In its ongoing efforts to encourage gifted new candidates to enter the field of church music, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) has launched a new church-based grant program to support the training of church musicians in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

PAM — a national organization of the PC(USA) for those involved in the areas of worship, music, and the arts — will award two grants in 2015 in the amount of $1,500 to each of two PC(USA) congregations who seek to teach interns in church music.

“Since earliest times, the church has been a place where music has played a central role,” said William McConnell, executive director of PAM. “Through this new grant program, we are pleased to help facilitate a learning experience where interns will learn from seasoned mentors those lessons many of us learned instead in the school of hard knocks. Interns will learn valuable skills that will serve them and their future church employers well.

Funding for the grants has been provided through the generosity of the Ansel Reed Children's Enrichment Fund and Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Dardaganian, a couple with a lifelong passion for worship and music, particularly as expressed by children.

“It is our hope that this program — which was itself made possible through the passion of faithful supporters — will encourage congregations of all sizes and musical traditions to share their own love and passion for music with a new generation of church leaders,” McConnell said. “Every church has something that it does well and can teach others.”

Michael Vaughn — a church musician in Texas and a frequent participant in the Mo-Ranch/PAM Conference on Worship and Music — said that churches can benefit from all the gifts that interns have to offer.

“I started as an intern with no idea that it would lead to a career in church music,” Vaughn said. “I now have 8 interns singing in my current choir and plan to teach them the great things I learned at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church [in Houston]. I know these grants will help the next round of music and worship leaders emerge and discover their talents.”

Complete information on how to apply for the grants — including a request for proposals — may be found on PAM’s website. Applications will be accepted beginning December 1, 2014, with a deadline of January 30, 2015.

“We’re anticipating a successful first year of this program and want to make this an ongoing part of PAM’s ministry to the church,” McConnell said.