Church Musician Mandate

I received my first appointment as (amateur) church organist in a small reformed church in Baarn, the Netherlands (80 members), when I was 15 years old (still learning). The consistory provided me with a document in which they outlined what they expected of me. As a teenager I didn’t think that this was necessary, but looking back, this document set the stage for my services as church organist ever since. I am thankful that they put this together.

I translated this document in the hope that it may be of service to a reformed church somewhere.

Regulation for the Organists at the Reformed Church at […]

1. Organist(s)

a. The organist(s) will be a member of the Reformed Church at […] or on of its sister churches. 
b. Appointment and dismissal of organist(s) is the responsibility of the consistory. The consistory only appoints organists after having sought advice of professional church musicians. Professional certification will be considered an asset. Dismissal due to not fulfilling the requirements as described in this regulation is only possible after consultation of an independent committee of professionals. 
c. The skills of organist(s) should be as such that they are able to provide musical accompaniment during the worship services in a respectable manner. 
d. The consistory distinguishes between the head organist and any assistant organist(s).

2. Duties

a. The organist(s) provide a respectable accompaniment of the congregational singing during the church services and all other meetings organized by the consistory. 
b. As a rule, the organ music will start a minimum of 10 minutes before the start of the worship service. After the service the organist will play until the worshipers have left the sanctuary. 
c. Organ music before and after the service, as well as during the service, will be in harmony of the character and style of the worship service. 
d. The organists make arrangements themselves for replacement during vacation or sickness by an organist of our own congregation or a sister church. Guest organist will be informed of the regulations for organist(s) as defined by the consistory. 
e. Any decisions by the council relating to the musical aspect of the worship services, or the instruments, will only be made after involvement/consultation of the organist(s).

3. Responsibilities

a. The organist(s) are responsible for the instruments in the church building. If these instruments will be used by others, this will be under the supervision of the organist(s). The organist(s) will handle with discretion in this matter. Organist(s) will be issued a set of church keys and will be responsible for the use of these keys.

4. Weddings and Funerals

The consistory will contact the head organist at least 10 days before a wedding, and at least 3 days before a funeral. The head organist will, in consideration of the policies of the consistory, provide an organist for these services.

5. Evaluation

The consistory (or a delegation) will meet with the organist(s) annually for a performance evaluation. Among others, the value, the importance, and meaning of the role of church organist, and how he/she functions will be reviewed in these meetings.

6. Remuneration and Professional Membership

The remuneration for organists is determined by the consistory, and will be reviewed annually. Membership of a professional organization for organists and active participation in its activities is strongly encouraged. Advancement in professional church music certification is highly encouraged. Expenses for membership, exams, and professional development activities will be reimbursed by the consistory.

7. Other

In all cases where this regulation does not provide, the consistory will make a decision.

Approved by the consistory in its meeting on […]

(Disclaimer: this is *not* meant for hired organists, official organist positions, career organists, churches with choirs, etc. but for reformed churches where they are happy with anyone who wants to play organ or piano, providing them with some direction).

Posted on: October 24, 2017, by :