"Our organist is 85. If she ever retires, or dies, we won't have music in our Church meetings!"
This is not limited to one specific religious affiliation, or specific congregation, either. The problem of not having up-and-coming Church Musicians is becoming more and more prevalent.
Something I have noticed coming on for many years is that young people are not learning to play instruments like they used to, especially piano. Playing any musical instrument takes dedication and years of practice. It helps if the player also has opportunities to perform in a safe space where they can work through stage fright and nervousness to gain confidence and experience. Playing music in a school band or orchestra or singing in chorus can be just those stepping stones for a young musician.
But creating a confident piano or organ ACCOMPANIST for Church Services requires much more effort and encouragement. Learning HOW TO ACCOMPANY is a tremendously difficult skill. One that people in general have no appreciation for. I hear comments like "Playing a hymn can't be that hard. If you can play the piano, you should be able to play a hymn for Church."
First off, playing hymns takes advanced skill. Playing hymns while being able to ACCOMPANY a congregation and possibly an inexperienced conductor takes an even more advanced skill level.
The first rule of accompanying is to make everyone else look good. That means following the conductor's tempo, if they skip a beat or verse, or they need an extra interlude or something else unforeseen. An accompanist must be very flexible. That takes talent, skill and EXPERIENCE!
Most good Church Musicians will tell you that they started playing for Church Meetings when they were very young. They might also tell about their MENTOR TEACHERS that guided them all along their growth path. That sounds like just what's missing today. We need to cultivate new Church Musicians by recognizing talented youth and grooming them to be able to function. There is but a small window of opportunity while they are young and still taking piano lessons. We'd better take advantage of those opportunities while we can!