“Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.” — From John Wesley’s Select Hymns, 1761
Music and Worship in the Life of the Church
Music is an integral part of life here at Baker Memorial UMC. The church has a strong tradition of music, offering choirs, bell choirs and instrumental ensembles for all ages.
Our 9am Traditional Service regularly features the Chancel Choir, performing anthems from the great tradition of sacred choral music, Renaissance through contemporary living composers. In addition, the service typically includes one of several other choirs/ensembles to enhance the musical experience in worship the Chancel Bell Choir, Men’s Ensemble, Cherub Choir and various Instrumental Ensembles. In addition, our organist Mark Edwards, offers preludes, postludes and offertories. His repertoire is taken from the great wealth of organ literature from all periods of music.
Our 10:30am Jazz Worship Service includes music offered by the Kingdom of Groove. Kingdom of Groove is a quartet of professional musicians dedicated to offering soulful and inspiring music played in a Jazz idiom. You will hear traditional hymns along with a wide selection of sacred and even some Jazz standards played during the service. Enjoy selections from the Kingdom of Groove repertoire every Sunday. Listen to music samples from the service:
Track 1 Track 2 Track 3
Throughout the year the Church is home to many concerts by various ensembles. Visit our Upcoming Musical Events page for the latest offerings.
Music Ensembles | Rehearsal Times
Cherub Choir, Director: Melissa Arndt. The Cherub Choir is for children age 3 through 2nd grade. Cherub Choir rehearses from 10:10 to 10:30 each Sunday morning. They sing at the 9:00 a.m. Service on the 1st Sunday of the month, on Christmas Eve at the 4:00 p.m. service and on Music Sunday. Click here to see rehearsal and performance schedule.
Chapel Choir, Director: Jeff Hunt. The Chapel Choir is for boy’s age 3rd grade to 8th grade, Chapel choir rehearses from 5:00 to 5:30 each Wednesday afternoon. They sing at the 9:00 a.m service on the 2nd Sunday of the month, on Christmas Eve at the 4:00 p.m. service and on Music Sunday. Click here to see rehearsal and performance schedule.
Wesley Singers, Director: Kathy Olivarez. The Wesley Singers is for girl’s age 3rd grade to 8th grade. Wesley Singers rehearses from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 each Wednesday afternoon. They sing at the 9:00 a.m. service on the 4th Sunday of the month, on Christmas Eve at the 4:00 p.m. service and on Music Sunday. Click here to see rehearsal and performance schedule.
Men’s Ensemble, Directors John Clarke and Jeff Hunt. The Men’s Ensemble is for men. The ensemble rehearses on Sunday mornings from 8:00- 8:30 twice a month. They sing at the 9:00 a.m. service on the 1st Sunday of the month and on Music Sunday. Click here to see rehearsal and performance schedule.
The Chancel Choir, Director, Jeff Hunt. The Chancel Choir is for high school age through adult. The Chancel Choir rehearses on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. It sings each Sunday morning at the 9:00 am service, on Christmas Eve at the 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. services, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday worship services and on Music Sunday. Click here to see rehearsal and performance schedule.
Chapel Bell Choir, Director, Kathy Olivarez. The Chapel Bell Choir is for boys and girls age 3rd through 8th grade. The bell choir rehearses at 4;30-5:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoons. It plays at the 9:00 a.m. service on the 4th Sunday of the month, on Christmas eve at the 4:00 p.m. service and on Music Sunday. Click here to see rehearsal and performance schedule.
The Chancel Bell Choir, Director Rob Murphy. The Chancel Bell Choir is for high school through adult. The Chancel Bell Choir rehearses on Wednesday evening from 6:00-6:30. It plays at the 9:00 a.m. service on the 2nd Sunday of the month, on Christmas eve at the 8:00 and 10:00 service and on Music Sunday. Click here to see rehearsal and performance schedule.
Instrumental Ensembles: Baker Church has a number of instrumental ensembles that play each month. Children and Adults are encouraged to share their talents in worship. The coordinator of the ensembles is Erik Swenson.
Kingdom of Groove: This highly skilled ensemble of professional musicians provides music at or 10:30 service. The ensemble focuses on a Jazz idiom in its musical expression playing traditional hymns in a jazz style and offering jazz gathering and sending music. In addition each week features a gifted singer to help lead the congregational singing and offer a solo.
Music Ministry Staff
Jeffrey Hunt is Director of Music at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church where he leads a very active music program. Jeff directs the Chancel choir, Baker Youth Ensemble and the Chapel choir. Jeff is founder and director of the St. Charles Singers, a professional choir with its home in St. Charles. The singers regularly perform at Baker Memorial Church, St. Michaels Church in Wheaton and in many venues in Chicago and abroad. In 2010 the St. Charles Singers and Metropolis Chamber Orchestra began a journey of performing all of W.A. Mozart’s sacred choral music over a multi year period. Jeff is an adjunct faculty member at Elgin Community College and is the Illinois Chapter of ACDA’s chair of Music and Worship. Jeff earned a B.M from Taylor University and a M.M in Choral Conducting from Northwestern University.
