Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A small group of thoughtful people

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  -- Margaret Mead

Last Thursday I was invited to attend the signing of a proclamation by the Governor of the State of Kansas at the state capitol in Topeka.  Due to the ongoing efforts of a few in the Wichita AGO chapter, October has been proclaimed "Sunflower Organists Month" in Kansas!  See the official proclamation from Governor Sam Brownback, and a photo of the group, below.

Sunflower Organists Month is only one part of a project called the Sunflower Organists Initiative, designed and being implemented by the Wichita chapter.  In this, the state's sesquicentennial year, volunteers from the chapter are making efforts to contact organists in every one of the state's 105 counties, to become better acquainted, to share educational opportunities, and to express mutual appreciation of and enjoyment of music.  The main goal of the project is to increase awareness and appreciation for the organ throughout the state.  They are encouraging all Kansas AGO chapters to stage fun and informative local events for all ages, geared to interest the general public, with some designed especially to introduce young people to the instrument.  If you are a Kansas organist, I encourage you to be a part of the Sunflower Organists Initiative!

As I stood in line with three dedicated volunteers from Wichita, plus members from the Topeka and Greater Kansas City chapters who came to show support, what was most striking to me was what a small group of dedicated volunteers can do.  They came up with an idea, developed it, and followed it through -- because it's important.  And that is the strength of the Guild. 

Each initiative, each chapter meeting, each recital, each convention, each election of officers, each newsletter -- the list goes on and on -- is possible only through the ideas, efforts, and dedication of individual volunteers who work to make these things happen.  We all have contributions of time, talent, and finances that we can make to ensure the success of these efforts.  And when our individual efforts are combined, we can create huge changes!  We can change how the organ as an instrument is viewed by the public.  We can change how many organ programs are offered by our states' educational systems.  We can change the number of organs installed in churches, synagogues, and concert halls.  We can change what the month of October 2011 is called in the state of Kansas.

What can you change, today?

Pictured (L to R):  Roseann Penner Kauffman (Bethel College & Greater Kansas City chapters), Jan Kraybill (Region VI Councillor and Greater Kansas City chapter); Carrol Hassman (Wichita chapter Dean); Governor Sam Brownback; Carolyn Chambers (Wichita chapter Secretary); Sr. Nylas Moser (Wichita chapter Program Co-Chair); Donna Osborne (Topeka chapter Secretary).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Condolences to Lincoln Chapter and Burns Davis' Family

I received word last week that the new Dean of the Lincoln (NE) Chapter, Burns Davis, passed away unexpectedly. I know you join me in keeping Burns' extended family, her church families, her musical families, and her AGO chapter family in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. Below is the obituary that appeared in the Lincoln newspaper today. Jan

Burns Smith Davis, 63, Lincoln, died unexpectedly at home Sept. 8, 2011. She was born Bonnie Jill Reimer to Barney J. and Martha Louise Smith Reimer on Nov. 13, 1947 in Enid, Okla. Burns later took her first and last names from beloved and influential piano teachers. She received a Bachelor of Music and, in 1972, a Master of Library Science from the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

She held library jobs at the University of Arkansas, for the library system of Yakima, Wash., and Red Bluff, Calif. She earned an M.S. in Botany in Yakima. Burns was also a certified Nursing Home Administrator in Cupertino, Calif. where she was active with a ragtime piano group and Festival. In Los Gatos, Calif., she expanded her career to include Business Consulting and Design. Burns came to Lincoln to join the State Library Commission and developed Davis Business Systems.

In 1998, she attended the Myotherapy Institute to become a massage therapist and quickly became known for her gifted skills. Her business name, Ehaweh Arts, honored an Indian great grandmother known as a healer in Oklahoma.

Burns was an accomplished ragtime musician and presented annually at the Ragtime to Riches Festival in Omaha. She was substitute organist at St. Marks Episcopal, St. David's Episcopal, St. Paul's UMC, St. Pauls UCC, and was organist for a time at Trinity UMC. In 2000, she returned to the Central Christian Church in Enid, where she interned on the pipe organ while at Phillips U., and played a Fathers Day concert.

She was the current Dean of the Lincoln Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. She studied with Mary Murrell Faulkner and at St. Cecelia's in Omaha with Marie Rubis Bauer on the Pasi organ. She was preparing an October concert on the pump organ at St. Pauls UMC. She sang in St. Marks on Campus choir and in the High Holy Days Choir at South Street Temple. She recently converted to Judaism and was a cantorial soloist.

Music and healing were at the core of Burns' life. She was a renaissance woman known for her wit, broad analytical intelligence, commitment to personal growth, support of many communities, dependability, kindness, love of animals and nature and all things refined and beautiful.

Survivors: sister, husband, Elaine and John Zook; nephew, wife, Jody and Louise Zook; a host of dear friends; animal companions, Simon and Peter. She was preceded in death by her parents; and her Shih-tzu companion, Ernie.

Public services: 2 p.m. Wednesday, September 14, South Street Temple. Memorials will be designated later. Arrangements: Roper and Sons. Condolences: www.roperandsons.com.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tax Filing Requirements for AGO Chapters

If you are a chapter Dean or Treasurer, please give your attention to the following post from James Thomashower, AGO's Executive Director. Handling this now will save you much hassle later! Chapters that fail to file will risk losing their tax-exempt status. Jan

As previously announced, the IRS has implemented a reporting requirement for nonprofit organizations with gross receipts of less than $50,000. If your chapter falls within this parameter, it will need to file an annual electronic notice called Form 990-N. Form 990-N is an electronic postcard that is simple and easy to complete.

The due date for the e-Postcard is November 15, 2011. It will reflect the chapter's operations for the July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011 fiscal year. (The due date is technically the 15th day of the 5th month following the close of your fiscal year.)

  • Chapter Name
  • Chapter Mailing Address (If your chapter does not have a chapter mailbox, you can use your Dean's address)
  • Chapter Website (if you have one)
  • Chapter EIN Number (This is your Chapter's Tax Identification Number. If you do not know your chapter's EIN, National Headquarters staff will provide it to you over the phone.)
  • Name of the Dean and his/her address
  • Chapter's annual tax period (Typically the chapter's fiscal year is July 1 - June 30)
  • Verification that your chapter's income is still normally $50,000 or less (You can do this by preparing the Chapter Income/Expense Statement Worksheet that is provided in the Chapter Management Handbook and online in the Chapter Management section here.)
Please note that the form will only be accessible online, so if you do not have access to the Internet, you will need to obtain it from a colleague or go to a local library to file the form. Chapters that fail to file will risk losing their tax-exempt status.

To familiarize yourself with the process for completing the form online CLICK HERE. You should access this form and complete it after the close of your fiscal year.

If you have any questions, as always, feel free to call us during business hours, Monday - Friday, 9-5 Eastern Time at 212-870-2310. You can learn more about the requirements at the IRS website.


James Thomashower
Executive Director

P.S. If your chapter's gross income during the tax year is more than $50,000, you will need to file IRS Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax). Form 990-N will not replace this requirement.