Good afternoon, dear friends,
After 3 1/2 years, and on Inauguration Day of all days, Phillip has re-discovered how to access this blog! He & Stephen had made efforts the past couple of years to get in and start posting again, but simply could not access the site. Here's a brief explanation, which will also help you understand the slower pace of Liturgy Solutions these past few years, as well as our new effort to revitalize the site:
* In 2012, Phillip was dismissed from the cantorate at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois. He and the pastors publicly affirmed that his firing was not due to immoral life, false doctrine, or any incompetence with his duties. Phillip had had a breakdown under work stress, after which the head pastor cited personality conflicts and a desire for a new person in the position. The congregational leaders then opted to follow this pastor's lead rather than to attempt to negotiate conflict resolution or otherwise improve the situation.
* By the grace of God, Phillip was blessed to serve the following year at Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Tinley Park, where he made many friends and planned on staying to build on the excellent legacy of church & school music left by his predecessor there, Carl Lisius. However, the direction of the pastoral leadership was toward forms of "modern" or "contemporary" worship, with even the traditional services minimizing sung liturgy, and so when another call came Phillip decided it best for the church to accept an opportunity to serve where his vision for worship was in line with both the pastor and the elders.
* While he first had access to the Fine Tuning blog while in Oklahoma, that access was lost when his wife and family joined him in Oklahoma after the Magnesses sold their house in Illinois. Between expired emails, new computers, and forgotten passwords, we just couldn't get in! Stephen had not posted in a while himself, having moved from full-time church work to teaching at a Roman Catholic high school in the Bronx, and also could not locate our credentials to get onto the site.
Fast forward now to today, of all days, when, after considering the doctrine of vocation and President Trump's point in his inaugural address about a nation's greatness depending on the success of its citizens to freely pursue their dreams, Phillip decided to try to get into Fine Tuning again. Behold, it was a success!
We are happy to report that today, almost four years later, by the grace of God, both Phillip and Stephen are doing well. Stephen is having a great year with his choirs and classes at Monsignor Scanlan High School in New York, and has new compositions in the GIA catalog. His daughters are doing amazing things in music, and he continues to address the church on matters of music at various conferences. Phillip and his family are enjoying life in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he now serves at Immanuel Lutheran Church. He continues to serve as "cantor-at-large" for the spiritual renewal retreats of DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Council, and also his teaching of the French edition of the LSB, Liturgies et Cantiques Luthériens. He will be in Togo in March to lead a couple of workshops and also to play for worship services for the annual convention of 14 confessional francophone Lutheran churches to be held in Dapaong. He also served as chief musician for the 2013 and 2016 LCMS conventions.
So much for why we disappeared here and what we've been doing. So why revitalize the site? The brief history outlined above gives a hint of the reason: vocation. Throughout all the trials and in both blessings & woes, our hearts and hands and voices have been fixed on the Lord's song. God has been good to us; how can we keep from singing? And so with a new day for our country, it is fitting that we begin a new day at Liturgy Solutions. Let us know what you might like us to write about, and how you are doing. We'll see you on FaceBook, but we'd love to see you hear to. We look forward to doing more of what we love most: encouraging, nurturing, and enlivening the art of music in service to the Word of God.
May His peace be with you this new year and always!
Your Friends at Liturgy Solutions