Worship and Music

Ed Ferris, Team Leader

Worship and Music
Ed Ferriss is our new representative for the Music and Worship committee for church council in 2013. Please see Ed if you want to volunteer for any roles within Music and Worship or if you have any questions.

To the Youth of Faith: Please consider being an usher or a musician or possibly a reader by talking with Pastor Ron or Ed Ferriss.

In addition, anyone wanting to help decorate our church for the holidays throughout the year, please see Ed.

Join the Choir!

Jay McDowell, Director of Choirs and Music Ministry
The Faith Lutheran Handbell Choir rehearses each Thursday from 6:30pm until 7:30pm and performs approximately once a month from September through May. The choir is comprised of approximately 10-15 members with a variety of musical backgrounds and experience levels.

The Faith Lutheran Chancel Choir rehearses each Thursday from 7:30pm until approximately 8:30pm and performs a weekly Offertory piece from September through May. The chancel choir is comprised of members that are high school age and older with a wide variety of musical backgrounds and experience levels.

The Choirs are open to any/all volunteers interested in contributing to the Music Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church. Anyone interested in joining or seeking more information should contact Jay McDowell at musicdirector@uscfaith.org or by calling the church office at (412) 835.4590. If you are not sure that you are able to commit to the entire season, please speak with Jay and consider joining us anyway.

Interview with Jay McDowell musicdirector@uscfaith.org
Worship and Music
Jay grew up in Western Pennsylvania and attended Mercyhurst College, now Mercyhurst University, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education (voice) and later received a Master of Music in Music Technology (digital music pedagogy) from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition to directing the choirs at Faith Lutheran, Jay currently teaches middle school music in the Bethel Park School District and works as an Independent Distributor for AdvoCare, a premier health and wellness company.

Jay began working at Faith Lutheran in November of 2008. He finds the work to be both challenging and highly rewarding and is thankful for the wonderful musicians in the choirs and the amazing members of the congregation who all work to enhance the music ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Upper St. Clair.

Q: When did you start with Faith Lutheran?

A: My first rehearsal at Faith Lutheran was November 6th, 2008 and first service was that Sunday, November 9th. It was the spring of 2009 that I began to assume the responsibility of organist in addition to director of choirs.

Q: What was it that brought you into looking for a job as choir director in your spare time?

A: There were many factors in this decision. I had been singing with a church choir as part of the professional core for just over a year and, while I thoroughly enjoyed singing with them, I found that I still longed for an opportunity to lead a group and actually, Faith Lutheran found me through a colleague of mine at school who was a member here at the church and approached me about the open position.

Q: Have you noticed a change in the size of the choir since you became director?

A: Not having any firsthand knowledge of the choir prior to my arrival in 2008, I can only speak to the changes I have witnessed over the past five years. The overall membership in the choir has grown while we have lost a few members due to changes in their schedules that do not allow for them to participate at this time, moving away for various reasons, and also to deteriorating health. We have also gained members that have come to us for special services when we are performing a particular piece, ie. – Handel’s “Hallelujah” Chorus, or featuring a specific section of the choir, ie. – a men’s or women’s only piece. Throughout the choir season, the attendance can fluctuate greatly with members traveling and working around other commitments. It is difficult to ask members of the church to commit so much time when there are so many other personal, family, and work obligations to which they must tend. That being said, I am grateful for the members.

Q: Do you feel you have been able to accomplish everything you had hoped for with the choir/bells? Have the resources been available, or do you feel that will take time?

A: I am constantly amazed by the dedication of the choir members and the quality of their work. It is clear that each person not only loves to sing or play the bells, but yearns for a chance to learn about how they can improve even just a little bit.

I am very pleased with what we have accomplished over the past five years. However, I am always attempting to improve the experience for my choir members and for those worshiping in the congregation. One development for the fall of 2013 is that we open each chancel choir rehearsal by singing hymn #885, “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” and closing rehearsal with a piece called “Go Ye Now In Peace” by Joyce Eilers. The hymn at the opening of rehearsal is a great way to warm up our voices and focus on the work at hand while remembering exactly why we are there in the first place. The closing piece is one that I remember the choir singing in church as I was growing up. The words and harmonies are meaningful and beautiful and a make for an incredibly moving way to close the evening and send members home with a sense of peace.

I would love to add a professional core group of singers to help support the choir. This is not because I feel our choir is incapable by any means, but rather, I know the comfort that having someone with a little more confidence can add to a section when rehearsing and performing. This is particularly true for more challenging pieces and tight timeframes.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: The feeling that washes over me when the bell choir plays their hearts out or the chancel choir sings an amazing passage with love and musicality. These moments are frequent and often times occur during rehearsal. There are many times where I cannot help but smile and think to myself that this is absolutely where I am meant to be.