Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Midwest Convention

Chicago, Illinois

May 28-29, 2005

Saturday, May 28

The twentieth annual Midwest Sacred Harp Convention was held at the University Church on Saturday and the Irish American Heritage Center on Sunday on the fifth Sunday and Saturday before in May. Co-Chairs Ted Mercer and Lisa Grayson opened the Saturday morning session at 9:30 a.m. by welcoming singers and leading 277. Steve Parker offered the opening prayer.

It was announced that the twentieth convention was dedicated to all who helped make it sufficiently successful that the convention could continue for so long.

Leaders: Lisa Grayson and Ted Mercer 178; Ted Johnson and Marcia Johnson 89; Carolyn Deacy 312b; Suzanne Flandreau 40 (In memory of her deceased parents); Herb Schroeder 36b; Ariel Weinberg 191; Jim Swanson 397; John Seaton 47t; Jim Helke 198; Debbie Barford 163t; Linda Thomas 474; Rodney Ivey 328; Reba Dell Windom 224; Martha Beverly 56b; Steve Schmidgall 477.


Lisa Grayson and Ted Mercer brought the class to order leading 29t. Leaders: Phillip Trier, founder of the Chicago singers, 268; Megan Jennings 542; Doug Stapleton 485; Lorena Moore 148; David Wright 546; Johanna Fabke 547; Randy Neufeld 171; Emily Gruber 86; Richard Popp 306; Kathy Kaiser 29b; Bill Hamblin 106; Beth Huener 454; Jeff Gauthier 269.

A business session was held with the following officers elected or appointed to serve: Co-Chairs—Ted Johnson and Marcia Johnson; Vice Chairs—Randy Neufeld and Susan Geil; Chaplain—Wendy Popp; Memorial Committee—Richard DeLong, Ted Mercer, Linda Thomas, and Mary Rose O’Leary; Arranging Committee—Jerry Enright and Becky Browne; Resolutions Committee—Ginny Landgraf and Sam Harwell; Secretary—Cathryn Baker, assisted by Debbie Barford and Laura Clawson; Finance Committee—Randy Neufeld and Sue Kessell; Locating Committee—Ted Mercer, Judy Hauff, Ted Johnson, and Lisa Grayson. The business session was closed.

Leaders: Wendy Popp 472; Sam Farwell 31t; Jan Ketelle 368 (in honor of all those who are ill, especially Julie Vea, Jeanette Lowry, Dean Slaton, and Larry Olszewski); Janet Fraembs 385t (in remembrance of John Beabout, John Bailey, and Ruth White).


Ted Johnson and Marcia Johnson brought the class back to order leading 122. Leaders: Emily Collins, Ted Johnson and Marcia Johnson, and god-daughter 76b; Shirley Figura 565; James Page 272; Liz Kaiser 426 (t? b?); Jo Schultz 489; Bill Beverly 110; Carla Pepmiller 135; Stephen Parker 504; Cathy Lutz 34t; Paul Figura 107; Kit Pfau 159; Fred Todt 480. Wendy Popp led us in grace before the meal.


Rodney Ivey brought back the class back to order leading 88 (t? b?). Leaders: Paul Wyatt 53; Kathy Williams 273; Gary Gronau 112; David Ivey 419; Judy Caudle 365; Dave Ressler 67; Pauline Childers 318; Richard DeLong 456; Mary Rose O’Leary 333; Elene Stovall 142; Phillip Langley 215; Henry Johnson 29b; Karen Ivey and Allison Ivey 384; Scott DePoy 566; Laura Clawson 442; Stephen O’Leary 73t; Finance Committee 99; Kiri Miller 203; G.C. Waldrep 370.


Marcia Johnson and Pauline Childers brought the class back to order by leading 288. Leaders: Ted Johnson “Boulder”; Jerry Enright 458; David Carlton 496; Becky Browne 304 (in memory of Marie Aldridge); Linda Coppock and Jim Coppock 532; Allison Ivey and Karen Ivey 182; Mryka Hall-Beyer 352; Karen Swenson 270; Berkley Moore 290; Christine Stevens 444; Karen Isbell 383; Joanne Hoover 72b; Rachel Adelstein 218; Emmie Barford and Debbie Barford 344; Ginny Landgraf 283.

Ted Johnson and Marcia Johnson led 69t to close this first day of the convention. Wendy Popp led the closing prayer, and the class was dismissed.

Sunday, May 29

The convention opened at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Irish American Heritage Center, Chicago, with Co-Chairs Marcia and Ted Johnson leading 61. The opening prayer was offered by the chaplain.

