BTS News — March 2017

Hello, Friends of Bellingham Threshold Singers,

The new year is less than 3 months old and we are as busy as ever.  We have sung over 100 times already, in homes and facilities. It seems that more adult family homes are discovering our services; we continue to sing regularly at Hospice House, Stafholt in Blaine, St. Francis, and PeaceHealth St. Joseph’s Rehab Unit.

We have 30 sails and 7 anchors, and the membership list is now 40 members long. We said goodbye to a few members who have left to deal with busy lives, illness, or family situations. We look forward to welcoming many of them back when they’re ready. We have embraced several new members and are especially thrilled to have young women joining our group.

After meeting in alternative space for two months while Jerns was undergoing a remodel, we are gratefully back rehearsing at “home.” We are thankful that Jerns lets us meet there and appreciative of their new carpet and new folding chairs. We thank Garden Street United Methodist Church for providing us with temporary meeting space.

Consistent with our shared leadership model, we invite our members to hold leadership positions as they are willing and able. The beginning of the new year saw several changes in leadership as some members stepped down from positions they have held for a year or more, while others stayed to provide continuity and new leaders emerged.

Our “new” Crow’s Nest is Barb Clearman, President; Diana “Mac” McKinney, Vice President; Andrea Fenwick, Secretary; Janis Walworth, Treasurer; Crystal Kinsley; Donna Inglis; and Jana Burk. At 7 members, this is the largest Crow’s Nest we’ve ever had. We’re excited to have so many members willing to accept this responsibility and look forward to including new viewpoints.

We have two rehearsal leaders, whom we call Shipwrights, who share the job of planning and leading our biweekly rehearsals. April has stepped down after years of doing a superb job, and Lois and Mathilda, both experienced Shipwrights, are leading rehearsals until we have new Shipwrights. For the first time, we are instituting a training program for new Shipwrights, and we have five members taking the training.

Our team of three Bosuns continues to guide members through the process of becoming bedside singers. Cynthia left her position as Bosun, and Sylvia, an able Anchor, took her place. Instituted in 2014, this triad has become an indispensable part of BTS. As a result of their work, our  Sails and Anchors are excellently prepared for bedside service.

Two of our Crows have been designated Navigators, one to coordinate training and the other to oversee rehearsals and our repertoire. Our training now includes Sisters in Song, which is being offered this month; Compassionate Singing, which will begin in April; Anchor training, which is scheduled for later this year; and our new Shipwright training in progress.

Our harmony workshops, which give singers the opportunity to learn and practice harmony parts, as well as practice holding the melody while others are singing harmony, have been renamed Harmony Playshops because they’re so much fun. They are held on available Tuesdays in members’ homes.

We’re planning a members’ discussion meeting in April to follow up on the one we had last October. At that time, we talked about quality in our service: what that means, how we can tell whether we’re doing a good job, and how we might address any problems in that area when and if they arise. Members attending the October meeting thought being prompted to do a self-assessment would be helpful. We’ve made some progress on developing a tool for doing that, which will be presented at our April meeting.

One of the things we hold dear is our Sisterhood—our trust in each other, which is essential for bedside singing. Every singer needs to know that the others in her “boat,” the group of 3 or 4 singers at the bedside, has her back. We nurture this trust in our rehearsals and everything we do. We’re planning a special celebration of Sisterhood in May.

We’re looking forward to Threshold Choir International’s gathering in July, which will be held in Portland this year, making it more accessible than ever to our members. It is 3 days of singing and workshops with Threshold Singers from around the world, plus a fourth day for leaders of Threshold Choirs. It’s always an inspiring experience, and members who attend return with new ideas for bedside preparation, new songs, and renewed energy for the service we provide.

Thank you for your friendship. You are always welcome to be a guest at our rehearsals. We meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 6:30 at Jerns Funeral Chapel (Sunset and James) in Bellingham.

A gentle nudge: we remind you that we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies on the generosity of those who believe in our service. Tax deductible donations can be made through our website ( or by sending a check to BTS, PO Box 5303, Bellingham, WA 98227. We appreciate every penny.

Bellingham Threshold Singers


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