Music plays a vital role in worship at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown. Both traditional and modern music is incorporated into services. The church also hosts numerous musical performances throughout the year, such as organ recitals, jazz workshops and chamber music concerts. The Director of Music, Elinor A. Armsby, conducts the 30-voice choir for regular services and special choral programs. Dr. Kim Beamon, Assistant Director of Music, is an accomplished pianist who also plays the recently restored organ.

Listen to the Choir: Down_by_the_River.mp3

The FUMCOG Choir:

Sopranos: Betsey Clark, Caroline Cosline, Beverly Lucas, Rosemaria Martinelli, M'Annette Ruddell, Nancy Hale, Phyllis Strock
Altos: Margaret Baroody, Margaret Fatula, Connie Flood, Cathy Guenzel, Bozena Lamparska, Gladys Shaw, Margaret Veatch

: Bruce Adams, Richard Linck, Mark Smith
Basses: Jonathan Hale Sills, Robert Cruise, David Hill, Barry Lozenski, Howard Scott


During the filming of THE CONGREGATION, Barry Sames served as the church’s Artist-in-Residence, enhancing the music program with jazz services and performances by his own ensemble of visiting musicians.

The following musicians are featured in the jazz performances:

Meg Okura — Violin and Piano
Rick Tate, Jr. — Saxophone
Lee Smith — Bass
Leon Jordan — Drums
Jesse Andrus — Soprano Sax
Daniel S. Kujala — Cello
Mikki Kornegay — Vocal Soloist
Sherry Wilson Butler — Vocal Soloist

Listen to a jazz excerpt: Love_Song_Serenade.mp3


In December of 2002 the First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) welcomed into their homes and their church the 21 members of the Sinikithemba HIV+Choir from South Africa for a musical performance.

The members of this choir have a strong personal bond: they are all HIV-positive. The group shares their name with the HIV/AIDS treatment center where members of the choir met in Durban, South Africa. The choir began as a support group for victims of HIV/AIDS, but soon its members discovered the healing effects of making music. Sinikithemba is also Zulu word meaning "we bring hope."

Sinikithemba’s visit to FUMCOG was part of the eight-city “Give Us Hope” U.S. tour sponsored by the Church World Service and organized by composer Tim Janis. The goal of the tour was to increase awareness of Africa’s AIDS pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that as of January 2004 26.6 million people were living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The music of the Sinikithemba HIV+ Choir and Tim Janis is featured in THE CONGREGATION.

Listen to a choir excerpt: Friendship_with_Jesus.mp3

For further information please visit the following sites:

Church World Service — Founded in 1946, Church World Service is the relief, development, and refugee assistance ministry of 36 Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations in the United States.

You may order a CD of music by the Sinikithemba HIV+ Choir and Tim Janis from the Church World Service web site. AIDS pins made by members of the choir are also
available from the site. Proceeds will benefit the Church World Service’s HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.
Learn more about the work of composer Tim Janis and his “Music with a Mission.”

A visit to the tower is regularly made by one member of the congregation. Janet Tebbel is the church’s carillonneur and has been for 25 years. Choosing to play “Sonata in D Minor” by Domenico Scarlatti, Janet exuberantly hammers out a sophisticated piece of classical music with her whole heart and body. The Shelmerdine Memorial Carillon was installed in 1927 and continues to be a unique and vital part of the church’s life. Janet continues the long tradition of summer recitals heard throughout the Germantown neighborhood.

Carillons evolved in the lowlands of Holland, Belgium and northern France as a means for churches to exhibit their status by bellowing out pre-arranged tunes across the plains. Brothers Pieter and Francois Hemony of the Netherlands cast the first tuned carillon in 1652. They built many subsequent instruments and their work is still the benchmark for carillons today. The carillon experienced something of a revival at the turn of the twentieth century when Jeff Denyn, a Belgian carillonneur, improved the musical qualities of the carillon and played regular concerts at his church in Mechlen. His performances inspired the American author William Gorham Rice, who wrote a series of popular books on the instrument.

A carillon consists of 23 to 77 bells arranged in chromatic sequence. It is played from a large keyboard that is struck with a half-closed hand. Larger bells are connected to foot pedals. The bells weight and shape determine the note and quality of tone. The bells are cast slightly larger than required then finely tuned on a lathe for desired tone. The bells themselves range in size, but can weigh as much as 20 tons and exceed ten feet in diameter.

The carillon that resides in the First United Methodist Church of Germantown’s tower was a memorial gift from two church members and built by the Taylor Bell foundry of Loughborough, England.

Janet Tebbel, carillonneur    Janet has been FUMCOG’s regular carillonneur since 1979. She also plays the carillon at St. Vincent’s Seminary. Tebbel began her carillon studies at the University of Michigan and continued playing at the University of Rochester while receiving her Master of Music degree in organ. She has also studied at the Royal Carillon School in Mechlen Belgium. Tebbel is head of the music department at Rosemont School of the Holy Child. She also serves as the corresponding secretary of the Guild of Carillonneur of North America.


For more information on carillons please visit the following sites:

The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) — includes a history of the Carillon, further explanation of the playing mechanisms and a directory of all carillons in North America.

The World Carillon Federation — a worldwide directory of carillons.

Copyright © 2004 Video Vérité. All rights reserved