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Pastor's Corner

Ministry Spotlight

After the pandemic shutdown, Harbor's Music Ministries are ready to come back in a consistent way this summer. Read below about each opportunity to get involved.

Photo of our choir at its last live performance in Feb. 2020 just before shut down. This was at the MLK Jr. Celebration Service held at Downey Memorial.

Read below about each of three opportunities to be involved with music this upcoming July. And then, please enjoy a reflection and music video history from Minister of Music Lauren Graham.


Song-Writers Workshop

Sundays, 5-7pm

This will be a NEW expansion of our music ministries. During this time each Sunday, please join in the sanctuary for a time to create, learn and collaborate with your fellow musicians and music lovers. No previous music talent, skill or knowledge is necessary.

So is this a group for you? A couple of questions may help answer this:

  1. Have you ever wanted to engage with the process of creating music but don't know where to start?

  2. Do you have a talent for writing poems or beautiful words and want help setting them to music?

  3. Are you a musician who has a great ear but wants to learn more about practical music theory?

  4. Does it sound fun to jam, play and experiment with other musicians once per week?

  5. Are you already a song-writer and you want to work on your pieces with other musicians and writers?

  6. Do you want to learn more about other instruments from the musicians who play them to write better arrangements for them?

  7. Is it fun for you to be around people who are creating while you work on other projects such as drawing, writing, homework, crafting for inspiration?

If any of those questions sparked a "yes" or "maybe" then this would be a space for you!

As we kick this off, we will find what format works best for the group but what you can expect to start is below. If you just want to attend one half and not the other that is okay.



Practical Music Theory

We will be learning and reviewing Music Theory during this time from the very basics up to functional gig-band playing standards to get you playing and writing quick! We will study formal music notation and theory, sheet music, lead sheets and more.
This will feel more like a classroom setting but no tests - promise.


Song-Writing Workshop

This will be the time for you to work on your solo-projects, collaborative works with other musicians or to just experiment. There will be small music challenges each week to help each of us develop our writing process, whether that be music writing, lyrics or both.

More details to come over the upcoming weeks but if already interested, please sing up for the first day using the event link below. First day to meet will be Sunday, July 16th!


Sacred Sounds Choir

Thursdays, 6:30-7:45pm

After a three-year hiatus from in-person rehearsals and about a year-and-a-half of complete sabbatical, the music team and community are ready for our traditional choir - Sacred Sounds - to start meeting again. Rehearsals will be held in the sanctuary every Thursday for about an hour and 15-minutes. True formal sheet music will be used but don't let that scare you! You do not need to have any prior knowledge or skills or talents to participate, just a love for music and singing.

The first pieces that are up to work on will be Amazing Grace and How Can I Keep From Singing? Most of our choir choices are arrangements of already beloved hymns so you can be sure to be working on familiar music.

Many of our community are new and never got to hear our choir perform live - at the end of this email there is a whole walk down memory lane featuring videos of past performances for all of us to enjoy.

Please reach out with any questions and more to come as we approach our first rehearsal date - July 13th!


Praise Band

Thursdays, 8-9pm

Praise Band is recruiting! For those in our community who want more live performance experience or just want to engage with Sunday Morning music in a more hands on way - the Praise Team is inviting anyone to join us during our rehearsals directly following Choir.

We have chosen 10 songs to work on during Thursday evenings: some new and most familiar. Feel free to bring your instrument or voice to these times and if any of these 10 songs are programmed for a Sunday morning - feel free to hop on stage and join!

There will never be any pressure or expectation to perform live on Sundays. That will be determined by your comfort level but we encourage you to come play with us on Thursdays no matter what!


Reflection from Minister of Music Lauren

I came to Harbor as an Alto Section leader in January of 2015 at the request of my then Grad Assistant at Cal State Fullerton Andy Ball. Andy had been the choral director at that time for almost seven years and I was the first hired section leader to date. In 2018, I was invited to step into the role of Music Director - something I had never envisioned or expected. I have my degree in Music but specializing in vocal performance, not conducting, education, piano or anything else that I believed I needed to feel worthy of this opportunity. But, something urged me to say "yes" even though I didn't feel prepared for it.

As much as the Music Ministry has been reshaped by me through the new directions I have taken it in - some good and some that led to dead ends (ha) - this role has reshaped me equally in return. I no longer believe that you need to have a piece of paper that proves your right to take on certain roles or enter certain spaces. All you need are the passion, support and courage to step in and grow into the role. Reviewing many of our featured performances below reminds me of my own personal journey at Harbor and has me in ever-expanding gratitude for this community.

