In our communities, we all need to be mindful about discrimination and ableism. The word able, on its own or as a suffix, is loaded with many positive and negative meanings (capable, teachable, unable, disable). When someone asked me to distill thoughts about my work in music ministry down to one word, I thought for some time…. Then I came up with the word enabler. As a music director, I felt it was my job to enable people to participate in a plethora of ways to make music in the church. Coming up with this single word also helped me solidify and prioritize day-to-day tasks. It helped me to choose hymns, enabling people to sing familiar hymns; it also helped me to teach or encourage the choir to lead new hymns, therefore nurturing the congregation with new melodies and new theology. Enabling in that context meant gathering instrumentalists or vocal soloists who couldn’t commit to ongoing music groups to participate in music-making over the summer. My new one-word job description also meant drawing musical skills out of people and encouraging them, supporting them, and rehearsing with them so they could gift that skill as part of their stewardship—the giving of time and talent. Allowing folks to join church musical groups free of cost enabled anyone from any economic circumstance to participate. Enabling meant starting a second handbell choir, and a second (and then third!) vocal choir when we got several enquiries and we realized that, pedagogically, the music of our senior choir was too difficult for some newcomers. Finding the right soloist for a wedding or funeral shaped the music choices and the mood, enabling the ceremony to fit perfectly together.
May we all be enablers in our work!