Phillip Brunswick celebrates 20 years at Grace Episcopal Church

This month Grace Episcopal Church recognizes 20 years of good and faithful service of our Choir Master, Phillip Brunswick.  “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Phillip said. “I’ve seen an awful lot of changes!”

Grace will recognize Phillip’s 20th anniversary on Sunday, April 29, with special music at the 10 a.m. service and a reception and program in Albright Parish Hall following the 10 a.m. service. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate Phillip’s wonderful music ministry.

Phillip was raised in Kirkwood and began playing the piano when he was in third grade. He grew up in the Assemblies of God church and says he always knew he wanted to be a musician. Phillip graduated from Kirkwood High School in 1975 and graduated from Fontbonne University in 1983 with a double major in organ and piano performance. He continued his education at Christ Church Cathedral, with postgraduate organ and choral study from 1989 – 1992.

Phillip’s first job was playing the organ at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Overland while he was a college student. After college, his musical career took him to different Episcopal churches and Jewish temples in the St. Louis area. He was confirmed in the Episcopal Church while working at St. Matthews in the late 80s and began working at Grace in 1992. At the time, Grace had an adult choir and children’s choir for kids in 3rd through 6th grade, but nothing for the growing population of younger children. Phillip began a 1st and 2nd grade choir and had 18 students his first year. Two of his students from that first year are now singing in the adult choir and another member has a child in his children’s choir. Other choristers are in seminary and in discernment.

“There’s a satisfaction when you see that light bulb go off – now they’ve got it. Now they understand it. They make that connection between the readings and the music,” said Phillip. “I guess it’s like any teaching job. You see the kids grow up and move on. And the parents tell me what I’ve done and what it’s meant to them to have their kids in choir and how being in the choir has helped form their decisions in life.”

As Choir Master at Grace, Phillip leads the adult choir and three children’s choirs. He also oversees the handbell choirs, which are led by Ella Heigham, and he works closely with our rector in shaping our weekly liturgy. In addition to his work at Grace, Phillip is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the Association of Anglican Musicians and has served on the Music Commission for the Diocese of Missouri.

But the activity he is perhaps most proud of is his role with the Royal School of Church Music. RSCM is a world-wide organization of churches, schools and individuals committed to achieving the best use of church music in worship. Phillip has worked with this educational group for 18 years and is getting ready to run his 15th summer camp for students here at Grace Church. “The friendships that the kids have made throughout the years – they come from all over the country and they keep in touch – it’s amazing!” said Phillip.

After 20 years of service, Phillip still loves church music and finds fulfillment in the challenges of his job. “What I’ve always said about music in church is if the music is written well and the text means something and it’s theologically correct, I’ll use it,” Phillip explained. “Even if people don’t know a hymn – don’t sing it, just read the words, just think about the words. That’s why we do it. Music is just a means of conveying the Gospel.”


One Response to Conveying the gospel through music

  1. Jan McMichael says:

    We are so very blessed to have such a dedicated and talented organist and choir master. Thank you, Phillip!

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