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  • Dear James,
    Congratulations and Thank You for inspiring, meaningful and joyous worship for so many!!!…Past, Present & Future!
    After George Regas retired, I didn’t feel I had a place at ASC until my daughter became a Minisinger. However, the one constant, welcoming element that always brought me joy and made me feel at home was the amazing music!
    My family appreciates your brilliant talent, leadership and making the music the one element that CYF committee agreed upon when discussing a new rector after Ed … DON’T MESS WITH OUR AMAZING MUSIC!
    Best to you — time to have fun!

    Julie Fladvia letter
  • Dear James,
    After listening to your sermon this morning, it seems as if you also had something to do with the message on this card (“Gratitude is the heart’s way of celebrating kindness”).
    With a heart full of gratitude for your many years of service, and it was a deep call to ministry.
    You have shared your God given talents, your beautiful kind and compassionate heart.
    May you be in God’s Spirit to lead you to wonderful discoveries, openness and awareness of your goodness.
    You may be out of sight, but we all are a Communion of Saints bound in love and prayer.

    Anna Davalosvia letter
  • Dear James:

    At last I am corralling my thoughts and writing to you to express what you already know is profound gratitude for the way you have given of yourself so generously as our choir director without peer. It has been hard to know where to start, especially because I have over 20 years of gratitude built up, but here are some of the attributes I came to appreciate so much.

    Gentleness in correcting mistakes “one person in .…”;
    Setting high standards and evoking, rather than demanding, our best efforts;
    On occasion, sharing your frustration and disappointment in us, but always in the context of your love for and faith in us;
    Showing us the difference that listening to each other – while LOOKING UP – can make;
    Revealing your superior and unique sense of humor;
    Giving us time to laugh together;
    Appreciating each of us as an individual;
    Exposing us to new, varied, and unusual repertoire (along with chestnuts, of course);
    Being a person we could turn to for pastoral care and providing a place where we could care for each other;
    Giving us words to prepare for transitioning to new leadership.

    Also, I can’t tell you how many times I have thought of something you said or did that increased my appreciation of music that Steve and I were hearing in other venues.

    I am looking forward to building in new ways upon all the things I’ve learned from you. I’m sure that it is possible that another single person can embody all the attributes I’ve listed, but no person will ever package and deliver them in the same wonderful way that you do. It will be oh-​so-​strange without you there at first, but even when it is no longer strange, the blessings you have bestowed on me, our family, and Canterbury Choir will not be forgotten.

    Thank you, James,

    Sandy Sharp

    Sandy Sharpvia email
  • James Walker, today with you at the piano for our UUCCSM Choir retreat, I felt so at ease. It’s like you can read my mind!

    Dr. Zanaida RoblesDirector of Music, Unitarian Universalist Community Church, Santa Monica
  • Hi James!

    First of all, congrats on your retirement, or return to freelance music making!

    I was at the concert. What an amazing evening! 
    The choirs were stunning, as always.
    The program book was wonderful.
    The spoken parts were terrific. It was all just right.

    I want to try to tell you what your work has meant to me.

    I first became aware of your ministry at All Saints at the service for ACDA in the mid- nineties. “In the beginning”, Bloch, Bach, etc. I had just started directing at Irvine Presbyterian, and I was planning the services. I used specific pieces (though not the Copland! Ordinary churches don’t sing that piece!) from that service ever since.

    But even more important, the ideas in that service, especially how prayer and song were integrated seamlessly, became a template for services in Irvine. Your attention to detail was an example of excellence and love. That service was like a workshop in how it’s supposed to be done. My prayer was that I could live up to that standard.

    Then, years later when I had the privilege of working at All Saints for awhile, I saw the same results but then could see more of the process. I got to be part of the community you had shaped. I saw how you loved them and they loved you. I saw a model of church choir rehearsal that refused to compromise musical excellence for excellence of community, or vice versa.

    You showed that you can have both, and that anything less is cheating God, the music, the musicians, the congregation, and the city. Every choir I have led since then has sung Day by Day, and ended rehearsals with the prayers.

    To be in the audience at your last concert was a privilege ( a word I’m using a lot!). I don’t know when I’ve ever felt a more palpable connection between artists and audience.
    Also, I’ll never forget your segment of the Bach marathon at St Cyril’s. I was sitting in the back. The electricity in the church was fantastic. It was fun to be part of that crowd as we erupted in joy and gratitude.

    You genuinely can thrill your listeners! I can’t wait to hear you play a recital again.

    I hope you’re enjoying yourself these days. May the peace of Christ be with you.

    David Clemensen via email
  • Dear James,

    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 Groves

    Margo Grovesvia email
  • Dear James,
    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, Cathy

    Cathy Keigvia email