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In worship on June 26th, we celebrate our congregation's 79th "Music Sunday": a celebration not only of our community of faith's own vocal and instrumental musicians and music ministries, but also of the power of music to inform, shape, and inspire our life of faith.  As one beloved prayer confesses to God, "All your works, the height and the depth, echo the silent music of your praise."  Especially for Christians of the "free Church" traditions in which The United Church finds its roots (we who are not required to follow a uniform set liturgy), what we sing together often becomes our unofficial common "prayerbook".  Similarly, what we sing together often expresses our commonly-held theologies even more than do the pages of scripture or our official creeds and theological confessions.

Our worship service will feature a constellation of choral anthems sung by our Choir, including a song in Korean with which members of our Korean-speaking community will be joining; piano repertoire from Dr. Emma Shi, our music director, as well as from two of her students; and a number of great hymns for the whole congregation to sing together. 

Following worship, all in-person worshippers are invited to stick around for conversation and refreshments following the service, hosted by the Choir and featuring wonderful fresh strawberry desserts and related treats!

Heritage:  Our 79th “Music Sunday”

In the early 1940s when the church was still located on the main street of Cloverdale, Jean Taylor was a member of the choir. In 1943 she proposed setting aside the last Sunday in June for a special music service before summer recess, a tradition that continues uninterrupted.

Jean became director of the Cloverdale United choir in 1946 continuing through 1966 in our current location.  Jean had a beautiful soprano voice and her three daughters, Shirley, Kit, and Nancy, all sang in the choir.

In 1966, Jean’s daughter Shirley Taylor Barker became the director until her untimely death in January 1978.  Dora Rogers, pitched in for a short while after sister-in-law Shirley’s death until Dave Proznick was hired.  He spent the next 10 years at Cloverdale, followed by Steve Johnston in 1988 and Tim Bailey in 1998.  Each left their special imprint—Dave’s musical children enriched services, Steve brought his jazz band and started the decade of Spring Concerts.  In Tim’s case, his parents Traudle and John became enthusiastic choir members.  In 2008 Tim moved to the United Churches of Langley and Sharon Lauze became Music Director until her resignation in August 2020. Under Sharon’s leadership, the choir expanded to over 30 members including Korean friends from our intercultural ministry.

Beginning September 2020 through mid-August 2021, Dianne Nichols provided worship music along with a group of 8 choir members who practised behind plexiglass shields in the sanctuary to record anthems for weekly online services per Covid protocol. Regular choir rehearsals resumed in September 2021 with the arrival of our new Music Director, Dr. Emma Rui-Xuan Shi.  Masked singing ruled until recent weeks at which time we were all relieved to freely sing again.

The CUC Choir has maintained an active musical life through the years.  Consider seasonal cantatas, singing at Zion Manor, community Christmas carolling, mass choir events such as the one in support of 9-11 victims, gospel music workshops, community Remembrance Day services, weddings, funerals, and memorials—not to mention a decade of thematic Spring Concerts.  In 2019 and 2020 Cloverdale and Langley choirs combined to perform a Christmas cantata on successive Sundays for each congregation.

In addition to all these choir leaders, we also have a long history of organists and pianists: Harold Wooster in the 40s, followed in the 50s by Edna Peck, whose daughter Shirley married Bob Bose; Berna Warne, wife of Rev. Max Warne; and May George. Beth Scott (Leuillier-Rowles) graced Cloverdale for 28 years from 1963-1991.  Pat Patterson played during the 1970s as well.  Grace Gauthier played during the Johnston years as well as singing at church functions.  Tim played both organ and piano during his tenure.  Over the past 14 years, Dianne Nichols and Christine Connal shared accompanying duties as needed.  Now each week we all enjoy the wonderful piano music that Emma plays on our beautiful Bechstein piano.

So today we celebrate the 79th annual Music Sunday, the first live presentation since June 2019 and the first time in 3 years the Choir will be serving Strawberry Shortcake after the service.  

(notes from Judy Cook & Dianne Nichols)

Take part...

As you're able, you can:

  • join us in-person for worship inside the church sanctuary beginning at 10:30 am on Sunday, June 26, 2022
  • join us live online at 10:30 am via Zoom:  Zoom access information can be found here...
  • join us live or later online via YouTube: link to the video here...

The bulletin (order of worship) for the service can be found here...