When your mother teaches piano lessons and you grow up across the street from the Methodist church, it’s not hard to foresee a life destined for music ministry. Janie Greenway has been making music since before she could write her name. Janie went to every lesson her mother taught. She had a child-sized, pitch-perfect piano in the other room where she would play. She figures her mother’s students probably didn’t appreciate all the noise she was making. Learning piano was a part of growing up.
Janie couldn’t wait until she turned 14. That meant she could finally join the choir. The choir director also taught Janie how to play the organ. The organ was fascinating and very different from playing the piano. Her summers were spent learning and practicing.
Music did become a major part of her life and the ministry piece fell into place as well. Janie is also an ordained minister. She spent eleven years working as a pastor. I asked her if she ever preached her sermon and then stepped over to the organ to play the special music. She smiled and graciously told me no.
First Methodist was extremely fortunate when Janie moved to Beaumont. She has been the organist here for the past 22 years. She still gets nervous and she still practices her hand and pedal exercises. I asked her if she had a favorite piece to play but she told me no, it’s more about moments. The moments she accompanies the choir and they perform a piece that comes together perfectly. I knew exactly what she meant. It’s the Sundays when you know something powerful just happened, but you can’t describe it with words. You realize this is how music must sound in heaven.
I got to observe Janie practice one Friday afternoon. The sanctuary was dark and there was a sacred quietness in the space. The organ made an airy sound when it powered up. It was like a living, breathing spirit was waking. A spirit that had been waiting for Janie to bring it to life. I know Jesus is present on Sunday, but I also think He is there every Friday to hear this kind, gentle musi- cian fill the air with beautiful music.
By Michelle Holland