Leaders: Laura Clawson 278b; Nick Pasqual 350; Kris Richardson 217; Cathryn Baker 340 (in memory of Jerilyn Schumacher); David Barford 173; Cindy Pepmiller 159; Orwin Youngquist 32b; Judy Hauff 536; Wendy Wahn 548; Aubrey Henninger 503; Peter Bradley 163b; Melanie Hauff 216; David Ivey 500; Lisa Grayson 436; Regina Bayer 203; Samuel Sommers 386; Grace Scrimgeour 31t; Kelly Brest van Kempen 335.


Ginny Landgraf called the class back to order by leading 39t. Leaders: Stephen O’Leary 32t; Karen Freund and Jerry Enright 77t; Steve Duff 189; Julie Vea 377; John Bayer and Lorraine Bayer 300; Carla Pepmiller 59; Hans Bayer 385b; Jubal Bayer 282; Nathan Barford 260; Christine Stevens 411; Henry Johnson 418; Karen Isbell 168; David Carlton 332; Joanne Hoover 312b; Berkley Moore 26; Bob Meek 457.


Becky Browne called the class back by leading 299. Leaders: Gary Gronau 192; Judy Caudle 507; Bill Beverly 86.

Ted Mercer conducted the memorial lesson which was in three parts: current sick and shut-ins, those deceased in the last year, and a memorial for the deceased who have helped continue the Midwest Convention over the past twenty years. Mary Rose O’Leary read the names of the sick and shut-ins and led 179 in their honor: Flarce Creel, Alice Edwards, Bill Green, Beufa Green, Martha Howell, Jeff Sheppard, Shelbie Sheppard, and Edith Tate—Alabama; Katherine Benefield, Josephine Denney, Felton Denney, Moena Denney, Doris Littrell, Donnie McGraw, Gladys McGraw, Nick Griffin, and Violet Thomason—Georgia; Al Frank, Mark Garber, Lori Graber, Violet Stark, Lee Steinmetz, and Steve Warner—Illinois; Dean Slaton—Indiana; Alfred Blank and Mary Schuman—Michigan; Olave Jorgen Hegge—Minnesota; Jeanette Lowry—Missouri; Marjorie Parker Burke—North Dakota; Allan Doering—South Dakota; Larry Olszewski—Tennessee ; -Ernestine Pirkin and Daniel Forbes—Texas; Bob Anderson, Bill Kepner, and Bob Scorgie—Wisconsin; Elking Pinkus.

Ted Mercer spoke about the deceased. The Midwest Convention might not have happened at all, or kept going for these twenty years, except for all the assistance we had from so many people. It could very easily have been an ethno-musicology statement, or maybe had a piano in the square. But that was changed because of some very patient people who were eager to teach the Chicagoans the traditional methods of singing Sacred Harp. Without them, we would not be here today. Part of that learning and sharing community has passed away in the last twelve months. They are from all over the country, but especially the South. He read the names from the deceased list: Ivalene Donaldson, Sherry Guthery, John Hocutt, and Morris Nelson—Alabama; Anne Friend—California; Ann Cullor—Colorado; Elvera Lee, Floyd Peters, and Nick Pender—Georgia; Nancy Granda, Francis John Hennigan (father), John Francis Hennigan (son), and Ruth White—Illinois; Lois DePoy and Tom DePoy—Indiana; Pat Mudd—Kansas; Ray Pfau and Cliffie Windom—Michigan; Dave Grundmeier, Darlene McDonaugh, and Eric Swenson—Minnesota; Phillip Alderman—Missouri; Tom Gibney—New Jersey; Phyllis Flandreau—New York; Kelly Beard—Texas; David van Allen Hotaling—Washington; Roberta Seaton—United Kingdom; Austin Burchett.

Linda Thomas spoke on the bonds of traveling to singings. Some of the people on the list were on the bus trips Ruth Brown organized to bring singers to Chicago. From them, those who participated were given perhaps the greatest gift of all, memories of conversations and learning the deeper levels of those who traveled in such close quarters for many miles. Although her parents and grandparents sang Sacred Harp, Linda had not been raised singing the music. She remembers her first encounter with a large group singing the music and heard what she had never heard before, notes she had never known were part of the music. It was the bus trips that brought her to that experience. They made possible bonds in Sacred Harp that could not have been forged so quickly and deeply in any other way. Linda read the names of those deceased who had participated in the Midwest Convention over the past twenty years: Marie Creel Aldridge, Gerry Armstrong, Harvey Austin, John Bailey, John Beabout, Kelly and Helene Beard, Joseph J. Beasley, Janet Borman, Ezra C. Bowen, Ruth Burnham Brown, Leman Brown, Hazel Morris Cagle, W. Kimzy Cagle, Lessie Albright Cates, Jimmy Causey, Elder H.K. Childers, Lewis Everette Denney, Evelyn Dillashaw, John Flandreau, Runie Glover, Willa Mae Lacy Haney, J.C. Harden, Ralph Heath, Karen House, Dr. James Levert Howell, Dovey Jackson, Don Johnson, Don and Marilou Jolly, Robert Mottingdorfer, Ted Pankey, Virgil and Ruby Phillips, Jerilyn Schumacher, Manuel Slaughter, Alvin Stanson, Anne Tarsa, Marilyn Trier, D.T. White, Alice Williams, Dewey President Williams, Revy Wallace Williamson, Carlton Wood, Freeman Wootten, and Delta Wootten. Linda Thomas led 499 in their memory.

