Jazz at Four Worship at Fourth Presbyterian Church

Meet the Worship Leaders

Throughout the autumn we meeting our Jazz at Four worship leaders. Read on to get to know more about them.

Leslie Beukelman, Voice
Brian Doherty, Bass
Marcus Evans, Drums
Amr Fahmy, Piano
Shawn Fiedler, Ministerial Associate for Worship
Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident
Joe Morrow, Minister for Evangelism
Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry


Leslie Beukelman

Leslie Beukelman, Voice

How long have you been a part of the Jazz at Four band?
My first time singing with the band was in July; since September, I have been here on most Sundays.

You could spend your Sunday afternoon doing anything! Why this band and this community?
One of my main goals as a musician is to make people feel something, to help them transcend to another place in their heart and mind. I grew up singing in church; it was always a place I could sing and just let it out. Hearing all of the different voices singing together is beautiful to me. It’s the instrument we all have, and it’s very special. I love having the opportunity to sing with this band; the guys are incredible musicians, and it’s a joy to make music with them weekly. I might come in not knowing exactly how we will do a specific tune, but we create something together to share with the congregation that will only happen on that very day. It’s so much fun.

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel?
I absolutely love the Sanctuary. I walk in there and experience this overwhelming feeling I can’t explain. However, when we moved to the Buchanan Chapel one Sunday in September for Jewish High Holy Days, it was another type of feeling that felt much more intimate. The congregation being seated “in the round” felt like a little unit of love, and the musician placement felt much more natural to me, too. I think the chapel suits this style of service. I look forward to it!

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church?
When I am not at Fourth Church, I am rehearsing for a variety of upcoming performances and then performing with those groups. I have a trio with two other women (one of them is Allison, another vocalist regularly at Jazz at Four) called The Oh Yeahs; we are finishing our first album, which we plan to have out in the world by Christmas. I also sing in a big band one Sunday night a month at FitzGerald’s nightclub, at a Presbyterian church in Winnetka on Sunday mornings, and on Saturday nights I am usually in some ballroom singing the top 40 hits for a private function. My weekdays are filled with going out to hear shows, performing with other bands, and attempting to get my own music together.

Do you have a favorite jazz song? Is there an artist that has made a large impact on your career as a musician?
The first jazz song I really learned was “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” by David Mann and Bob Hilliard, and I still absolutely love it. The lyrics instantly grabbed my attention, and over the years they continue to be relevant and have also become more meaningful. This is true with many jazz standards, and I love the Great American Songbook for that very reason—“like a fine wine, the jazz singer gets better with age.” As I grow up and experience life, I am able to interpret this music in a deeper way. It makes me hopeful and taught me that making honest music is more important than fame (though if fame happens, I wouldn’t complain!). I’m grateful to be able to share music with people and make a living doing what I love to do.

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Brian Doherty

Brian Doherty, Brass

How long have you been a part of the Jazz at Four band?
I have been part of the Jazz at Four band and community for eight years.

You could spend your Sunday afternoon doing anything! Why this band and this community?
The other musicians I get to play with and make this service a great experience every time. We have all been playing together for so long now, and the Jazz at Four service allows us the chance to continue to play together on a regular basis, which makes for a group dynamic that is seldom attained. We have even reached a point of not even needing to speak in rehearsals—just music.

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel?
Buchanan Chapel is a cool space and is going to create a level of intimacy that will help build an even stronger Jazz at Four community.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church?
I spend a lot of time writing, playing, practicing, and performing music. It’s my passion.

Do you have a favorite jazz song? Is there an artist that has made a large impact on your career as a musician?
It Never Entered My Mind” is a song that sticks out in my memory as a piece of music that really knocked me out. Particularly the Miles Davis recording from the album Workin’.

When I was in middle school I began to really try to dive into the wealth of music that is out there and started to check out some jazz albums that were recommended to me by people I respected. Most of said albums were way over my head. There were too many notes, no back beat, and I had no idea where the melody was. I was young, confused, and intimated by the whole idea of jazz.

Then I happened to stumble on Workin’ by Miles Davis in my dad’s record collection. I put it on, and there it was. A door had opened, and things became clearer to me. It drips with joy and sadness and paints a picture of a world that moves in a rhythm and pace that is very enticing and attractive. “It Never Entered My Mind” is the first track on that album.

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Marcus Evans

Marcus Evans, Drums

How long have you been a part of the Jazz at Four band?
I have been involved with the jazz service at Fourth Presbyterian Church for more than ten years.

