With the summer conference season of 2021 about to conclude its third week, we have welcomed back this week a long-standing and valued conference partner. We began the season as we typically do, with two weeks of youth conferences, and are following with two weeks of Worship and Music conferences, planned and executed by the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, simply and widely known by their acronym, PAM.
Founded in 1970, PAM is a national organization of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for people who are involved in the areas of worship, music, and the arts. Its influence has been felt in just about every Presbyterian congregation and in congregations and faith communities beyond the denomination as well. Yet PAM’s actual roots in Montreat go even deeper, beginning with The Presbyterian Conference on Church Music, a gathering sponsored beginning in 1956 by the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS). In 1969, with an announcement that the Board of Christian Education was being disbanded and the conference on worship and music would no longer be sponsored, leaders of previous Montreat Worship & Music conferences joined together to continue these events and PAM was born.
That’s a legacy of more than sixty years of service to the church. Not even the pandemic could keep PAM entirely out of Montreat. Even though conference content was broadcast online last summer, PAM’s leadership delivered much of that content from here in Anderson Auditorium and surrounding facilities. In Broadway parlance, PAM’s conferences can perhaps stake some kind of claim as the longest-running show in Montreat. (Next week’s conference, by the way, is also offered online. You can still sign up at this link: PAM/Montreat Online.)
Montreat’s relationship with PAM has stood the test of time for a couple of reasons. First, PAM continues to attract a hearty and steadfastly loyal following of supporters and participants, primarily but not exclusively within the PC(USA). Second, in planning the conferences each year, the distinct roles of Montreat staff and PAM conference leadership are clear: we provide the hardware – meeting and hospitality spaces, logistical and other means of support – while the software all comes from the creative, technical, and organizational talents of PAM’s team of staff, leaders, and volunteers, talents which run deep. The excellent programming and experiences one finds at PAM’s gatherings here are one hundred percent a product of their own creation. And yet, as PAM’s president, Kelly Abraham, puts it, “Our amazing working relationship with the conference center continues year after year because the sum of the parts makes it so special for the thousands of people who have attended these conferences over the years.”
Like many national agencies of the church, PAM has worked hard in recent years to build up resources with fundraising activities to supplement and enhance the revenues they generate from conferences and other programs. They’ve even recently launched a 50th anniversary campaign. I encourage you to consider how you might support PAM in ways that advance its work among us. Certainly keep in mind PAM’s mission of serving the whole church in providing “resources, conferences, publications, and a vast network of members who are engaged in worship, music, and the arts all across the United States and beyond.” Remember that their continued vitality is important both to your church and to Montreat. And, remember most of all the joy available to all of us as we live into God’s abundant blessings and the promises surrounding us now and in the future.
Montreat Conference Center