Richard DeLong asked, “Where have the years gone?” They seem to be just a moment, albeit a very good one. And in another year, we will again visit in this place and again remember those who have died. Richard asked the front benches, the entire alto section and the basses to stand. Those standing equal in number those who died in the past year. Of all those singers he has known who are now dead all of them loved Sacred Harp more than any other earthly part of their lives. The blessings are so rich there is no price to place on them. These deceased singers, like many of us, thought of songs throughout the day, thought of lessons and people upon waking, and just before sleep. If you did not know these people, you can know two things about them. That they loved this music and that they were as deeply affected by it as those who are in the square today. Our hope is that they watch over us, even though they are no longer physically visible. They are yet visible in our hearts. One of our great comforts in this fellowship is that when the night of death comes on for us, we hope these souls will greet us with a song. He then led 285 (t? b?) in their memory.

Jerry Enright led a memorial lesson for Kelly Beard. Kelly was a link with an older school of Sacred Harp, although he was not quite of it. Born in 1918, Kelly went with Tom Denson to a singing school in 1931. There were many children there, all hosted by farm families, some of whom took care of nearly a dozen children for the 20-day-Iong singing school. Kelly had a great love of the music and could key nearly any song in the book without looking at it. He started coming to singings in Alabama in 1961 and loved them very much. Jerry met Kelly in 1990 and the two formed a close friendship, meeting at many singings over the past 15 years. Kelly showed Jerry what a great love the Sacred Harp family can share. He was always himself and never tried to be anything but a good, genuine individual. Jerry expressed a hope to be like Kelly when he grows up. He then led one of Kelly’s great favorites, 339.

Marcia Johnson said the Co-Chairs of the convention wanted to share and demonstrate the love Sacred Harp singers have for each other. She wanted something that symbolized growth and renewal. To that end she suggested we provide money for a grove of trees in the Holy Land, close to Jerusalem. Then, as the trees grow, so may our fellowship and the spread of peace. This was roundly supported by those present. Wendy Popp then closed the memorial lesson with prayer for those deceased and sick, concluding with a blessing for lunch.


Jim Helke brought the class back to order for the afternoon session leading 171. Leaders: Paul Figura 410 (t? b?); Allison Ivey 440; Scott DePoy 384; Reba Dell Windom 542; Henry Schuman 530; Elene Stovall 430; Rodney Ivey 30b; Jan Ketelle 212; Kathy Williams 222; Karen Ivey 475; Dave Ressler 214; Cathy Lutz 229; Anne Heider 362; Pauline Childers 498; Sue Kessell 236; Paul Wyatt 218 (in memory of John Bailey).


Richard Popp brought the class to order leading 209. Leaders: Martha Beverly 522; Steven Schmidgall 274b; Clare Cardy 128; Mryka Hall-Beyer 68b; Bart Casad and Gary Gronau 551; Stephen Parker 515; Rebecca Edwards 72b; David Wright 220; Kiri Miller 76b; Jeff Gauthier 254; Kit Pfau 497; Emily Gruber 276.

A business session was held for the purpose of hearing reports from various committees. The Resolutions Committee gave special recognition of the outgoing and incoming Co-Chairs, Ted Mercer, Lisa Grayson, Marcia Johnson, and Ted Johnson, who handled our location crisis so competently and proficiently, finding a new location for singing in less than 24 (t? b?) hours when we lost our reservation with the University of Chicago; the Southern singers who made special effort to attend our singings these many long years. But especially we give thanks to Ted Mercer who endlessly answers questions about nearly any crisis, and handles all with calmness and humor in an unobtrusive way, rarely getting the recognition he deserves.

The Finance Committee reported expenses had been met.

The Secretary reported that 102 leaders led 162 lessons with leaders from 17 states and Canada.

Announcements were made. The officers led 62 as the closing song, and those who so desired took the parting hand. Wendy Popp offered the closing prayer, and the class was dismissed.

Co-Chairs—Ted Johnson and Marcia Johnson; Vice Chairs—Randy Neufeld and Susan Geil; Secretary—Cathryn Baker, assisted by Debbie Barford and Laura Clawson.