Employment: Acting Music Director

Reports to:           Minister

Status:                   Part-time (1/3 time. Averages 15 hours during the church program year and 6 between the third Sunday in June

                                and Labor Day.

                                This position is subject to an initial three-month probationary period, and the term of agreement is 12-18 months.

Basic Schedule:   Sunday service, 11 AM – 12:15 Sept-June, 10 - 11:15 July-August

                                Choir rehearsals, September – June: Sunday 10 – 10:45 AM; Thursday 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

                                Monthly staff meeting, day and time to be determined based on staff availability

Compensation:   $20,192 / year, paid membership in the Association for UU Music Ministries.

                                Benefits are defined by the staff handbook: non-ministerial staff currently have 2 weeks of paid vacation and

                                First Church does not provide health insurance for part-time employees.

First Church in Jamaica Plain is hiring an Acting Music Director to help us shape the future of music ministry in our church. We are a small but vibrant and spiritual Unitarian Universalist community. We gather in a historic stone Gothic Revival building in the heart of Jamaica Plain, close to Green Street and Forest Hills stations. Our minister, Rev. Elizabeth Bukey, prefers a collaborative leadership style, leads an a capella “centering” hymn” each week and sometimes sings with the choir. We are used to hearing our a historic E. & G.G. Hook tracker/ mechanical action organ most weeks. We value religious pluralism, full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the rights of undocumented people, and we proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

Our outgoing Music Director led the music program expertly for forty years: we seek a creative, flexible, and collaborative professional to build on the program’s strengths and help us learn how music can best reflect and carry out our congregation’s vision, values, and mission. We need someone who leads well through experimentation and change.

The Acting Music Director both leads and accompanies a 14-member volunteer choir, comprised of people with a variety of gender expressions, sexual orientations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, ages, and theologies. There are congregants who are musicians and we also welcome their offerings for special music in worship. There is a small music program budget that can be used to purchase choir music or hire guest musicians during the year.

Our Acting Music Director is expected to affirm Unitarian Universalist values as outlined in the
Seven Principles in all their work and professional communications. In addition, our Acting Music Director is expected to use language in work and professional communications that is inclusive of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, family status, class or religion. (Please see "Music Ministry in Diverse Community, below. Reviewing these videos on "de-centering whiteness in worship" is also highly recommended.)


  • Training in choir directing and organ performance.

  • Familiarity with, and appreciation of, a tracker-action organ.

  • Experience in designing and administering church music programs.

  • Bachelor Degree in choir directing/organ/sacred music preferred. 

Note: we are open to splitting the position between excellent candidates of complimentary skill-sets


Email items 1-3 to minister @ firstchurchjp.org

  1. Personal statement of interest in the position.

  2. Current resume or curriculum vitae.

  3. Three contacts for reference from church, academic or similar institutional employers in the last 10 years. These should include the name of the institution, a primary contact person, phone number and email address.

  4. Interview if requested by the church.

  5. Audition and/or rehearsal with the choir if requested by the church.

The Acting Music Director fosters a positive, vibrant, high quality, theologically inclusive and spiritually diverse Unitarian Universalist (UU) Music Ministry within the First Church congregation. The Acting Music Director, in partnership with the Minister, will create the foundations for a music program that is in alignment with the vision, values and mission of the congregation.

Is supervised by the Minister. Is expected to comply with all First Church staff-related policies and procedures. Also expected to join the Association for UU Music Ministries and abide by its Code of Professional Practice.


All employees must complete a CORI and have no disqualifying offenses*

Able to move freely about the church (organ/choir loft, Sanctuary, Parish Hall) and play all keyboards of the organ.
Able to read music and hear choir, soloist, etc.


The Music Director has four major areas of responsibility: music program oversight, music administration, choir leadership, and music performance / accompaniment. Details follow:


  • Oversees the music program in collaboration with the Minister and consultation with the Music Committee.

  • Pay attention to the transitional nature of the acting role, and work with the Minister and congregational leaders to clarify a future direction of the music program that reflects the vision, values, and goals of the congregation.   

  • Coordinate music for all Sunday morning worship services, Christmas Eve, and up to four other worship services per year (such as memorials, ordinations, installations, and other special events)

  • Supervise any other soloists or musicians as needed; schedule special musicians as needed (e. g. trumpet, vocalist, violin, etc).

  • Support congregants’ participation in providing music for services through scheduling, rehearsal, accompaniment, and guidance of volunteer singers and instrumentalists.

  • Foster and encourage congregational singing.

