Church music leaders in the United States pursue two priorities: technical accuracy and fluency in the music-making of their church ensembles, and, including as many volunteers as possible in those same ensembles. At times, the prioritization of technical competence and inclusion conflict, because volunteers whose playing or singing is less than competent seek to be included in church music groups. Facing this ethical dilemma, church music leaders operate ethically; that is, they employ strategies and develop policies based on their understanding of their responsibilities to other people (Warren 2014). During interviews, they verbally espouse an ethic of deontology, but in practise, they operate according to an ethic of care. Leaders who primarily promote inclusion focus on their duty to care for volunteer musicians, whereas leaders who primarily promote technical competence focus on their duty to care for worshipping church congregants. Based on interviews conducted with twenty-five music leaders from (predominantly White Protestant and Catholic) churches in four states of the Unites States of America, this article provides a detailed analysis of the activities of church music leaders, activities which have not been previously illuminated in scholarly or practitioner literature. In so doing, it contributes to the growing literature on ethics in Christian congregational musicking.

Author Biography

Dr. Heather MacLachlan is Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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