Hi. My name is Richard Barrett, and I’m the Artistic Director for the Saint John of Damascus Society. Our mission statement is “Revealing Orthodox Christianity through its sacred music”; we believe that the sung heritage of Orthodox Christianity is one of the components of its liturgical beauty that is most easily shared with the general public, and therefore should be shared and treated as a primary instrument of outreach and education.
My friend Harold Sabbagh and I started the Society in 2010 after we organized the Orthodox Music Symposium at Indiana University and realized that we needed a dedicated arts organization for such things. We incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Indiana in July of 2011, and then we assembled an Executive Board and an Advisory Board the following fall, having our first meeting in November. We were granted federal tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 non-profit in April of 2012, and we’ve been busy ever since with a lot of planning, a lot of making friends, a lot of reaching out to people we hope will help us. We’ve been involved in a number of different activities over the last year — we’ve been invited to speak at churches and at universities, we’ve collaborated on a radio broadcast, we’ve contributed to some other efforts, and we’ve helped out new mission churches with a couple of things. It’s been a busy year, to say the least.
(A vital parenthetical: we’ve been very blessed with a lot of help in getting going as far as online and visual identities go. Jim John Marks, a wonderful web developer based in Houston, TX, did an awful lot to get us started, and the renowned Sayre Design of Emmaus, PA did stunning work on our completed website, business cards, and stationery.)
We have a lot of projects that we’re working on and can’t wait to tell you about; we’re blessed enough to have a lot of wonderfully talented people involved in what we’re doing, and we hope you’ll be as excited as we are when you find out what we’re up to. You can find hints of our plans here.
We’ve got a journal (print and online) we’re working on. Interested in contributing? We’d love to hear from you.
One of the things we hope to be able to announce soon is how you can be a part of what we’re doing directly. In the meantime, if you’re interested in supporting us, you can like us on Facebook (and don’t forget to share!), you can buy things from Amazon.com in a way that provides us with a referral fee, and you can also make a tax-deductible donation (to the extent allowed by law) directly.
Besides my periodic updates about various efforts, our Education Director Laura Willms will be sharing some of her pedagogical wisdom in this venue from time to time.
In the meantime — do you want to know more about us? Do you want to find out how you can help with something specific? Do you need a speaker? Is there a particular musical issue close to your heart that you hope that we’ll work on? Do you have general questions about Orthodox music? By all means, get in touch with us — you can always e-mail me at richardbarrett AT johnofdamascus.org, or you can use this form.
More soon. Keep in touch, and I’ll do the same.