I have a long list of things I’ve wanted to say to you, years of gathered thoughts about your music ministry. I do not exaggerate when I say it was always the most important part of my worship at All Saints, the trigger for God Loves Me tears, I’m Not Alone tears, Transformational tears, Incandescent tears. You have given me peace, well-being and joy through your music. It has changed my life.
I did mean it when I said, in my next life I want to be a person of excellent voice so that I might sing in the Canterbury or Coventry Choirs. I’ve even thought that I might buy a spot, in the interim between this and the next life should there be one, in the columbarium so that I could stay close to all the joyful noise.
I’d always thought, if I marry, when I pass, some other major life event, I’d want you there standing guard, knowing that whatever sacrament, you’d know I’d want more music than words, and put forth the most profound sounds, stirring us all to our depths.
So many experiences come to mind over your and my many years at All Saints: my embarrassment over thinking I was introducing you to this wonderful new composer I’d discovered, Morton Lauridsen, not realizing you not only knew the music, you also know him personally, the National Medal of Arts awardee and most frequently performed choral arts composer in modern history. I’ve loved being introduced to all the magical and moving foreign hymns you’ve incorporated into our worship.
During the service with Archbishop Desmond Tutu following the first democratic election in South Africa, the choirs sang the South African National Anthem. You even sent me the music to the anthem, one of your many kindnesses over the years. I have wept every time we sang the Central American, I think, hymn about being only me in my small boat…with just my love for Jesus to offer. I have also wept each year at the end of the Good Friday service when you rang the bell 33 times to signify the years of Christ’s life. I have laughed at your stories about Lucy; cried for you when she died; celebrated you when you married.
The members of the choirs say that you have lived your life with them with love, humor and grace. No one in the entire congregation has ever had less than high praise for all you’ve done for us. I think, since we are actually a church community made of people with opinions and foibles and personalities, this is pretty damned remarkable!
So, let me express both profound gratitude for your time at All Saints, and profound sadness that your time there has come to an end.
With great love and admiration, and all good wishes for happiness in your new life,
Margo GrovesMargo Grovesvia email
There are no adequate words! but here goes anyway!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, with every fibre of my being, for the amazing person, musician, staff colleague, inspiration you have been for so long. I am in awe of your ongoing journey over the years, how you opened yourself to growth, often with great courage, and translated your growth into your music and shared that with hundreds and thousands of people.
Your work and music brought an aching joy, tenderness, delight, tears, laughter, quivers down my spine and raised the hairs on my neck, at different times in different ways.
I loved to watch you conduct and loved being on the chancel to hear and see you up close. I loved to go into church to listen to you practice and bring peace to my sometimes troubled soul …
Your spirituality engaged your whole being and flowed out into the choirs, music and fabric of All Saints. I am forever richer and enriched by all I experienced from you. May your next season be as amazingly gifted, inspired and growthful! I look forward to it!
Abundant blessings, much love, Wilma.Wilma Jacobsenvia letter
I love you James Walker!!!!
You have blessed my life and taught me things you will never know. Peace, love and sunshine in all your new endeavors,
Love, CathyCathy Keigvia email
After watching and reading that awesome homily I have only one thing to relate. That is, without fear of contradiction, there are 1000s of souls and saints who stood with each of those in your congregation and behind you in ministry who rejoice because you were there.
DavidDavid Dehnervia Facebook
Thanks for sharing this. I especially enjoyed reading your farewell
message. But I also wanted to tell you of something of which you might not
I am aware that ASC streams its services. This was brought to my attention
by a very dear friend, whom you may know. Bev has been suffering from
cancer for the past several years. So many of us have held her up in prayer
and she acknowledges how much those prayers have helped her in the dark
days of treatment.
But ASC streaming services have been her lifeline. She downloads the
worship bulletin each week and watches/worships with you in her home. Your
music has lifted her elevating her spirits from week to week. When you
announced your retirement, she was understandably shaken, because your
music has meant so much to her. I know she will continue to watch and be
moved by the music.
I know many have expressed their appreciation to you in these past few
months, but I wanted to thank you for what your work has meant to my dear
friend. Your music has touched people in ways you are not even aware.
God bless you with many more years and ways to serve.Peter Batesvia email
James, you’ve been such an important part of my life, I don’t want to lose you. However, I won’t cry because it’s over, but smile.Lu Wennekervia email
Dear, dear James,
And so here I am, all these years later, a more complete Elizabeth for having come to sing at All Saints. Your genuine care, support, encouragement, desire to make each note better and more musical than the last — all in an amazingly supportive and positive fashion has led me to places and performances I had never dreamed possible!
From the Gospel repertoire to the Renaissance pieces at Tenebrae, each has been so very special in its own wonderful way.
Tonight I am so thankful for the gift of music you have so generously shared with me, tearful that it has come to an end after all these years, and so very hopeful that our paths will continue to cross in so many ways… I do “get” it and know that you will take this next step knowing you have me, and I am certain the rest of us in Coventry at All Saints cheering, supporting and watching with great anticipation all you are going to do!
Dear friend, THANK YOU, both through music and conversation that you’ve shared with me over these 26 years. It has been a blessing in my life, and I am a better person because of it!
With love and appreciation,
ElizabethElizabeth Championvia letters
Words cannot express how incredibly grateful I am for this past year together. I am saddened to see you leave, but so extremely happy for you. This has been such an extraordinary year and so much of that is because of your wonderful leadership and faith in me. I have accomplished so much this year and attempted so many new things, and for that I will be forever thankful.
You will be deeply missed, but your presence clearly resonates with so many people at AS. I will do my all to help uphold the standard of excellence and specificity you demand.
Thank you again, and I look forward to when we can work together more in the future! Best of luck and best wishes.Kelci Hahnvia letters