You could spend your Sunday afternoon doing anything! Why this band and this community?
Amr Fahmy (piano) and Bryan Doherty (bass) are my brothers and two of my most favorite people to make music with. I also appreciate how this church opens its doors to all people. I am inspired to hear about the great things that we all can do with our God-given resources, and I look forward to when it won't be necessary to wrestle with how the privileged should be more kind to the underprivileged.

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel?
Buchanan Chapel is a wonderfully modern and purposeful worship space. It will be ideal for our Jazz at Four service! I’m looking forward to it.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church?
I am a full-time musician, and I practice and perform various styles of music as often as possible. I am also a father, a marathoner, and a student of life and nature.

Do you have a favorite jazz song? Is there an artist that has made a large impact on your career as a musician?
I love the music of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonius Monk, Joe Henderson, Ahmad Jamal. I also love drummers like Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Max Roach, Billy Higgins, Questlove, Chris Dave, and many others. I should also mention that trumpeter Roy Hargrove—who very recently joined the ancestors—is one of my biggest influences. He was the champion of the younger generation of musicians, and he will be deeply missed.

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Amr Fahmy

Amr Fahmy, Piano

How long have you been a part of the Jazz at Four band?
I’ve been a part of Jazz at Four for more than eight years.

You could spend your Sunday afternoon doing anything! Why this band and this community?
I am proud to be a part of a church that supports people in need and has a message of equality, love, and respect for all communities. I am also privileged to share in music at Fourth Church with world-class, inspiring musicians who share a commitment to music, spiritual service, and fellowship.

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel?
Buchanan Chapel is a beautiful, modern space with great acoustics. Being in Buchanan Chapel gives us a range of possible setups for band and congregation.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church?
When I’m not at Fourth Church, I perform, teach, and record music. I love spending time with my family.

Do you have a favorite jazz song? Is there an artist that has made a large impact on your career as a musician?
One of my favorite jazz pieces is Duke Ellington’s “The Single Petal of a Rose.” The piece is part of The Queen’s Suite, written for Queen Elizabeth II. Jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis has had a major influence on my life and career as a musician.

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Shawn Fiedler
Shawn Fiedler

Ministerial Associate for Worship
sfiedler@fourthchurch.org

We see you on Sundays preaching or leading worship, but what do you do the rest of the week?
My work at Fourth Presbyterian Church is completely devoted to our common worship life. With four weekly worship services and a few dozen special services throughout the year, this is no small task. Throughout the week I work with the rest of the clergy and musicians to understand the worship themes of the week, prepare liturgies, and examine every detail related to our worship life. More importantly, I am tasked with expanding lay (non-clergy) involvement in worship. Lay-involvement in worship is a core value of our Reformed tradition. At Fourth Church, lay persons read scripture or lead parts of the liturgy, prepare and serve Communion, greet and usher our services, and take care of items and spaces related to worship. This is by far my favorite aspect of this work.

You could spend your Sundays doing anything! Why this congregation? Why this work?
In the same way that some pastors are called to children’s ministry or mission ministry, I have always felt called to worship ministry. Ever since my seminary studies, I have been devoted to learning more about Christian worship and traditions. I love working with a community so that their expression of worship feels deeply rooted, authentic, and open. A place like Fourth Church, with our worship spaces and location, has a unique call to offer beautiful, challenging worship—and do so often. I love the commitment this congregation has to beauty in worship.

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel? 
Buchanan Chapel is an incredible space. Whenever we hold worship in that space, I am amazed its beauty. I am so glad that it will be filled with more weekly worship. As a worship geek, I see Buchanan Chapel as a blank canvas, the congregation as the paint, and God as the artist. I am so excited to see how God uses Jazz at Four in Buchanan Chapel.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church? 
My partner, Joshua, and I are still fairly new to Chicago. We moved here from Boston about a year and a half ago. We enjoy exploring all that Chicago has to offer, including museums, architecture, and food. So far we love Chicago! When we aren’t out and about, I enjoy throwing on an apron, opening a cookbook, and trying a new recipe. Usually, the meal turns out. On occasion, I cry out to Saint Julia Child to intercede and help.

Is there a poet, theologian, or activist who has made a large impact on your life and ministry? 

I have surrounded myself with countless liturgical theologians (worship gurus) from Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions. But if I had to name one theologian, that’s easy: my grandmother. My grandmother taught me everything I needed to know about how to live a life of faith. She was devoted to the worship of God, service to humankind, and the expression of beauty in all things. When I’m not sure what to believe or how to move forward, I think about my grandmother and her Christian discipleship.

