Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Kentucky State Sacred Harp Singing

Pisgah Presbyterian Church, Versailles, Kentucky

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The 40th annual Kentucky State Sacred Harp Singing, hosted by the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers (AASHS), was called to order at 9:03 a.m. by Ron Pen, convener for the morning session. Ron made a few announcements about the singing, its history, the schedule, and facilities. The Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition and The Southern Harmony were used throughout the day. Jim Thobaben offered the morning prayer.

Leaders: Ron Pen 73b; Jim Thobaben and Randy Webber 128; Tom Morton 503; Tim Gregg 68b; Donna Bing and Randy Webber 277; Fr. Joseph 299; Fr. Serge and Tim Gregg 306; Randy Webber 322 (SoH); William Hays and Tim Morton 236; Alana Boltz 479; Erin Fulton 100; Rafi Finkel 66; Kathy Sweeton and Ron Pen 178; Donna Kwon 47t; Josh Stoll 47b; Laura Lee Earles 148.


Judy Taylor called the class back together by leading 312b. Leaders: Tim Morton 32t; Susan Liddle 209; Josiah Robinson 535; Ron Pen 455; Jim Thobaben and Rafi Finkel 38b; Tom Morton 496 (Ron Pen remembered Bob Meek before we sang 496 since it had been one of Bob’s favorites); Tim Gregg 108b; Donna Bing and Randy Webber 452; Fr. Joseph 189; Fr. Serge and Fr. Joseph 310 (SoH); Randy Webber 16 (SoH); William Hayes 551; Alana Boltz 81t; Mary Brinkman 313b; Pearl Marshall 454; Erin Fulton 92t (SoH); Rafi Finkel 159b (SoH); Kathy Sweeton and Ron Pen 268.


Randy Webber conducted the memorial lesson. Randy shared some personal comments about death and the deceased, after which he read the following list of names of the sick and shut-ins: Ed Walton, Jesse Vear, Katy Morton, John Bruce Stephenson II, and Regina Dongell. He led 86.

Randy then led 71 for Traci Focke, a cousin of Michelle Cull, since Michelle could not attend the singing. Traci was from Ohio and had died in April of this year from an aggressive cancer.

Ron Pen then memorialized his ex-wife, Helen Hooey Pen, who had died on June 27, 2021. Hooey and Ron shared many adventures, and had a daughter, Robin. Hooey was not a natural singer—as a student at St. Timothy’s boarding school, she was a member of the Cacophonies singing group—but she loved to sing. She was not attracted to shape note singing initially, but she was most supportive of Ron’s participation and eventually began attending singings just so they could share the experience together. Hooey assisted with many facets of Sacred Harp singing with Ron, including getting him a dolly for moving loaner books one Father’s Day to make the task much easier. She sang, but never led, she always wanted to sit next to a strong tenor singer. Ron then thanked the members of our singing group who had traveled to Saint Hubert’s Episcopal Church in Clark County last August in order to sing as part of her Celebration of Life. Ron led 118 in loving memory of Hooey.

Ron then shared some reflections on the life of Cari Norris. Cari Anna Norris was born in Lexington, KY on June 26, 1970 and died in Louisville, KY April 12, 2022. Cari graduated from Jessamine County High School, attended Earlham College, and then achieved a B.A. and M. A from the University of Louisville. She spent many years teaching art in the Louisville public school system and concluded her teaching career as a grades specialty teacher at the innovative Waldorf School where she taught music and dulcimer ensembles. She sang shape notes with Ron at Appalachian Family Folk Gathering at the Hindman Settlement School. She was not a regular Sacred Harp singer, but she loved the tunes deeply and recorded them on various albums over the years. Ron led 90 (SoH) for Cari.

Brian Clinkenbeard made comments about his father, Jerome, an Illinoisan who died in January, 2022 of prostate cancer at the age of 69 (t? b?). Brian led 47b.

Tim Morton memorialized Coy Ivey of Alabama, who died in 2021. Tim recalled a childhood memory that Coy had previously shared. Coy’s uncle had a piano moved into Liberty Baptist Church for a service with singing, but the congregation with the piano ran late on Sunday and the Sacred Harp singers, who were outside, had to wait until the service let out. They didn’t allow piano music there after that, and the piano left there on Monday. Tim led 384 in memory of Coy.

Tim then remembered Joan Aldridge, an Alabamian, who died in 2021. Tim commented that Joan had a measured tone both when she led and when she talked, and that she went to many singings. Tim led 228 in memory of Joan.

Raphael (Rafi) Finkel memorialized Karl and Jean Michler who both died in 2021, and were Rafi’s son-in-law’s grandparents. Rafi led 38 (SoH) for them.

Fr. Serge (Sergius), monk and farm manager at Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, West Virginia, memorialized James Lee Reeves. Lee cut hay for Holy Cross Monastery for many years, allowing Fr. Serge and Lee to become very close friends. Lee died from Covid in November of 2021. He had been falsely accused of stealing and wrongfully fired from his position at the Wayne County School Bus Depot. He was arrested, lost most of his friends, and had to sell his farm animals, but through it all his faith in God became stronger. During the two years of legal proceedings, Fr. Serge never heard Lee say a vindictive word against his enemies. Just before he died, the judge issued a fully prepared ruling completely dismissing all accusations against Lee, stating the charges against him were reckless at best. At Lee’s funeral, Abraham Saad (Lee’s defense lawyer) remarked with great sincerity that James Lee Reeves was the greatest of men. Fr. Serge led 266 (SoH).

Randy Webber memorialized Brooke Webber, his father from Georgia who died in 2020, and George, his uncle from Pennsylvania who died in 2022, both of Covid. Randy led Epitaph, a hand-out with anonymous text and Scottish paraphrases that had been scored by Randy in 2019. That concluded the memorial lesson. Randy Webber gave the blessing for the noon meal.


Rafi Finkel convened the afternoon session by leading 515. Leaders: Alana Boltz 338 (for her great uncle Lawrence Boltz, a Utahn who died in February 2022); Donna Kwon 73t; Josh Stoll 203; Laura Lee Earles 278t; Judy Taylor 146; Tim Morton 112; Susan Liddle and Rafi Finkel 497; Josiah Robinson 562; Ron Pen 524; Tim Gregg 99; Donna Bing and Randy Webb 547; Fr. Serge 159; Fr. Serge and Fr. Joseph 39t (SoH); Randy Webber 504; Alana Boltz 117; Mary Brinkman 457; Erin Fulton 201; Kathy Sweeton and Rafi Finkel 107; Brian Clinkenbeard and Randy Webber 125; Rafi Finkel 269; Ron Pen 103 (SoH); Tim Gregg and Erin Fulton 59 (SoH); Rafi Finkel 569b.

Announcements were made, after which the class sang 267 as the closing song. All who wished shared the parting hand, and the class was dismissed at 3:06 p.m.

Chairperson and Treasurer—Charles H. Coulston; Secretary—Mary Brinkman