503; Scott Kennedy 454.

After announcements were made, Karen Willard and David Wright led 157 (WB) as the closing song. Chaplain Reed Schilbach dismissed the class with prayer.

Sunday, February 15

Co-Chairs Karen Willard and David Wright opened the Sunday session at 9:30 a.m. with 73t. Chaplain Gary Plouff offered the opening prayer.

Leaders: David Hough 30t; Linda Laing 47t; Jinx McGuire 155; Shannon McGuire 135; Lucinda Saue 209; John Carson 72b; Suzanne Denker 85; Greg Saue 270, Martha Johnson 148; David Wright 278b.


Darlene Simpson Brown called the class back to order with 145t. Leaders: Janice Bridges 268; Molly Whedbee 67; Katharine Hough 480; Melisa Doss 159; Tom Yeager 63; Bruce Rowland 282; LaRue Allen 192; Jordan Singer 320; Martie Hoadley 107; Daphene Causey 269; Kiri Miller 216; Stan Jensen 475; Mryka Hall Beyer 207; Sharon DuPriest 189; Juanita Heyerman 287.


The class resumed singing with Linda Laing leading 82t. Leaders: Jenny Jensen 499; Marilyn Murata 486; Jack Lofton 538; Fran Ross 551.

John Carson conducted the memorial lesson and began by saying, “There are many new folks here today who might think that what follows is a little strange. Sacred Harp singing isn’t just about the melodies and harmonies, or the words; it also has a rich culture and heritage that is a big part of it. Reading the list of deceased and sick and shut-ins is an important part of all this which becomes our connection with those who are not here today.

Modern hymns seem to have lost any reference to death as being part of life; but many Sacred Harp songs face death with a certain air of reassurance, and even some joy. Most of the Sacred Harp songs about death are in a major key, and even a sprightly tempo. Very few are in a dark minor key.

Many of the names of the deceased which I will read are known to only one or two people here today; some only by reputation, and many are of a generation which is passing away; each of these departed seems to diminish our lives somewhat.” John Carson led 329 for the deceased which included: Ann App, Wayne Iverson, Stan Slivinski, and Skippy Slivinski—Washington; Kathy Blago, Gene Lander, Judy Hogg, Emory Vea, Trim Bissell, and Rand Owen—Oregon; James Lavaughn Ballinger, Allie Aldridge, Ruth Burnham Brown, Lamar Smith, and Elder Donald Smith—Alabama; Clarence Lambert—Georgia; Lora Pistoresi, Kay Eiko, Polly Ann Baxter, and Tom Sullivan—California; David Lewin—Massachusetts; Blanche Hull—Montana; Hugh Anderson—New York; Mary Flickinger—Ohio; Cecelia Hauff—South Dakota; Shirley Huckins—Utah; Dinah Brunig—Vermont; Lois Jancaitis—West Virginia.

Karen Willard offered a special tribute: “We don’t usually single out one person to eulogize in our memorial lessons. But every once in a while, we lose someone who was so significant to all of us, and for whose loss our grief is so powerful, that we must stop and say a few words particular to them. Miss Ruth Burnham Brown was such a person. She was born in August of 1910 and died last May, at the age of 92. At a time when few women went to college at all, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville State Teachers College and began a 37 (t? b?) year teaching career in 1932, in Cleburne County, Alabama. She came from a singing family and married a singing man, Mr. Leman Brown. But for us from the newer singing areas outside of the South, her life didn’t begin to impact us until she retired from teaching and took up her second calling: that of travel organizer par excellence. And her nickname was born: “the Bus Lady,” the person who chartered a bus every year and filled it up with singers from Georgia and Alabama and took them as living ambassadors of the tradition to New England, New York, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, the Twin Cities of Minnesota and other points within reach of a day or so of travel. Her last project was planning the trip of a group of southern singers to England; the trip was accomplished three months after her death. The Pacific Northwest is many long miles from Alabama, too far for the usual bus trip. But two years ago, Ruth planned a 10-day vacation for seven southern singers that brought them to our convention. Those of you who were here will remember the elegant, silver-haired lady, seated in the black throne-like chair in the alto section, who delivered such a simple and moving memorial lesson for us. Those of us present that day will never forget. In C.S. Lewis’s book, “The Great Divorce,” the main character is allowed to travel from earth to heaven for a short visit by means of an omnibus, a special route bus. He is able to glimpse a portion of the reality of heaven and then to return using the same omnibus. Miss Ruth’s omnibus went the opposite direction, bringing a taste—whether it was always wanted or not—of the genuine, the real thing, to those singings that sprang up outside of the tradition, and then all too quickly it returned home. For those of us in the North, her bus riders and their examples were the first real contact with the “traditional” versus whatever it was we’d been doing of the Sacred Harp experience. The people in that bus traveled many miles, first up and down the East Coast for 17 years and then branching out. The influence of those trips is incalculable, and we are all profoundly grateful, for they brought to us a true glimpse of heaven. Miss Ruth was an alto, so in her memory today, let’s sing one of her favorite songs, notes and words just as she liked it, that song beloved of all altos, 142.”

