Julie Steiner, Old First’s Director of Music, is stepping down from her position at the end of this choir season. The congregation showed its appreciation for her ministry during her last regular worship service on Sunday, June 2.
Her impact on this congregation has been profound. The following are excerpts and summaries from some of the tributes that were shared that day:
- Michael’s sermon focused on the importance of regular worship, using Julie’s ministry as an example of the unusal fusion of a deep commitment to social justice along with a equal commitment to
- Suzanne’s tribute during worship noted Julie’s strong commitment to the UCC principle of extravagant welcome: “She takes all comers, meets us where we are, and challenges us to be better than we thought we could be. Isn’t that what church is all about?”
- Geneva Butz, Old First’s pastor emerita and the pastor back in 1996 when Julie was hired, shared how far the congregation has evolved since that time. “You’re crying now, but when the idea of hiring Julie was first suggested, you were quaking in your boots.”
- Tim said that while he has worked with hundreds of musicians in his career, he’s never had as much fun as he’s had working with Julie.
- Beth W shared the Five Things Life Lessons Learned from Singing in a Church Choir, as taught by Julie:
- If you can talk, you can sing. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you can join our choir if you can talk.
- If you can’t hear anyone else singing, you are probably singing too loud. Two ears, one mouth, best used in that proportion. A good self check when you feel like you are out there alone.
- When you are trying to hit a high note (goal), don’t reach for it, land on it from above.
- “I can’t, I have rehearsal” – singing in a choir that sounds good and doing anything meaningful with others involves practice and attendance- you need to commit the time and attention that the project needs to do it well.
- Look up, look out. Singing to your shoes does not look like you are praising God. If you are communicating through voice or any other way, it is best to look at those you are communicating with and to behave in a way consistent with the message your are sending.
- Miguel shared how much he appreciates the hospitality and warmth shared by Julie and Marta to everyone in our community, particularly to him when he was first a member.
- Bob R reminded us that prior to Julie’s music ministry, Old First was a “listening congregation” who enjoyed the music of paid soloists. Julie helped us each find our voice, and now the whole congregation sings its praises to God.
- Steve shared the perspective of one who sat on the Official Board when Julie was first called as Music Director, and has been a leader during the entire stint of her ministry.
- Alice read the dedication on the front pages of the remembrance book the congregation is giving to Julie: “You are the embodiment of what the Lord asks of us: ‘“He has told you what is good and what the Lord requires of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly before your God.’ “
- Adam noted that Julie had made him into a singer, something he hadn’t thought himself capable of before joining the choir.
Julie, thank you for your years of service, your faith in God and your ministry among us.
More photos from our celebration of Julie can be viewed here.