Direct the adult choir in regular rehearsals and in Sunday services; select and purchase music. Choir currently sings two Sundays a month and rehearses on corresponding Thursday evenings.


  • Select, rehearse, and perform (typically on piano or mechanical tracker-action organ):

  • Music for year-round Sunday services, usually including prelude, offertory, and postlude.

  • An interlude on most non-choir Sundays (twice per month, Sept-June)

  • Music for Christmas Eve

  • Music for up to four other worship services per year (such as memorials, ordinations, installations, and other special events)

  • Accompany congregational singing (typically 2 hymns and 3 every-Sunday short sung responses.)

  • Accompany adult choir in regular rehearsals and in Sunday worship services twice per month; accompany volunteer musicians and soloists an average of once per month


  • Oversee routine maintenance of pianos, organ, and other instruments in working order; consult on any major restoration, with understanding that congregation is ultimately responsible for project management and fundraising of any major repairs or restoration. Report major maintenance needs to the Minister and Music Committee. Ensure maintenance records are kept.

  • Maintain indexed Choral Music Library

  • Communicate with the congregation about the music program, upcoming performances and music performance opportunities.

  • Communicate with First Church Staff Team and volunteers about information for the weekly order of service and the e-newsletter.

  • Manage the music program budget, working in cooperation with the Music Committee; participate in preparing budget requests.

  • Submit choir rehearsal schedule to Office Administrator, Building Use Coordinator, and Standing Committee.

  • Ensures the Church is in compliance with music-related copyright law.

  • Schedule vacation substitute musicians when necessary, in coordination with Music Committee and Minister.


  • Attend staff meetings

  • Meet regularly with minister to plan worship

  • Meet with Music Committee as needed, usually quarterly, for feedback and support

  • Occasionally attend staff or leadership development workshops or events, such as multicultural competency training or regional workshops.

  • Make organ available to visiting musicians and scholars for study

  • Weddings and funerals: provide advice to Minister; Interim Music Director has right of first refusal to provide and organ/piano music, or recommend another musician.  


Leadership in Covenantal Community

Mission Ownership: Demonstrates understanding and full support of the mission, vision, values and beliefs of the congregation; can demonstrate those values to others; consistently behaves in a manner congruent with the mission, vision, values and beliefs.
Integrity and Trust: Is seen as trustworthy by others; practices direct, honest and transparent communication; avoids communication triangles; keeps confidences; admits mistakes; doesn’t operate with hidden agendas; responds to situations with constancy and reliability.


Communication: Is able to deliver a message clearly, articulately and with appropriate emotion in a variety of settings, including in writing; demonstrates communication styles appropriate to the situation at hand.
Follow Through: Consistently attends to the many small pieces which must be assembled into an organized whole; follows up on missing or out of balance items; resolves unanswered questions needed to address a problem; keeps the larger picture in mind while tending to details.

Priority Setting: Spends their time and directs the time of others to what is important; quickly zones in on the critical issue, and ignores or minimizes distractions; can sense what will help or hinder accomplishing a goal; eliminates roadblocks; demonstrates focus.

Interpersonal Skills: Establishes good working relationships with all others who are relevant to the completion of work; works well with people at all levels of the congregation; considers the impact of their actions on others; uses diplomacy and tact; is approachable; is collaborative.

Personal Resilience: Can effectively cope with change and uncertainty; can shift gears comfortably; can decide and act without having the total picture; is able to function when things are up in the air; can comfortably handle risk and uncertainty; is flexible.
Self-Development: Sets appropriate personal work objectives, measures own progress, identifies personal gaps in knowledge, understanding and skill; undertakes appropriate activities to develop needed skills; seeks regular feedback on performance; knows personal strengths and weaknesses, is sensitive to changing personal and organizational requirements and changes accordingly.


Program Leadership

Developing and motivating volunteers: Creates a climate in which people want to do their best; empowers others; invites shared input and decision making; makes each individual feel that their work is important; communicates expectations clearly; maintains open and active dialogue with volunteers; thinks strategically about the continual need for a next generation of leaders and works to build the volunteer base.

Music ministry in diverse community: Able to present music appropriate to a variety of worship styles and theological orientations. Practices cross-cultural engagement responsibly and respectfully; educates the congregation on avoiding cultural mis-appropriation in worship.

*What constitutes a disqualifying offense will be determined by First Church’s leadership on a case-by-case basis in light of all the surrounding circumstances. Generally, convictions for an offense involving children and/or for offenses involving violence, dishonesty, indecency and any conduct contrary to our mission will preclude someone from working at First Church.