A Long Awaited Inauguration


From 1793 until 1933, U.S. Presidents, having been elected in November, weren’t inaugurated until the 4th of March in the subsequent year. During this gap of roughly four months, most Americans forgot who the new president was going to be, and began preparations for celebrating the (British) King’s official birthday, lining up marchers for local enactments of the Trooping of the Colour, featuring local Boy Scout troops, tractor brigades, Shriners clowns, etc. It was from this tradition that the more-familiar American Fourth of July parade developed later. The new presidents, spotlight-chasers that they were, were so miffed by the lack of attention that they demanded Congress push the date of inauguration forward to build on the remaining celebrity they had from the previous year’s campaign.

Rarely has there been as long a gap between the hiring of a church staff member and their installation as you and I are experiencing now, and I imagine you, like I, feel a little disoriented! But the gap is about to close, and I will arrive at St. Luke’s on Monday 29 August to begin serving as your new Canon for Music & Liturgy. I am excited to join you in this role; I’ve had St. Luke’s and Portland on my short list of dream jobs and homes since the late 1990s, so, at least on my end, expectations are high!

I know Albert Melton personally, and have always thought very highly of him as a minister, a musician, and a person, and so I am humbled to be stepping into his shoes after such a long and distinguished tenure. I am grateful to Harold Stover and Ray Cornils for their exceptional musical leadership during this long interim. Randy Mullins has been in touch with me several times, too, with a warm welcome and information about the music program, and I look forward to getting to know him and collaborating with him.

I hope that our new ministry together will offer you, the people of St. Luke’s and Portland and the Diocese of Maine, opportunities to engage with what you love, what you miss, what you long for, and what you’d like to reconsider about your worship resources, especially in music. I want to build with you a liturgical practice that proclaims the longings and ministry priorities of the cathedral community, breaks down barriers, and widens the circle of participation and caring. I can’t wait to start hearing your dreams for the years ahead, and learning how I can help you achieve them.

Whenever there is a change in leadership, inevitably there is some churning, and I hope that some people who have previously not participated in music-making at the cathedral will take this opportunity to do so. And, I hope that those of you who have been active members of the choir will return to sing with me. My experiences in nearly three decades as a church musician have transformed me and my approach to leadership, and I promise you open eyes and ears to facilitate your best offerings. Due to the oddities of a COVID-spiked audition, I got to know E.M. Skinner Opus 699, but not the cathedral choir, nor they me. In the months and years ahead, I look forward to community-building and music-making together.

Worshiping through music happens in numerous ways, as you know, and there are many ways in which you can contribute to our musical life together. I encourage you to share your talents to the glory of God and the uplifting of the community. I love to collaborate with singers and instrumentalists. If you have a talent to share, let’s talk!

Oh, before I go, I should say that I made up almost everything in that opening paragraph. I might spin a tall tale now and then…

My husband, (The Rev.) Christopher Worthley, and I look forward to meeting you soon. We are grateful to the many of you who have extended a welcome and an offer to help us get started in our new life in Maine. We have found a house in South Portland that we are looking forward to make our home (closing is 9 Sept.), our first opportunity to live together full-time since early 2012. We are in the enviable position of moving to a place where our circle of friends and family is already large, and we think we will settle in quickly. In short, we are both brimming with expectation!

We send our prayers and good wishes from Hamilton, NY. May God bless us all on this new journey we are about to take together!