Martie Hoadley remembered the sick and shut-ins by saying, “We have come together this weekend from all directions and by several means: car, plane, and train. For many reasons we have gathered at this convention. We have come to reunite with old friends, with lots of catching up to do. No reason for our setting aside this weekend to be together is stronger than our love of singing.” She then read the poem, “How Can I Keep from Singing” by Anne Warner. She continued, “Part of the shape-note tradition is remembering those dear to us who are sick or unable to leave their homes—we call them shut-ins. Let us bringing to mind the meaning of music to all of us and our compassion for these persons as their names are read: Jerry Schreiber, Loraine Bayer, Carroll Lunsford, Kelly Beard, Donnie McGraw, Lebron Hinton, Chad Nunn, Paul Steppenbeck, Clare Hoffman, Kari Lundgren, Mary Bullock Johnson, Robert Hoover, Everen Lacy Miller, Leah Polacek, Albertina Ferrulano, Susan Soliz, Johnny Jeans, Bob Smith, Kay Smith, Steven Hough, and Fumie Murata.” Chaplain Gary Plouff closed the memorial lesson with prayer.

David Wright led 30b. Chaplain Gary Plouff asked a blessing on the food.


Jack Lofton began the afternoon session leading 383. Leaders: Anne Huckins 277; Kathy Vlach 53; Tom Payne 335; Kiri Miller 442; LaRue Allen 436; Stan Jensen 32t; Daphene Causey 222; Bruce Rowland 426b; Mryka Hall Beyer 236; Ken Cofield 324; Sharon DuPriest 212; Jenny Jensen 532; Marilyn Murata 274t; Juanita Heyerman 29b; Dan Thoma 37b; Scott Kennedy 146; Katharine Hough 372; Jessica Beer 74b.


Joanne Hoover called the class back to order with 354b. Leaders: Bob Schinske and Sophia Schinske 496; Jordan Singer and Corinna Singer 49b; Jim Van Horn 95; Carolyn Gilkey 273; Connie Stanton 448b; Gary Plouff 153; Karen Stingle 203; Eric Holt 31t; Meg Larson 503; Jim Brock and Erik Schwab 34b; Susan Helf 344; Alice Poinier 388; Betty Jones 59; Suzanne Denker 65; Reed Schilbach and Curtis Taylor 39t; Tom Payne 528; Greg Saue and Lucinda Saue 36b; Martha Johnson 280; Melisa Doss 49t; Fran Ross 380; David Hough 384; Scott Kennedy 347.

The class went into a business session to hear committee reports and announcements.

The Treasurer announced that expenses had been met, and thanked the class for their generosity.

Jacob Priestley gave the Resolutions Committee Report, thanked the Creator for the gifts and blessings of these days which allowed us to join together to sing divine praise. The many workers and officers of the convention were thanked.

The Arranging Committee reported 103 registrants, with numerous others who slipped in to listen. States represented were: Washington 69 (t? b?), Oregon 24 (t? b?), Alabama 3, Alaska 1, California 2, Massachusetts 1, Utah 2, and Canada 1.

All reports were approved as submitted and the business session was closed.

Co-Chairs Karen Willard and David Wright led 48t as the closing song, inviting everyone to take the parting hand. Chaplain Gary Plouff closed the convention with prayer.

Co-Chairs—Karen Willard and David Wright; Treasurer—Kathy Vlach; Secretary—Joanne Hoover.