2018 - Christmas Cantata - Chancel Choir

Pre-Pandemic, during the Advent Season, the Children's Pageant and Choir would take over one of the Sunday Sermons. The Choir Cantata each year was a mini-choral concert around 40-min that would use music with a theme or message. I was instated as Music Director in October of 2018 and had only 6-weeks to put this together. Stressed was an understatement - I felt like if this didn't go well, then my own fears of not being the right person for the role would be proven right.

Not only was I proven wrong, but our Harbor community showed up in force to make this our LARGEST choir for the Choir Cantata to date. I'm pretty sure the choir outnumbered the congregation that Sunday but I will never forget that moment looking up from the podium with shaky hands and uncertainty to see all the smiling faces looking back at me with the silent message of, "We're in this together." <3

2019 - Fly Away Medley - Chancel Choir

Flash forward to August of the following year, we had hired Macy that Spring as our new Accompanist and recruited a few new consistent members - I think it was one of the first times our Tenor and Bass sections outnumbered the Altos and Sopranos. At that time, our choir performed every single Sunday so we spent a majority of time learning music to prepare and this one was a FEAT for us. A medley called "I'll Fly Away" that we had worked on for months. Very proud moment for our choir and one of the first times I remember getting up without any imposter syndrome, just a feeling of fun with our growing music family. Also, first time my own mother sang with our choir.

2019 - Deck the Hall - Tone Chime Choir

I just had to include this brief moment in our music history - the Tone Chime Choir. We were gifted temporary use of a tone-chime set and our youth were able to play a few pieces on them. Another opportunity to learn something new! (If anything, please just watch for little Willow on the right diligently making sure she comes in on her right note! <3)

2020 - I Believe

Just as our choir and music community were settling into our yearly rhythm - Pandemic hit. The church responsibly shut down but as a Music director - me and the team had to get creative on how to serve our community when we couldn't be in the same room. This is where our Tech and Music Ministries first merged to create Virtual Choral pieces. And by Tech Team I mean Tyler Deans who was instrumental in getting Harbor virtual during this time and Justin who straddled both sides as musician and audio engineer. These were rehearsed virtually, recorded, edited separate and took a monumental amount of time and coordination between all involved.

This piece in particular was one that the choir connected deeply with- our own version of a "Ploughshare Prayer" piece. The lyrics are from a poem written by a victim of the Holocaust in combination with the music arrangement resonated with each of us. During Pandemic, our community said goodbye to Priscilla Amerian who had been part of our choir as our "Lady Tenor." She listed this song as one of her favorites before passing and so our choir dedicated this performance to her.

2021 - Easter Music

By Easter 2021, the Tech and Music communities had gotten into such a good rhythm with this new way, that we went ALL out for Easter Sunday and revealed four (4) special music videos for the season.

  • "I Love You Lord" - the choir wrote original lyrics based off each week's sermon message and chose non-traditional instruments together to create an arrangement as we explored "Texture and Words." This was also the first time we had choreography! I do have to mention that the sunrise you see was filmed by Tyler who got up and set up to capture it all in real time - always amazed at his dedication to the art!

  • "Lift Every Voice and Sing" - Justin and Tyler collaborated to create a fun visual to show off Justin's arrangement and skills on an instrument we rarely see him play - trumpet.

  • "Hallelujah" - There had been a tradition each Easter to perform a version of Leonard Cohen's timeless song "Hallelujah" but with changed lyrics to tell the Easter story. After performing this for four-years with the same arrangement, Justin and I wanted to do something a little different. Justin and I both have a great love for a genre of music called EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and have always wanted to find a way to incorporate it into sacred music authentically. We took advantage of our virtual stage and added digitally created sounds to show off Justin's skills on what is a new instrument for our generation - a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). This skill of his is what made ALL of our choral videos possible as he was the one to audio engineer every single recorded track to ensure it sounded like our full choir. I had the chance to do my own vocal part writing and harmonize with myself which was a challenging but invaluable experience.

In the video, you see images of this audio program in the back to show just how detailed and time intensive this work is - so grateful to have such a talented team!

  • "Jesus Died on Calvary's Mountain" - I am lucky that our music team and staff are all as talented and skilled as they are. We would not be able to do so much so well and quickly without all the time and financial investment each of them have put into their own personal music careers and journeys. I always look forward to working with and creating with each of them. It's rare we get to perform with each other so we took this chance to record a four part version of a favorite Lenten song.

Shortly after this Easter season, we re-opened in Summer of 2021 and attempted to restart music only to shut down again due to COVID spikes in early 2022. That year, we participated in the virtual MLK service and then officially re-opened last Summer.

Since then, its been about all of us figuring out what Music at Harbor looks like and it has been a topsy-turvy ride but finally, the time feels right to reconvene and get back to making music together in community. We look forward to creating with you and I am excited to see where we go in the next five-years.

Thank you for reading!

If you wish to continue reading our Summer Newsletter in the recommended reading order, please click on the next post shown below in the Related Posts section.


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