Mark Edwards is principal organist at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church and maintains a private piano, organ, and harpsichord studio in Wheaton. He holds degrees from Eastman School of Music and Indiana University. Mark has studied organ with Helen Quig, and harpsichord and organ with Roger Sherman. He has performed in master class for Harald Vogel, Gustav Leonhardt, Paolo Crivellaro, and coached with Thomas Murray of Yale University. European seminars attended include The Organs of Bach in Germany with Quentin Faulkner, the North German Organ Academy and in Tempore Organi, Italy.
Mark has performed solo piano, organ, and harpsichord recitals on concert series in numerous churches, including Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. As a member of the duo piano team, Redekopp and Edwards, Mark and his wife, Karin, have performed concerts throughout the Midwest and Canada. They completed a three-week concert tour of Japan and Korea, with further concerts in England.
Erik Swenson (Instrumental Music Program) has been a member of Baker since 1997 and began to oversee the Instrumental Music Program in 1999. He organizes and directs small-group instrumental ensembles that provide the prelude music for the Sunday Worship Services.
Once a month a different type of ensemble performs, including different brass, woodwind and string groups made up of adults, high school age and middle school age instrumentalists. Some months will offer music from adults and other months will feature groups of younger musicians. Erik has been the band director at Haines Middle School in St. Charles since 1994 and plays trumpet with the Baker Brass Ensemble.
He earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University and his Master of Music Education from Vander Cook College of Music. Erik and his wife Jennifer have two daughters, Katie and Leanna.
Kathy Olivarez, director of the Wesley Singers and Chapel Bells, loves working with the children at Baker and watching their musicianship grow. She received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Wheaton Conservatory of Music and her master’s degree in Music Education from Northern Illinois University. Kathy has been a public school music teacher for nearly 30 years and is the choral director at Eastview Middle School in Bartlett. She also enjoys composing and arranging choral music in her spare time. Kathy and her husband, Richard, live in Elgin with their two sons, Mark and John.
Melissa Pagano-Arndt, Soprano received her Masters of Music from Roosevelt University in 2007 and her Bachelor’s of Music from Judson University in 2004. Melissa has been the soprano section leader for the Elgin Master Chorale since 2009. She teaches piano and voice lessons out of her home. Melissa has been an active member at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church for many years. She started singing in the Cherub choir when she was 2 years old. She is honored to be the music director of the Cherub choir since 2013.
Robert Murphy has directed the Chancel Bell Choir for nearly 10 years. He also sings in the Chancel Choir and is an accomplished French Horn player with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra. Rob also maintains an active Horn studio. Rob and his son Alex reside in St. Charles.
Kingdom of Groove
The Kingdom of Groove features pianist Sam Wyatt, bass player Joel Masters and percussionist Steve Hunt, along with talented soloists.
Samuel Wyatt has been playing piano for the last 15 years. He is a graduate of St. Charles East High School and Northern Illinois University, being part of both Jazz programs. As a musician of God, he blends the sounds of jazz, funk and blues music into every hymn and praise chorus he plays. This style can be heard every Sunday at the Baker Methodist Jazz Service. Outside of church, Samuel has performed at a variety of venues including The Hotel Baker, House Of Blues Chicago, Season’s 52 and The Irish Cottage in Galena.
Mary Hunt LeCuyer, Soloist, grew up attending Baker Memorial United Methodist Church. She receive a degree in Professional Music from the Berklee College of Music in 2004. Since then she has maintained a private voice and piano studio in St. Charles. Mary also performs regularly with her duo and band. Visit Mary’s website, maryhuntmusic.com to hear some of her performances.
Jeanne Fornari, Soloist, studied vocal performance at DePaul University and has been an active singer and performer in the Chicago area for over 25 years. Fornari was co-leader of The Late Shift Orchestra for more than a decade, performing for corporate events, weddings, and private parties throughout the region. She has also worked as a recording session singer for World Library and GIA publications. Most recently, she is active singing with both the Chancel Choir and for the Jazz Services at Baker, the St. Charles Singers, and has a private vocal studio out of her home.
The worship life and fellowship of Baker Memorial UMC are enriched by a strong music program. Our choirs and soloists provide the music for worship each Sunday. In addition, the adult choir presents a longer, sacred work every Christmas season, and one of the highlights in May is Music Sunday. There are music groups targeted to all age groups and interest levels.
Our music programs are open to anyone with a love of music and a willingness to work on creating it. Our musicians enjoy the fellowship which comes with participating in the music program. For more information, contact Jeffrey Hunt, Director of Music.