Seminary & Denominational Relations Resources
Committee on Career Development and Support
David Rhody, ESQ, SPC Director
First Presbyterian Church
315 Reillywood Ave.
Haddonfield, NJ 08033-2205
Tamara M. Albrecht, DWS
2392 Sagamore Hills Dr.
Decatur, GA 30033
Carol Feather Martin
1927 Hawthorne Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22311-1614
W: 703-536-5600 ext. 117
Michael Morgan, CCM
7310 Hobgood Rd.
Fairburn, GA 30213
The Committee on Career Development and Support develops national compensation guidelines for musicians employed by religious institutions. This committee, primarily concerned with the professional lives of AGO members, also:
Periodically reviews AGO Code of Ethics and discipline, Procedures for Dealing with Complaints about Termination, and Code of Professional Standards.
Assists chapters, regional councillors, and the national Councillor for Professional Development in dealing with grievance and Code of Ethics cases.
Produces AGO resources such as model contracts and the annual directory of chapter placement services.
Each year, AGO members report sudden terminations that leave them humiliated, confused, and financially vulnerable. In the majority of cases brought to the attention of the Councillor for Professional Development, there is no agreement that explains how either party may terminate the relationship. Under this arrangement, termed “employment at will,” musicians may simply walk out the door and not return, and churches may announce they have hired a new organist – starting next week.
Any employee can be released from employment, just as any employee can choose to accept a better position and work elsewhere. But one important reason for having a written agreement is to ensure that neither party is left adrift with no warning, recourse, or financial assistance.
A contract is not a tenure document. Contracts do not guarantee employment. What a contract does is outline the mutual expectations of both parties for a stated period of time, the compensation arrangements, and termination guidelines. We have frequently heard the comment, “Even if I don’t have a written contract, there is still a verbal agreement that can be recognized as a contract.” For clarification of this issue, we refer you to Mark Stoner’s explanation of “employment at will” in the Guild’s Professional Development Handbook. Stoner’s writing will also assist members in assessing their individual contract needs and broaching the idea of a written agreement with an employer. No model contract is “one size fits all.” We encourage members to use these models by tailoring them to individual situations.
Updated February 7, 2012