AP NEWS

Buckhead resident leading national music conference

May 13, 2019

For the second time in 15 years, Herb Buffington is leading the Association of Disciple Musicians’ annual summer conference.

This year’s event, themed “Blessing, Glory, Honor and Power,” will take place July 7 through 12 at Webster Groves Christian Church in Webster Groves, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb. Buffington, a Buckhead resident and the organist at Peachtree Christian Church in Midtown, is also the association’s 2019 president. He also chaired the conference in 2005.

“The president is generally the chair of the conference, but the president can designate another chair or co-chair,” said Buffington, who is co-chairing this year’s event with Lisa Cripe. “It’s an exciting proposition to present wonderful clinicians to the membership.”

The association is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit whose mission is “to increase the effectiveness of church musicians as they participate in the mission of the church,” including “church music by vocation or avocation,” according to its website. Buffington said the conference stands out for at least two reasons.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to share with other musicians for fellowship, spiritual growth (and) professional growth,” he said. “The thing that keeps me coming back to (the association) each year is the friendships I’ve developed with colleagues across the nation. We share resources and share ideas. We ask what’s going on in other churches. …

“The thing for me that makes it stand out is the clinicians we have involved with year. There are very few conferences that have (this strong) a lineup of clinicians.”

This year’s lineup includes the Rev. Ron Allen and his wife, the Rev. Linda McKinnon Allen. Ron Allen is the professor of preaching and gospels and letters at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.

“He’s one of the most well-known members of the clergy in the denomination,” Buffington said. “His wife also has a tremendous following. …

“If you’re a choral director, it doesn’t get much better than Mack Wilberg, who is music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (in Salt Lake City), formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”

Buffington said the lineup of clinicians also includes Janette Fishell, “an organist of international standing” who chairs the organ department at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and worship designer Andra Moran of Nashville.

Pianist Randy Frieling, the association’s president-elect and a resident of Mount Dora, Florida, said he met Buffington at the organization’s conference 19 years ago.

“There was a group of us that got together then and we’ve since remained friends,” he said, adding the event stands out because of its “great clinicians and great friendships.”

“We just have a lot of fun,” Frieling said. “It’s a workshop where people learn but there’s enough free time where you can meet other people from around the country and really get to know them. My first conference was in New Mexico in 1990. I’ve had some lifelong friendships come out of it.”

He said Buffington deserves to lead the conference again this year.

“Herb and I do organ and piano concerts (together),” Frieling said. “He’s a phenomenal organist and no one can touch him as an improviser. He was involved with the American Guild of Organists and he was a prizewinner in the national convention, so he’s highly respected in the organ world.”

The conference is open to anyone interested in music, and attendees don’t have to be affiliated with a church to go. Registration fees range from $75 per day to $370 for the entire week and include meals and evening events but do not include airfare or hotel rooms.

For more information or to register, visit www.adm-doc.org.