The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 29 - May 8, 2013


Church organists to exchange benches

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

A bill is moving through the Legislature that would
allow resort taxes to be spent on lifeguards.

Jim Johnston, organist and director of music ministries at Roser Memorial Commmunity Church in Anna Maria, and Eric Spencer, organist from London and Cape Town, will switch appointments this month.

Johnston met a young couple from overseas who were very excited about their house swapping experience. Johnston became excited to do the same, so he put an ad in a respected musical journal, and Spencer answered.

Spencer’s first worship service at Roser Memorial Community Church will be at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 12. Everyone is invited to join the congregation in welcoming him to the United States.

For more information call the church office at 941-778-0414, email or go to

Johnston flies to London on May 9 to fill Spencer’s shoes.

About spencer

Spencer, A.R.C.O. studied the organ privately in London and became assistant organist of St Luke’s Church Chelsea in 1955 at the age of 16. He was later organist of various London and Sussex (UK) churches, combining his church music activities with his business career.

For more than 20 years from 1974, he was organist and director of music at St Peter’s, the parish church of Brighton, Sussex, a church of cathedral proportions with a fine four manual "Father" Willis organ and a traditional choir of men and boys.

After retiring from St Peter’s he continued to play for various churchesand choirs in Sussex until, in 2003, the chance sighting of an advertisement for the post of organist and master of the Choristers at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Port Elizabeth led him to South Africa and he held this appointment for six years.

He and his wife, Mina, moved to Cape Town in April 2011, and he now plays regularly at Saint George’s, the renowned Anglican Episcopal Cathedral where Archbishop Desmond Tutu carried out his great ministry during the apartheid years. Notable events there recently included a moving service of celebration to mark the award of the American John Templeton prize to Archbishop Emeritus Tutu. Former recipients have included Mother Teresa and (last year) the Dalai Lama.

About Johnston

Johnston received a BM cum laude, MM and DMA from Boston University, followed by advanced study of organ, harpsichord and recorder at Trinity College of Music in London. He became an instructor at Boston Conservatory and served as the organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral as well as directing the Bretton Woods Boy’s Choir Camp during the summers.

In 1978 he toured England as co-director and sang at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford and Boston Parish Church.

As the minister of music at First Church, Congregational of Nashua, Johnston conducted various choirs and for the 300th anniversary celebration held special events each month, commissioned an anthem from English composer Alan Wilson and suite for brass and organ from Boston composer, Kenneth Seitz.

He served as the executive director of the Nashua Symphony Association, conducted the Nashua Symphony Choral Society and led five European tours. He also directed the Southwest Florida Symphony Association and conducted the Florida Symphony Chorus, again touring overseas as well as hosting overseas choirs. During this time he was the organist/choirmaster at the Sanibel United Church of Christ and then at the First Presbyterian Church of Bonita.

In November 2010, Johnston joined the staff of Roser Memorial Community Church as the director of music ministries. He started the very popular concert series, Easter and Christmas cantatas. The Roser Choir has dramatically increased in size under Jim’s ministry, the handbell choir is a favorite, and he has been instrumental in bringing excellent musicians to perform in the worship services.

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