Pine Street Church, an American Baptist congregation, is located in downtown Boulder, Colorado. The congregation, founded in 1872, worships in a beautiful, historic facility built in 1927. Its mission statement reads, “Pine Street Church is an open community of warmth and acceptance. We fully embrace the redeeming teachings of the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul, while at the same time we affirm the courageous leadership of those working for peace and justice outside the Christian tradition. We welcome all without exception.” For Good Friday 2014, we offered a nontraditional concert to our congregation and to the public. Our Pine Street Band, Pine Street Singers (our choir), and an orchestra performed Ray LaMontagne’s complete album “When the Sun Turns Black.” While the album itself was a series of songs LaMontagne wrote as he made his way through the madness of love, the meaning of life, and the challenges we all face, we interspersed the music with readings of Christ’s passion. The concert was well received by all ages, and we had many from the community who heard about the performance through our website, Facebook page and an advertising push in Boulder in attendance. The concert helped people of all ages to see the connection between the sacred and their daily lives.
Project: Performing Before the Aeropagus
In Acts 22, the Apostle Paul was taken before a learned Roman audience gathered at the Aeropagus to explain his religion. Those listening were all “very religious,” but their religious allegiance was to a myriad of gods and beliefs. Paul, using their language and illustrations from their various religions’ beliefs, attracted their attention, and they listened intently as he made his cause for the Christ of Creation.
We feel Boulder is much like the ancient Areopagus. Our city is filled with people who bring many different beliefs—or none at all—from around the world: Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians of all stripes. Additionally, there often seems to be prejudice against any form of Christian faith, whether Protestant or Catholic, evangelical, traditional, or liberal. This caused us to wonder how we might be of like-mindedness with the Apostle Paul’s approach. We also found ourselves embracing Jesus’ constant “shock factor” when speaking to crowds: “You have heard it said, but I say….” Time and again, he left people off-ended from their normative approaches to understanding their individual and corporate realities, religious or not.
Building on our success with our 2014 Good Friday concert, we will offer the same this year, making use of Radiohead’s “Kid A” album. The music and the words are, of course, a dramatic shift from what anyone would normally expect for a Good Friday-related concert, but we advertise our unique approach well, and people seem to come expecting something radically different and wonderfully unique. A portion of a review of “Kid A” best reveals our purpose in choosing this album for this year’s Good Friday concert focus: “Every song on the album suggests that we must understand not only the melody as being mechanical, but that we are introduced to a world which happens to be in a spiritual crisis and in search for sensibility. The theme itself of this album deals with the idea of the rigidity of this world. What the melodies are trying to reveal is a world wherein everyone’s stuck, rigid, and conscious of the need of spirituality.” That a secular source sees our world “in a spiritual crisis” speaks volumes to those of us the Christian community, as our major focus is on the spiritual aspect of life and existence. To make use of a secular artist’s musical commentary to generate a discussion on this crisis seems of great benefit to us at Pine Street Church in a city identified as so very unreligious.
1237 Pine Street
Robert C. Balance, minister
David L’Hommedieu, lay leader