Congregations and Conscience

This issue of Camp profiles the Heartland Men’s Chorus as they celebrate their 20th anniversary. Joe Nadeau, the Artistic Director for the Chorus, has recently been in the local news and may soon be featured in national news: his contract as music director of St. Agnes Catholic Church was not renewed because he is involved with a gay men’s chorus.
Nadeau has said he made no secret of the fact he was active with the Heartland Men’s Chorus and in fact said so before he was hired by St. Agnes eight years ago. Although Nadeau was well-loved and respected by the children he taught and many adults, a group of parishioners were determined to see him gone. According to Nadeau, St. Agnes’s pastor, Monsignor Gary Applegate presented him with three conditions for keeping his job: Resignation from the Heartland Men’s Chorus, promise to be celibate, state that homosexuality is a disorder. Applegate has refused to comment for a Kansas City Star article, saying that this case was a personal matter.
Although this was no doubt a painful episode for Joe Nadeau, there is a happy ending. He was offered the position of music director by the First Lutheran Church in Mission Hills and accepted. After the story broke in the Star, Nadeau says he was contacted by two other churches as well.
Nadeau participated in his last Mass at St. Agnes Church on May 21. He will be leading the Heartland Men’s Chorus June 10 and 11 for the spring concert, “A Homecoming,” and will also be musical director for the closing ceremonies of the Gay Games in Chicago this July.
Let’s hope that the First Lutheran Church feels no repercussions to their courageous decision to hire a talented music director, regardless of sexual orientation. We commend the Church for acting on their conscience and choosing talent over discrimination

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