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PAM Worship and Music Conference goes the virtual route

Organizers plan to stream as many events as possible June 21-26

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — After many hours of conversation and lots of prayer, Presbyterian Association of Musicians has decided to move its annual conference that was to have been held at Montreat Conference Center during the last two weeks of June to a virtual conference June 21-26.

According to PAM executive director Kelly Abraham, safety factors were the primary concern for making the change.

“We all hoped that by June it would be safe to gather in person,” she said.  “But we just don’t know. It changes daily.”

It also became apparent that if PAM, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, was unable to host the event this year, it would not recover financially, as 65 percent of its annual operating budget comes from conference revenue.

“If we want to be here in the next 50 years, we need to bring you something this year to sustain us,” Abraham said.

So PAM plans to present a revised virtual conference from Montreat, as long as it is safe to do so and it meets all local guidelines. PAM will broadcast live as much as possible during the virtual conference. Everything offered — worship, seminars and conferences — will also be recorded and available online. Because so many people are working from home during the day, the conference’s daily worship services will be held in the evening.

“We believe this virtual conference is a way for us to expand our geographic reach,” Abraham said.

Because the conference is virtual, PAM has lowered its registration rates to $175 for adult members and $100 for children. Organizers said they hope this will make it possible for those who haven’t yet registered to attend. PAM also hopes those who have already registered will consider donating the difference in registration cost to help sustain PAM’s operation and offset expenses incurred for the conference. Those early registrants can apply the difference to PAM’s 2021 music and worship conferences.

“As partners with Montreat we’re committed to giving a percentage of registration revenue back to them so that they may sustain their operation in our absence,” Abraham said.

In preparing for its 50th anniversary worship and music conference, PAM selected “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” from Hebrews 12:1 as its theme.  Abraham thought of how fitting this image was when she reached out to the first president of PAM, Adele McKee, hopeful that she could come, only to find out she wouldn’t be able to be there in person. Now that the conference is virtual, McKee will be able to participate.

While sad to be unable to gather together in person this summer, Abraham said PAM is viewing this as a gift, hoping to gratefully respond with worship services and needs that are different now.

“If we can’t change together, we have no business being here for the next 50 years,” Abraham said.

PAM has modified the conference format from what was originally planned. Organizers believe the event will be what the church needs now, in 2020: a formative and collaborative experience of worship and music together, with God and neighbor, that nurtures relationships and creates community virtually.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to draw the circle wider, to bring folks from all over the country to the conference — and to bring it to those of you who haven’t been able to attend for a number of years for a variety of reasons,” Abraham said.

Watch PAM’s 2020 Worship and Music Conference announcement here.

 See the revised virtual conference schedule.

 Click here to begin the registration process.

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