Salem Creative Arts

Salem Creative Arts/ Music Ministry offers a wide variety of worship support ensembles. Gifts of music and praise enrich and enhance services as people of all ages work together to share music as their gift to God, the congregation, and community.

Adult and Children's Vocal Choirs and Intergenerational Handbell and Puppet Teams participate in worship on a rotating basis and rehearse weekly during the school year on Wednesday or Thursday evenings. See the Creative Arts Calendar for the schedule.

Seasonal groups include Brass, Flute, Praise-style, or Vocal Ensembles and a Festival of Carols at Christmas. Salem Children's Choir shares an annual Spring Musical.   Individual gifts of music are most welcome as well.

Salem Worship & Creative Arts During The Pandemic

It has been a lively dance to transition to online worship services the last few weeks and we sure miss Salem congregation, Creative Arts groups, Assisting Ministers, Ushers, Altar Guild and interactive worship!

We first recorded at Salem while social distancing. Shortly after we were confined to our homes and have been using the Zoom platform to record. And mostly it has been Pastor, Ron and I with occasional treats of music or readings from others, which we hope to expand. Recording Holy Week and Easter felt very different than the energy and excitement of God’s people assembled together. All of us are learning new ways to communicate and share the hope and love of Jesus as well as navigate daily living as safely as we can. Our praise to Pastor Preston for helping us get online and preparing Powerpoints to include gifts from the youth, Sue for preparing bulletins, and Lynn for advertising and posting worship. Ron is the tech guy at our house as we practice and prepare the services, and I am trying to simplify our hymns and liturgy for a different kind of participation.

We certainly miss practicing with choirs, bells, and puppets – the interaction with God’s people and the joy of music and worship. Our love and prayers to all of you! Unfortunately several things are on hold until it is safe to meet again, especially the Spring Children’s Musical, Livin’ Inside Out, and Salem’s 150th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration with Bishop Clements and former clergy as guests. Hopefully these special events can be rescheduled, but we have to wait for now. We may be able to do some creative things this summer, but as you know, so much depends on repressing the virus. God’s peace to you all as we live in the joy and hope of Easter!

Carla and Ron Vanatta Ministers of Music


Salem Vocal Choirs gather groups of children and adults to teach the faith in song and celebrate God's love and grace in worship. There's a place for singers as young as 4 years of age. Please consider exploring the gift of music God has given you or your child. Visit a choir, handbell, or puppet practice between mid-September through mid-May to see if it's a good fit and feel. Offer to share music on an instrument or sing a solo.


Salem Children's Choir

Children’s Choir is for singers 4 yrs. old through 5th grade who learn about Jesus' life and teachings as they practice songs of faith to share in worship. Rehearsals are from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the choir room Wednesdays September 11 - May. Children’s Choir sings for the 10:30 a.m. service about twice a month and for occasional festival services. The children also participate in the Advent Festival of Carols and prepare an annual Spring Musical Drama.
adult choir performing

Celebration Voices

Celebration Voices is an active choir for adults who enjoy singing songs of faith in harmony [SATB]. They lead regular and festival services 2 or 3 times a month at either 8:00 or 10:30 a.m. worship and rehearse Wednesdays from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the choir room September 11 - May. All ability levels are welcome – come whenever you can – sing for a month or two if you cannot commit to the whole season!
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Puppet Praise

Salem Puppet Praise Team brings smiles as adorable people, animal, and creature puppets come to life to share faith stories and songs for worship services and outreach programs. Learn to be a puppeteer Thursdays from 6:15-7:15 p.m. in the Choir Room, September 12 - May, and let your inner child shine through! Youth and adults, grade 5 and up, make a great intergenerational team ministry. Salem Puppets share in worship about once a month and prepare longer programs of faith or history about three times a year for care centers, community venues, or other churches.

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Sounds of Grace Handbell Choir

Sounds of Grace Bells is for middle school and older, youth and adults who enjoy the teamwork of a handbell choir and the blessing of songs of faith. Each ringer plays 2 to 4 bells and learns to ring them with various techniques as indicated in the score. The ability to read music is preferred; others can learn. Ringers work with a 3-octave set of Malmark handbells and play for worship once or twice a month and for Festival services. Rehearsals are from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays in the Balcony
September 12 - May.

Please contact Ron Vanatta at 815.895.9171 or if you have questions or wish to participate.

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Children's Musicals

Each spring Salem children and youth prepare a fun themed musical drama for Salem worship services, and often share it as an outreach for a local care center. Rehearsals are held according to the children's availability about 8-10 weeks prior to the presentation date. Children are given a songbook and rehearsal CD to learn the speaking parts and songs at home, and work on choreography and staging at the rehearsals. Adults and older youth help with set construction, costumes, choreography, sound, snacks, etc..

Besides being a lot of fun, musicals help kids memorize scripture and faith stories, build musical skill, stage presence and confidence, and give the kids time to build new relationships.

These pictures are from the 2019 musical "Star Factor" taken by Steve Daskal

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Festival of Carols or Cantatas at Salem

Adult and youth singers come together once or twice a year to prepare special Christmas or Lenten programs, extended works of narration, and songs. Instrumentalists or soloists are often featured in these worship presentations. Rehearsals are held on scheduled Sunday and Wednesday evenings prior to the presentation and all singers are welcome.

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Brass Ensembles

Easter and Christmas Brass Ensembles lend to the Festive atmosphere of these special services. Rehearsals are scheduled at the convenience of those participating. Please consider sharing your gift! Watch the Events pages for upcoming dates.

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Individual Gifts of Praise

Solos, ensembles, and instrumental musicians are all encouraged to enhance Salem worship. Please contact Carla or Ron Vanatta, Salem Music Directors, for scheduling and assistance in choosing music or accompanying.

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Singing & Ringing Memorials

Financial support for Salem Creative Arts is always welcome and appreciated. Choral or handbell anthems, musicals, or cantatas may be sponsored in honor or in memory of someone.

Gifts are acknowledged in the bulletin the first time the music is shared and are cataloged as Singing or Ringing Memorials in a permanent file. Amounts of $25-$30 sponsors a handbell anthem, $40-$50 sponsors a choral anthem, and $400-$500 gift sponsors a musical or cantata. Several smaller gifts may also be combined to sponsor any of these categories.

The generosity of Salem congregation and friends has enabled Salem Creative Arts to build a good choral library with a wide variety of traditional, historic, and contemporary hymn and song arrangements for worship.

Gifts to Salem Puppet Praise Ministry in any amount are also welcomed to purchase puppets or equipment. Our puppet inventory has grown to about 75 puppets from small bugs to full-sized people and animal puppets through special gifts and memorials.

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We are grateful for all involved and extend a warm welcome to others interested. Stop in for a rehearsal and see if the group feels like something you'd enjoy!

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Contact Carla at (815) 895-9171 or by sending her a message.
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