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Leslie Beukelman
Abbi Heimach-Snipes

Pastoral Resident
aheimach-snipes@fourthchurch.org

We see you on Sundays preaching or leading worship, but what do you do the rest of the week?
My title is not always the most clear about what my role is, but I serve as the pastor of our TwentiesThirties ministries (formerly called Young Adults). My role is similar to that of the associate pastors, where we take turns and collaborate on worship and other ministry areas. I focus my presence and pastoring to our twenties and thirties folks through leading small groups, retreats, monthly social nights, and individual pastoral meetings. I also serve on Fourth Church’s Racial Equity Council, which is working to better learn how racism shows its ugly face at Fourth Church and what we can do about changing that.

You could spend your Sundays doing anything! Why this congregation? Why this work?
When I finished seminary and learned about Fourth Church’s residency program for new pastors, I was skeptical that I could feel at home here. I had always been part of smaller churches. But learning about Fourth Church’s mission and ministries, seeing its worship opportunities, and meeting its staff, I was surprised how I felt God calling me here. I was excited about the chance to collaborate on the jazz service, work with folks in their twenties and thirties—as well as older generations—and inspired by Shannon’s leadership. That’s when I knew that God was leading me to Fourth Church, to learn from and also deepen its ministries. I’m so glad I said yes!

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel? 
I absolutely love the space in Buchanan Chapel. I find it holy, inviting, and intimate and am inspired by how its space can allow us to live into the values of the jazz service in creative ways. I’m most interested in how it can help us foster more community. While there is much value in worshiping anonymously, our faith does call us to be in community with one another. Worshiping in the round to see each other’s faces and gathering for refreshments right after the service in the Allison Library can make it more possible for us to know each other. Knowing you better will help me be a better pastor and worship leader to you all, and I hope will help deepen our discipleship together too.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church? 
I’m expecting my first child right now, and prepping for her arrival and the birth is certainly keeping my spouse, Ben, and me busy! I also serve on the Leadership Team of Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism. Organizing and leading trainings with them has been life-giving and transformative and is woven into my sense of call as a pastor as well—working towards dismantling racism in the church and our wider world. For hobbies, I enjoy my weekly yoga and Pilates classes at a locally owned studio in my neighborhood and also hiking with Ben when we can.

Is there a poet, theologian, or activist who has made a large impact on your life and ministry? 
Liberation theologies, particularly from women, LGBTQIA people, people of color, those who are poor, and people from outside the U.S. have strongly influenced my life and ministry. Their perspectives on God and scripture have led me to interrogate what seems “normal” in my readings of scripture, to look for where the power is and whose voices are missing. Just as Jesus preferred spending time with the poor and outcasts of society, learning from the margins teaches me about where God is speaking and leading us. Plus, as a young girl, I’m not sure if I would have stayed Christian if I hadn’t encountered these voices. The male dominance in the churches surrounding me growing up left me to feel as if I wasn’t included, that God was not approachable to me. Learning about other women and other people’s struggles for liberation and God’s presence in this work reconnected me with my faith and the church.

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Joe Morrow

Joe Morrow

Minister for Evangelism
jmorrow@fourthchurch.org

We see you on Sundays preaching or leading worship, but what do you do the rest of the week?
In partnership with our Discover Fourth and Champions committees, I work to welcome and cultivate the gifts of newcomers at Fourth Presbyterian Church and to strengthen ministries of hospitality. So you’ll find me teaching our Inquirers’ classes for new members and assisting in open houses. My work in evangelism at Fourth Church is, broadly speaking, a ministry that prioritizes relationship building and communicating our core beliefs about God, humanity, and community. I also engage in pastoral duties such as providing care and officiating wedding and memorial services. I’m also beginning a ministry of presence and prayer in local cafés. Denominationally, I serve as the chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board.

You could spend your Sundays doing anything! Why this congregation? Why this work?
Over the years, I have had various ministerial callings, whether in youth and campus ministry or the corporate and nonprofit “citizen” sector. In each of them I sought to better the world in some small way so that people and communities might reflect the beauty of God’s Beloved Community. But in recent years, I have had a greater desire to root myself in a local congregation, because they are core units of social transformation. In a time of alienation and division, communities like Fourth Church have a unique opportunity to be redemptive and unifying places embodying neighborliness and witnessing to the love of Christ. Born and raised on Chicago’s Southwest Side, I have known of Fourth Church since I was a child. So in a sense, working here is a ministerial homecoming. Now I get to root myself in a faith community that shares in the stories, heartbreak, and hope of Chicago.

