The Writings of Jane Burke
Minister of Fine Arts
The Remarks, January 30, 2007
Most of the major turning points in my life have arrived in ten-year spans. In 1976, I discovered the world of drama (officially). I had certainly had my dramatic moments before that, but nobody paid me for them. Then, there I was at Hunter Hills Theatre in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, playing the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, Gen. Matilda B. Cartwright in Guys and Dolls, and some old maid in Dark of the Moon. I learned lots of things during that - my 20th - summer. I was hooked.
Ten years later, I moved to Atlanta to sing in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra chorus. I had no job and moved down here one week before symphony chorus auditions. I spent eight wonderful years in the ASO chorus with Robert Shaw. Got to tour all over Europe. I found my way to Saint Mark. I was hooked.
Another ten years passed and I was graduating from Emory and Candler with a Master’s of Sacred Music. The Olympics were on their way to Atlanta. By then, I was the interim music director at Saint Mark. Later that year I joined the ministry at Chamblee First UMC. I was hooked.
Yet another ten years have passed. (If you’ve been counting, that makes me 50 - well, it’s really 51.) And here I am, back home. I never really left Saint Mark - I couldn’t. Of all the turning points in my life, this one is the most exciting. It is a joy to worship with you each week - to sing until we rattle those magnificent windows, to make music with such a fabulous bunch of warm, caring folks who make up the Chancel Choir (they sing OK too), to work and laugh and cry with this superb staff. (How many church staff members both work and worship together? We are blessed!) I thank you for welcoming me back with open hearts and arms.
Here’s a favorite stanza of an old Shaker hymn that I’ve adopted as my own:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart -
a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing?
Within these walls is a love, an energy, a light that will not be extinguished. God is here—in each of you. How can we keep from singing! I am hooked.