In the past year, I have experienced a huge resurgence in my interest in singing. When I lived in Seattle, I occasionally attended Song Circles but felt no real sense of connection with them, never felt any more than passing interest from other musicians.
Here on the island, I found an acoustic music community that I slowly got more and more involved with, starting with J's telling me about the Thursday jams. The jams moved from one venue to another---a bar, a coffeehouse, a small business, various homes---and is now back in homes temporarily.
My interest waxed and waned but I gradually came to feel like a real part of the group and that connection grew stronger as I felt appreciated and recognized as a significant singer, despite not playing any instrument. Now it is something I schedule my life around, and this summer, being part of the jam group invited to perform really cemented my attachment to it.
Out of the wry Whiskey performance has grown a feeling of friendship and camaraderie that are new to me---or at least not recently experienced. The rehearsals together for three weeks, being a leader, learning others' skills, getting to know others at a quick dinner at the Mexican place after rehearsal, then the pleasure of really being together as a performing group--all this has meant a great deal to me. I want to do it again and again!
The jams have become important to me as something in my life that is very different from my work. None of the jammers go to my church, I'm not their minister, they don't relate to me that way. A couple of congregants have expressed some interest in the jams, but I am quietly discouraging, hopefully without being rude.
I really need to say something directly, probably: "If you're going to attend the jams (which are public, after all), I want you to know that this is my social group away from ministry and I want to keep the two as separate as possible. I don't talk church there or anything but music. Some of us perform together and that's also important to me. If you are going to come, please be aware of how important it is to me that this is my group of non-church friends and please respect my need to keep it separate."