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My Friend Ann by Chip Handrich

One never really knows how people will react to a new Worship Pastor until his or her ministry has begun in a new location. Such was my case, and although I had a pretty good idea that I would fit in and work well with everyone, there was still that bit of apprehension. Since the organist would be the person with whom I would work most closely I wondered how we would get along? I know that all of you who have known Ann for these many years realize that my concerns were totally unfounded as I soon discovered. Within seconds of meeting Ann for the first time, her warmth and friendly smile assured me that we would work well together.

I soon realized that there was much more to Ann than just her sweet spirit.

Ann is the ultimate servant. Her help was invaluable in the process of learning all of the new things that I needed to know in this new ministry. She has never insisted on her own way, but has constantly asked, “Is this ok?” when presenting an idea…and it has always been ok. I also became aware of all of the things that Ann did to make the worship ministry run efficiently.  Ann scheduled the many pianists whom we are blessed to have, secured instrumentalists when needed, as well as organized and conducted the orchestra, among other duties. Many times, she has had just the right suggestion for a hymn to sing, or an accompaniment that was perfect for a particular congregational hymn. She is the finest organist at hymn accompaniment with whom I have worked. She spent a great amount of time making sure her registrations fit each stanza. At other times, Ann incorporated strings, brass or woodwind ensembles to enhance her hymn accompaniments, all for the enrichment of the congregation’s singing experience. Others have said that Ann has helped to create a singing congregation unafraid to sing (in parts) on A Capella stanzas, and I agree.

It has also been said that perhaps we have taken Ann and her worship gifts for granted. No doubt, we have, but Ann has never wanted accolades. She has served quietly, faithfully, teaching, encouraging, and always challenging others to offer their very best. She leaves an indelible mark on the musical life and reputation of Second Baptist Church.

In her 40 years as the organist here at Second Baptist Church, Ann has worked with three ministers of music. It has been my great privilege to be the third and to have been able to serve with Ann this last year. I, like many of you, don’t quite know what I will do without her. It is hard for any of us to imagine anyone else in her position. However, things don’t last forever. Ann began her tenure here after the thirty-five-year tenure of Lydia Lovan. No one will ever be able to “replace Ann” but I believe that she will continue to support and encourage us in whatever ways she is able as we move forward in our rich musical tradition.

Thank you, Ann, for all the ways you’ve been a friend to me and for all the ways you’ve ministered to this faith community. We wish you all the best and we’re so very thankful that we don’t have to say goodbye! May God give us many years of continued friendship together.

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