An open letter to those affected by recent flooding

Dear AGO Colleagues and Friends:

Northeastern Pennsylvania has had a long history of dealing with floods. Some of our long-time members remember the Hurricane Agnes flooding in 1972, not to mention flooding scares in years since, including 1996 and 2006. Perhaps some even remember the 1936 flood! Now ALL OF US have experienced the anxiety and heartbreak that has come with this most recent flooding episode. Thankfully, many of us have been spared damage to our homes, churches, schools, or businesses. But others of us have not been so fortunate. Our hearts go out to all those among us who have suffered losses from this disaster. I know all of us will want to come together as an AGO Chapter to support and assist those in need.

If you have experienced any loss, please let us know so that we might reach out and be of help in some way. Those of us who were here and lived through the horror of Agnes in 1972 will remember the incredible response from other AGO chapters across the country in sending money, music, and vestments to support our members and their churches in recovery from losses. Many will remember the “flood library” of choral music that was maintained for many years in the Choir Room at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre. Multiple copies of choral octavos were available to AGO members’ church choirs who had lost most or all of their own collections of choral music. Indeed, there was assistance also from within the chapter; churches and musicians on higher ground were able to provide help to those individuals and parishes in the flood zone. In short, people pulled together to assist each other in a time of utter devastation.

Thankfully, it appears that, while the damage from this catastrophe is considerable and, in some cases, even worse than what was experienced in 1972, there are fewer people affected, thanks to the improved dike and levy system protecting Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, and Forty Fort. But our hearts must surely go out to those of our colleagues who have suffered loss.

Once again, if you have sustained loss at home or church, please let us know. Likewise, if you can offer help in some way, let us know of this as well. We are here for each other.

As we return to our work as music ministers, let us be mindful of the special roles we have to play in bringing comfort and hope to those in need. May we all recommit ourselves to our profession with renewed purpose, keeping in mind these powerful and appropriate words from the much loved hymn, “How firm a foundation …”

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.” [K. in John Rippon’s Selection, 1787]

God bless and keep you and yours!

Faithfully yours,

Kay Ten Eyck, Dean
Pennsylvania Northeast Chapter, American Guild of Organists


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