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel?
Buchanan Chapel is such an accessible space that gives both a feeling of tradition and modernity (just like jazz!). I am most excited about the community-building opportunities in this new space. I had a science teacher who once encouraged his students to sit knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye so they could better learn from one another. Seating in the round in the chapel is one way we can see eye-to-eye and enable participants in our 4:00 p.m. service to become better acquainted. The tables in Allison Library are also the ideal spot for gatherers to sit down with a warm cup of coffee, share thoughts about the service, and chat about the ways we see God at work in our week. Most of all, with a movable floor plan and the focus on the Communion table, there is boundless room for creativity. Stay tuned: you never know what will happen at 4:00 p.m.!

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church?
Keeping up with my ever-energetic and outgoing four-year-old daughter, Ella! When she’s not keeping me busy, I spend downtime eating my way around great Chicago restaurants, catching up with TV shows (right now it’s Season 1 of The Romanoffs on Netflix), and tending our community garden. Hoping not to forsake my scholarly side, I’m currently wrapping up an article exploring the faith lives of entrepreneurs of color.

Is there a poet, theologian, or activist who has made a large impact on your life and ministry?
So many! But one I have recently come to appreciate even more is Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities worldwide, which bring together people of all backgrounds to live with those who are mentally disabled. Vanier has produced illuminating theological reflection while essentially being a community organizer. His public witness is not only in words but also in deeds and relationships. He says all the time that his communities are not so much a solution as a sign of God’s grace and New Creation. I am deeply moved by him and other movement-building figures, such as Toyohiko Kagawa, Dorothy Day, and Charles Sherrod. For them, faith is in search not only of understanding but ultimately of embodiment. After all, the Word became flesh and lived among us.

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Nanette Sawyer

Nanette Sawyer

Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry
nsawyer@fourthchurch.org

We see you on Sundays preaching or leading worship, but what do you do the rest of the week?
My work at Fourth Presbyterian Church is all about community building. I try to help our large church have smaller, more intimate opportunities for congregants to connect with each other in deep ways. I create and support small groups, work for racial equity at our church, and develop interfaith relationships with our neighbors of other faiths.

Small groups include everything from book groups to Bible studies, from men’s breakfast programs to monthly Women at Fourth fellowship gatherings. We have groups for couples and groups for people over fifty. We’re also starting a new thing called Deep Listening Dinners to help people get to know each other more deeply and to practice our listening skills. We even have a group for people who want to play bridge!

You could spend your Sundays doing anything! Why this congregation? Why this work?
One of my passions is helping people to feel and believe how very precious to God and beloved they are. It is one of our callings, as followers of God in the way of Jesus, to share this message and this experience with as many people as possible. I see this happening all around me at Fourth Church. This good news message is shared in the preaching here, in all our mission work, in the way we work with our children and youth, and in our service to the community. I love the urban vibrancy of Fourth Church and feel honored to work with such fantastic colleagues.

In December, we are moving to Buchanan Chapel. What excited you about moving to Buchanan Chapel?
When we worshiped together in Buchanan Chapel in September, I loved how physically close we were to each other. I could see everyone’s faces and hear everyone singing. In addition to the coziness that I think we’ll experience in the chapel, there are so many opportunities for creativity and for making the space beautiful and meaningful. I’m excited to make some new banners that bring in a sense of sacred space and try some new ways of sharing our prayers with each other. One idea is to make strings of prayer flags, with our prayers written on small colored flags of fabric. I think it could be very beautiful, impactful, and moving.

What keeps you busy when you aren’t at Fourth Church?
I love to walk along the lakefront; I find it so peaceful and healing. It soothes my soul. Cozy mystery novels (that’s an actual genre of fiction!) help me to take a little mental vacation. I also love to cook, so I’m often perusing cookbooks and listening to audio books while chopping vegetables. But when I feel too lazy to chop vegetables, I like to go out for dinner or brunch with my wife and enjoy the salmon sushi or the gluten-free pancakes (with real maple syrup!).

Is there a poet, theologian, or activist who has made a large impact on your life and ministry?
Mary Oliver, without a doubt, is the poet who speaks to my soul through pretty much every poem she has ever written. She has one poem called “Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?” In it she writes

There are things you can’t reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.
The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

All of her poetry, in my experience, reaches out to the idea of God. Her words brush against the edges of God, make us think about God’s mysterious beauty and presence, everywhere around us, whether we remember or forget. God is there, hiding in the beautiful details of creation. I’m so grateful that her poetry can awaken this remembrance in me.

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For more information about Jazz at Four, contact Shawn Fiedler (312.573.3367), Ministerial Associate for Worship.